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As the site of execution of the last Russian Tsar and his family and the hometown of Boris Yeltsin, Ekaterinburg claims to be the city which heralds the start of new eras in Russia's history. The memorial to the execution of Nicholas and his family is a  simple cross with photos of the family members. Just west of the city, obelisks by the railway mark the official beginning of Siberia.

History: Czars family memorial
Winter: Classic Russian activities
Wilderness: Stunning area for hiking

On the 18th of November 1723, the banks of the Iset River in the Urals were ringing with the sound of two forging hammers belonging to a local factory which had just been put into operation. That was the day when Ekaterinbug came into existence. A contemporary of St.Petersburg, the city emerged by order of Peter the Great to become the capital of  this mining region. The city is still a leading industrial city in the Urals. Its factories, such as the Uralmash, Uralelectrotyazhmash and Turbomotorny are exporters to many countries.

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 brutal murder of the 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 prisoner 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 hundreds of factories which had been relocated from all over Russia, that the Russian military weaponry was kept alive. Ekaterinburg was where (after WW2) that the greatest Russian military leader of World War II, Marshal Georgy Zhoukov, spent the years of his “exile”. this was imposed by Stalin who saw him as a threat. On the 1st of May 1960 the city attracted the attention of the world when Garry Powers, the pilot of an American U-2 spy plane was shot down a few kilometers from the city. And then at the dawn of the new Russia (1990's)Ekaterinburg’s most famous politician, Boris Yeltsin, became the first president of the new Russia. He played a key role in dismantling the Party structure and opening up the Soviet myth. Until 1991, due to military secrecy, the city had been closed to foreign visitors.

Another traditional industry is the cutting of precious stones, or ‘Ural Samotsvety’, which came to be used as an appellative. In the vicinity of  Ekaterinburg emerald, aquamarine, tourmaline, amethyst, malachite, rhodonite and jasper are mined in large quantities. Stone cutting has long been a function of  home industry and in 1738 a state-owned factory, or what became known as the ‘mill’ was built on the bank of  Iset Lake. Like the Peterhoff mill it was responsible for the manufacture of  large cups, vases, obelisks, chandeliers, tables and icon-cases. All these things were intended to be sent to imperial palaces, churches, foreign courts and ambassadors. Each item was unique, custom designed and approved by the Tsar. Even now visitors to the Hermitage can admire the magnificent works of art created by the Craftsmen of this area. Ekaterinburg was involved in the turbulent events at the beginning of this century, which resulted in the assassination of the last Tsar and his family.

Ekaterinburg is becoming more popular for tourism. The city is a large scientific and cultural center. It has three theatres and an assortment of architectural monuments. Those travelling to Ekaterinburg should consider visiting the Geological Museum, The Museum of  Fine Arts or the ‘Russian Samotsvety’ factory. The military museum is of interest as it contains the remains of Gary Powers U2 spy plane, that famous ‘incident’ from the cold war past - he was shot down in this area. For those interested in jewelry, fine art and history, a trip to  Ekaterinburg should be considered.
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Sightseeing and Accommodation Options
A waiting hall at Station with famous murals
The Gary Powers incident as mural
The Romanoff family and civil war mural

Grand Railway Station