Welcome to Ekaterinburg, the capital of the Ural Mountains and the gateway to Siberia!
The city was founded as a factory-fort in 1723 by the will of Peter the Great and was named after two Yekaterinas – Peter’s wife (later Empress Catherine I), and the Russian patron saint of mining. In very short time after that, the city got status of the administrative center of all Urals and Siberian metal and mining works.
The 19th century was a time of prosperity, gold had been discovered and, with investment from local merchants, led to mining in both the Ekaterinburg region and into Siberia. The discoverers, mostly the so-called old-believers tried to keep away from the official capitals of Central Russia, so the shower of gold poured upon and into the capital of the Urals. In fact it was the first ‘Gold Rush’ in world history.
The city of Ekaterinburg, which in Soviet times was known as Sverdlovsk, played a key role in the history of Russia in the twentieth century. The Revolution and Civil War started here with the bloody murder of last Russian Tsar Nickolay Romanov and his family in 1918. Stalin’s struggle against the “class enemies” in the 1930’s turned the city into the largest transshipment point for prisoners of the GULAG (system of exploitation of the workforce) who were sent to work on the development of the vast lands of Siberia. In the tragic years of World War II, it was here, in the hundreds of factories which had been relocated from all over Russia, that the famous Russian military weaponry was being produced. It is also in Ekaterinburg between the 1940’s and 50’s, that the greatest Russian military leader of World War II, Marshal Georgy Zhoukov, spent the years of his “exile”.
A new obelisk on “Europe-Asia” borderline (17 km. drive from the city) was built in 2004 as a first stage of a great project “Ekaterinburg is Euro-Asian Russian Capital”.
SIGHTSEEING TOURS AND ADVENTURE TRIPS AROUND EKATERINBURG AND IN THE URALS
- Quest City-tour: “Back in the USSR” – Imagine you are a western spy in a big Soviet city! Meet your local agent, get the secret city map, spy photo camera, special questionnaire and follow to your mission!
- “Monastery on the Romanov’s secret grave site” – Excursion out of the city (15 km.) to The Monastery dedicated to the Romanov’s Tsar family, on the place where bolsheviks tried to hide Romanov’s corpses in a secret grave.Now it is well-known Russian Orthodox pilgrimage site. (Holy grave place & seven nice churches made of wood according to Russian Orthodox tradition).
- “One foot in Europe, another one -in Asia” – On the way to the border-line you will see “The Memorial of Victims of GULAG” and make a short stop there. Few minutes drive and you reach The Main Obelisk “Between Europe & Asia”. You cross the borderline… and get a Special Certificate with glass of sparkling wine!!! (The drive is approx. 20 km one way)
- “Siberian countryside Experience” – Full day trip (145 km drive one way) to picturesque, 300 years old village Koptelovo. Visit to traditional Siberian “izba”-house. Folklore concert performance in local museum of farming & crafts. Excursion in the museum. (In winter season – horse riding on sled, in summer season – horse riding on carriage)
- “Gold-Rush in Ekaterinburg!” – Interactive excursion to “golden valley” near small town Beryozovsky, where the first Russian gold was discovered: Visit to gold mine museum (on base of real training mine!), then … your own gold washing experience on banks of a forest stream! (we can’t promise you find gold, but there is a real chance to wash some crystals and gems of The Urals). The main idea is historical reconstruction of one the most important industrial crafts of The Urals – gold washing!