This city has something of an identity problem as sometimes its name is spelt as Ekaterinburg, and at other times it is called Yekaterinburg, depending on which alphabet you choose to use.
Whichever spelling you choose to use, the city is the biggest in Russia and it is the last resting place of the Romanovs, the Russian royal family who were assassinated by the Bolsheviks in 1918. There is now a church built at the spot where the family were thought to have been murdered. Called The Cathedral of the Blood, it replaces the original building which was demolished some years ago following the breakup of the Soviet Union. In 2007 the bodies of the family, together with several servants, were found in another location together with evidence that the murders did take place at the new site, but the memory of that event still remains and is represented by the church that was built to commemorate them.
Ekaterinburg is Russia’s fourth largest city. It is situated on the Iset River which flows on the east side of the Ural Mountains. It is named after the martyred St Catherine, and was established in 1723 as an industrial centre servicing the iron industry. During much of the Soviet years the city’s name was changed to Sverdlovsk.
Geographically, the city sits on the spot where Europe and Asia meet. This attractive, cultured city is 1,667 kilometres east of Moscow, which is two time zones ahead of the capital.
The city is an easy place to negotiate as it has a good transport system consisting of buses, trams, trolley buses and a metro rail system. There are many beautiful buildings within the city that have been built in a classical architectural style, a good example of which is the palace on Voznesenskaya Hill, which is surrounded by an extensive and attractive park.
Ekaterinburg and its surroundings are rich with archaeological and geological monuments and places. One popular attraction is at nearby Lake Shartash which is well known for a group of boulders that are called the Shartash stone tents. At the first sight, these impressive grey rocks look like the remains of an old castle, but in fact they are completely natural, with some rocks reaching a height of 12 metres (40 feet).
Both within the city boundaries and just outside its perimeter are gorgeous buildings, lovely parks, impressive mountains and popular lakes and rivers which attract people from near and far to either absorb the culture or to enjoy the many resorts which dot the region.
Ekaterinburg is one of those places in Russia which surprises the casual visitor with its natural charm.