Where to go from Moscow for a long weekend?
Yekaterinburg is the third biggest city in Russia, it is a capital of the Ural region, a place closely associated with the former president Boris Yeltsin and the last days of the emperor Nicholas II. Also we noticed that people here have their own identity: they are proactive, free-minded and creative. Yekaterinburg museums have vast collections of semi-precious stones - the Urals mountains are rich of them.
How far is Yekaterinburg?
The city is on the Asian side of the Ural mountains, 1500 km East of Moscow. You can get there by plane in 2.5 hours, while the train journey (if you feel like experiencing railroad romance) takes about 26-28 hours.
What to see in Yekaterinburg in two days? Day 1 1. A panoramic tour of the city. Yekaterinburg is rich with constructivism-style buildings and is proud of its skyscrapers. One of them is called Vysotsky, after a popular singer of the 1970ss. The heart of the city is the Dam where the metal plant used to be – the plant the city has started its being in the 1700ss. 2. The city is also notorious for being a place of the final days of Nicholas II, the last Tzar. The house where the family had been kept and shot in July 1918 is now replaced with a gran church. And Nicholas II and his family are now saints – their canonization took place in 2000. Could they, Christians, ever think this would happen to them?.. 3. Boris Yeltsin Center. The first president of Russia (1991-1999) Boris Yeltsin was born in the Urals and worked as a head of Yekaterinburg region before being promoted to Moscow in the late 1980ss. The Center of Boris Yeltsin is a great place to learn more about Perestroika, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the rough 1990ss. You can order an individual tour in English. 4. Minerals and stone carving art museums. You can choose between Glavny Prospect and Planeta Museum, or visit both. They show beautiful semi-precious stones from all around the world, with a special secrtion dedicated to the Urals minerals – including its famous bright green stone malachite.
Day Two Going out of town 1. To continue the last Romanovs story, visit Ganina Yama (Ganina Pit) – the monastery built around the place where in 1918 Romanovs bodies were brought to after the execution. In spite of its dark history, the place is filled with peaceful and heart-warming atmosphere. You can walk between its seven wooden churches, surrounded by pine forest.
On the way to Ganina Yama you will cross the official border between Europe and Asia! You can get a written certificate of your visit. 2. If you are interested in technical history, the museum in Verkhnya Pyshma should be included to your schedule – an array of tanks, planes, armored trains, submarines on the open-air grounds around the museum. Inside the building there is an unprecedented collection of antique automobiles, including every model of Lada. The museum is supported by a local copper company, is very modern and well-organized.
Or you can see the most unusual point of interest in Yekaterinburg, which is... 3. ...its cemetery, called Shirokorechenskoye. In the 1990ss Yekaterinburg became one of the capitals of organized crime. Mafia leaders lived colorful, but short lives, most of them did not survive the decade. Gangsters gravestones are local sights – the men are depicted with their Mercedeses or Volvos, jewels and expensive wines, or with something more “spiritual” like a church or a birch tree. Their lifeguards are often buried next to them.
Festivals: Ural Music Night If you will choose to go to Yekaterinburg on the 25 of June, you have a chance to witness its open-air free entrance music festival with 80 bands and performers playing in parks, squares, and streets all night long.
If you got interested, here is the contacts of an experienced guide in Yekaterinburg who has helped me to write up this sample itinerary: