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  • Founded in 1723
  • The third largest city in Russia
  • More than 1 mln. inhabitants
  • Administrative center of Sverdlovsk oblast
  • The capitalof the Ural Federal District
  • One of the greatest industrial and scientific centre of Russia
  • Important transportation centre, the centre of international trade
  • Lies at the crossroads of 2 continents – Europe and Asia
  • Time shift: GMT +5 hours

Ekaterinburg today
The history of Ekaterinburg


Today Ekaterinburg is a city with the population of a million and a half and a powerful industrial and research centre. Its heavy transport and chemical engineering plants, non-ferrous metallurgical works and military industrial enterprises occupy a leading place in the national economy. The city has about 15 institutions of higher education; it is the seat of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Ekaterinburg is a major business centre in Russia. Its financial and banking institutions take an active part in Russian economy, making a substantial contribution to the development of cooperation with foreign countries. More and more foreign companies are successfully operating representative offices and joint ventures here. Ekaterinburg's unique geographical position on the border of Europe and Asia offers broad opportunities for assuming the role of an important centre of cooperation between East and West.

Ekaterinburg is a large junction of seven railway routes. The daily life of the city is provided for by its social infrastructure. Its numerous shops, public catering facilities, trams, trolley-buses, buses, and "Metro" render services to its residents and visitors. The city has dozens of public libraries, cinemas, concert halls, children's music and art schools. Its Opera House, Drama Theatre, Musical Comedy Theatre, Theatre of Youth, Puppet Shows Theatre, Philharmonic Society, and Circus are well known in the country. The museums of Ekaterinburg are famous for their unique collections.

The city has a unique appearance. It seems that history itself is embodied in its streets and avenues, architectural ensembles and sights.

More than 600 monuments of history and culture are located in the city, and 43 of them are considered to be top national monuments because of their special significance.

The heart of Ekaterinburg is its dam (Plotinka), that permitted the initial development of the city's industrial base. The dam was erected in 1723 and survived later two reconstructions. At present it is an impressive industrial monument of the 18th century. Unfortunately, very few buildings of the old factory area have been preserved. Now only afew buildings remained: the Museum of History of Architecture of the Urals, and the Nature Museum, both are located in the so-called Historical Public Garden. Situated here is also the oldest building of Ekaterinburg which dated from 1764 and that was recently reconstructed. At present this is the Fine Arts Museum. Ekaterinburg of the 18th century was a town made of wood. However, the first stone buildings also appeared here during this period. At most these were administrative buildings, for example the Main Board of the mining factories, where the Urals Conservatoire is located now. In the late 18th and the early 19th centuries a new architectural style (classicism) influenced Ekaterinburg landscapes. The palace on Voznesenskaya Hill, with its luxurious park, is the most famous example of this style. Many churches and chapels made the city's panorama very beautiful and picturesque. In the beginning of the 20th century there were about 50 churches, and of this number only 6 still remain today. There are quite a few buildings in the constructivist style in the city. Typical of this style are such examples as the Main Post Office, the "Uralski Rabochi" printing house, the film studio, the famous White Tower, the "Dynamo" stadium, etc.

The Soviet Period brought new trends to Ekaterinburg's architecture: luxury and rationalism, which reflected the influence of both ideology and asceticism. New tendencies in the development of world architecture have also affected the city. Some of the most well known of these structures include the Military Headquarters, the Urals State Technical University (UPI), the Railway Administrative Building, and the Philharmonic Society.

The dynamics of contemporary life does have its effect on the city. However, good care of its cultural heritage helps to maintain the historical continuity of times and confirms the right of Ekaterinburg to the status of a historical city.

Ekaterinburg History

Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg) was founded in 1723 by Tzar Peter the Great (and named after his wife, Catherine). The city witnessed the death of monarchy in Russia, as it was there that the last Russian czar Nicolas II with his family was assassinated, in Ipatiev house by the Bolsheviks on July 16, 1918.

Another dramatic episode in the area took place on May 1, 1960 when American U2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers was hit by a missile launched from the local military base. The city was closed to the outside world until 1990 because of its strategic defense industries.

The city is associated with another famous political figure, Boris Yeltsin, who was born in the village of Butka not far from Ekaterinburg. Under Yeltsin's orders, the house where the Tzar and his family were killed was destroyed; a wooden cross and a chapel were been installed later. This place has been recognized by the Russian Orthodoxal church as a sacred and now Cathedral-on-the-Blood is constructed exactly on Ipatiev house once stood.

Ekaterinburg has played a notable role in the history of Russia. It was here that Russian industry was born. The products of Ural and Siberian iron mills were exhibited at local trade fairs. Iron and cast-iron from the Urals as well as masterpieces of Kasly casting (named after the town of Kasly) were delivered by merchants to various parts of the world. The town owes its origin to a metallurgical and metal-working plant which rose on the banks of the river Iset, and by the standards of those days was one of the best, not only in Russia but also in Europe.

Later, a mint and a lapidary factory were added to form one big enterprise. Peter the Great's comrades General Gennin and Captain Tatishchev, one a prominent statesman and the other a noted scientist, headed the construction project. Since the beginning of the 19th century Ekaterinburg came to play an increasingly important role as an administrative, mining and Ural-wide machine building center.

The first part of 19th century was also marked by the flourishing of the art of stone-cutting, for which the Ekaterinburg lapidary factory was largely responsible.

In 1924, Ekaterinburg was renamed Sverdlovsk, after the revolutionary leader Jakob M. Sverdlov. During the Soviet period Sverdlovsk grew up rapidly and became one of biggest industrial, cultural and scientific centers of Russia.

The present day Ekaterinburg is rich in sights - architectural monuments of Russian classicism of the 18-19th centuries including the estate of Rastorguev-Kharitonov; the house of the mining chief: the Mining Board; the Church of Alexander Nevsky, the Church of the of the Ascension and others; the Geological Museum which features a unique collection of minerals; the Fine Arts Museum which, along with a fine collection of paintings by Russian and foreign artists, displays Kasly castings; as also several museums dedicated to writers such as Mamin-Sihiriak and Bazhov. There is also an Opera House, a Musical Comedy theater, Childrens and Puppet theater, as well as a Philarmonic auditorium.

Currently the population of Ekaterinburg stands at 1.5 million. There are more than 100 research institutes headed by the Urals Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 15 higher educational establishments, 35 technical schools (colleges), 27 vocational schools, 5 theatres, a philharmonic concert hall, about 600 libraries, and 15 stadiums.

Ekaterinburg is a draw for geologists (fascinated by the mineral-rich Urals) and tourists who come for mystery and history of the Communist-era, and then discover a city surprisingly rich in pre-Soviet churches and other architecture of an earlier era. The Europe-Asia Obelisk which is a about 25 miles west of the city, marking the border between the two continents, is an especially interesting place to visit.