City Guide: Ekaterinburg, Russia

Fast Facts

Ekaterinburg, sometimes called Yekaterinburg or Jekaterinburg, lies with the Ural Federal District of Russia, in the Sverdlovsk Oblast or province. It is a major city, and has been for some time, with a population of approximately 1,293,537 recorded in the 2002 Census. The administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Ekaterinburg sits on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range at 56°51´N 60°36´E.

An Eye for History

Between 1924 and 1991, the Ekaterinburg was known as Sverdlovsk, named for the Bolshevik leader Yakov Sverdlov. Nonetheless, the city began life in 1723, during the reign of Peter the Great. Ekaterinburg was founded by Vasily Tatischev and named after Saint Catherine and Peter's wife, the Empress Catherine I; in Russian, Ekaterina.

The city developed as an industrial center and transportation hub due to it's location in central Russia, but its greatest claim to fame came in 1918, shortly after the Russian Revolution. The former Tsar, Nicholas Romanov, and his wife, Alexandra, along with their five children, were executed by rebel Bolsheviks at the Ipatiev House of Ekaterinburg. Athough the house has since been destroyed, there is now a monument and a church built in honor of the Tsar and his family.

During the 1920s, industry boomed and the city became home to the largest heavy machinery factory in Europe, the Uralmash. On through World War II and the Cold War period, Ekaterinburg remained an important center for industry. On May 1st, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Sverdlovsk Oblast and the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was captured and tried.

Today, still the administrative center for Sverdlovsk Oblast, Ekaterinburg is home to many organizations that support the arts.

Out and About

Ekaterinburg contains many interesting destinations for tourists and there is no shortage of things to do after daylight hours, given the vast number of theaters, ballets, and music performance centers in the city. Yet, the best way to plan an exploration of the city is with the help of a dedicated guide book.

Two "must see" locations feature below:

  1. Cathedral on the Blood

    The church built on the site of the Ipatiev House to mark the assassination of Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, their daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and their son, Alexei. On the place of Ipatiev house the "Cathedral-on-the-Blood" has been built. It is now the largest Cathedral in Ekaterinburg.

  2. Museum of History, Architecture, and Technology of the Urals

    Opened for the first time in March, 1975, the Museum of History, Architecture, and Technology of the Urals is an essential part of the Ural State Academy of Architecture and Art. The museum was built on the site of an old ironworks, which was considered a monument to the industrial architecture of Ekaterinburg; the museum's current collection includes many rare books and artifacts that represent the history of regional (Ural) architecture and design.

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