The longest leg of our Trans-Siberian Railway journey brought us to Russia’s fourth largest city, uniquely situated right on the border between Europe and Asia. Yekaterinburg (alternatively Ekaterinburg) is the administrative, scientific and cultural centre of the Urals. The city was founded in 1723 and named after Tsar Peter the Great’s wife, Catherine I (Yekaterina). It is also proudly the home of Russia’s first President, Boris Yeltsin.
Thanks to a gold rush in the 19th century, great wealth was brought to the city and it became a centre of stone carving in Russia. The architecture of the city’s many old buildings is a testament to this era.
From 1924 to 1991, the city was renamed Sverdlov, after one of the Bolshevik leaders of the revolution movement of 1905. Now Yekaterinburg is a leader in industrial innovation and the arts. Yekaterinburg was also infamously the exiled home of the last Russian Tsar, Emperor Nicholas II, who was murdered along with his family (wife – Empress Alexandra, daughters – Tatiana, Maria, Olga, Anastasia, and son – Alexey) by the Bolsheviks in the early hours of July 17, 1918 following the October Revolution. The overly grand five-domed Church-on-the-Blood now stands in the former location of Ipatiev’s House, where the Tsar and family were imprisoned and executed.
Across the road and up the hill, Voznesenskaya (Ascension) Church was originally built from 1792 to 1818. The foundations remain (current church is a reconstruction), making this church the oldest one in Yekaterinburg today.
Recently, the city has been known for its embrace of street art, which is a delight to discover around every corner. Many art theatres are dotted around the city, ensuring Russian culture stays alive for many generations to come.
The Yekaterinburg City Administration building fronts the main tram-lined Lenin avenue, which leads to the Plotinka Dam on the Iset River. As the heart of the city, the public garden with open space, fountains and street art is popular with young and old. Nearby is Saint Catherine’s Chapel, built on the location of the first church in Yekaterinburg.
The shopping district of Vaynera St (also known as the Pedestrian area) has been the shopping centre since the early 20th century. Bronze sculptures remind shoppers of a time gone by.
Visited 28th to 30th August 2014.