Ekaterinburg is now the third-largest city in Russia, and a major industrial and economic base for the country. The city is the first on the Trans-Sib line to be sited in Asia – you pass the Europe/Asia marker on the way from Perm’. However, the Europe/Asia delineation doesn’t quite correspond with the official border of Siberia – which lies a few kilometers further east of the Ekaterinburg (which prides itself on being “the last city before Siberia”). Ekaterinburg’s history is largely rooted in military endeavour, and the Urals Regiments have always played a crucial role in Russia’s defence. In fact when faced with a coup in which the premiere had been kidnapped, it was the “Man From The Urals”, the former Ekaterinburg Mayor, who stepped into the breach and prevented a civil war… Boris Yeltsin, the city’s most famous son.
Don’t miss in and around Ekaterinburg’…
The Military Museum shows…
something of Ekaterinburg’s importance to the country – including a fragment of the U-2 American spy plane famously shot-down over the city, from which the pilot, Gary Powers, escaped by parachute and was captured by the soviet army.
The Station has some outstanding soviet-era murals, showing famous events in the city’s history (including the Gold Rush that made the city rich). One of them shows Gary Powers parachuting from his burning plane… the artist has done a marvelous job of making him look like a falling angel in a renaissance painting.
… on the Spilt Blood stands on the site of the house in which the Royal Family were imprisoned in Ekaterinburg in 1918, and in whose basement they were executed by firing-squad. The crypt of the cathedral has a chamber whose position corresponds exactly to the location of the basement of the house. The Cathedral is dedicated to all victims of soviet oppression, and not only the Royal Family. (The Royal Family were reburied in St Petersburg along with their ancestors, after much discussion about this matter – their tombs no longer lie in Ekaterinburg).
The Siberian museum-reserve village of Koptelovo
This is a short drive from Ekaterinburg, and illustrates the lifestyle of a bygone age in the area – with houses from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Ural Mountains
The rich topography of the Ural Mountains offers an environment full of opportunities for light walking, more extended hiking, simple rafting, or – in winter, of course – husky-dog sledding.