A guide to the Ural region: Ekaterinburg and beyond
From remote polar peaks to ornate cathedrals, the Urals have everything required for a magical holiday in the great outdoors. Experts from Ask Ural and Welcome Ural are on hand to guide you through this mystic mountainous region.
Often described as relatively small, the Urals only look petite when compared to the world’s mightiest mountain ranges. Meandering down from the Arctic Ocean to Kazakhstan, they’re seen as a natural border between the European and Asian sides of Russia.
Access to these majestic mountains comes via Ekaterinburg, which just so happens to be the hometown of Ask Ural‘s founder, Luba Suslyakova. “Ekaterinburg is a very modern vibrant city, and even though it’s located in Asia, tourists say that it looks very European,” she explains. “People are curious to see the real Russia, so to say, far away from the two capitals Moscow and St. Petersburg. Ekaterinburg is attractive in this respect… it’s authentic and yet has all the necessary modern infrastructure for tourists. Other reasons [people visit] are to stand with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, to learn about the Tsar’s family, and to see the wild nature of the Urals.”
Julia Kharakhasheva of Welcome Ural echoes these sentiments, adding “Ekaterinburg has a unique mixture of different architectural, historical and cultural rarities which may never be repeated. More than 60 monuments of history and culture are located in the city, and 43 of them are considered to be national monuments. That is why Ekaterinburg can claim the formal status as ‘Russia’s most historical city.'”
Food to go
Before you set off to explore the wilds, you’ll need plenty of energy. Luba has several suggestions for dining in Ekaterinburg: “I would recommend visiting Café-Museum Demidov. It has Russian cuisine and an interesting interior, with iron cast sculptures and even furniture produced at the Ural Kasli Factory. Kasli iron cast mouldings became world famous at the Paris Expo in 1900. Fabrika-Kukhnya offers traditional Ural dumplings and other Russian and Soviet dishes, and Georgian restaurant Khmeli-Suneli is one of the most popular places in the city now.”
Past and present
“There are more 30 museums in Ekaterinburg, which exhibit unique works of art, historical and cultural sites,” says Julia, “and each of them are interesting in their own way.” She recommends the Ural Geological Museum and Museum of the History of Jewellers and Lapidary Arts. Luba suggests, “to see the authentic Ekaterinburg you can walk through the literary quarter… it has buildings of the 19th century converted into museums for local writers.” The city’s crowning glory, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, is located just a 30-minute stroll from our Park Inn by Radisson Ekaterinburg.
Exploring the Urals
“There is a legend about a giant who wore a beautiful belt of gem stones,” says Julie. “One day, his belt fell down to land and broke into many pieces, and at this place between Europe and Asia, wonderful mountains with lots of gems inside them appeared.”
Both our experts recommend visiting Deer Streams, where Luba says you will see “Ural nature in one place: taiga and mixed forests, rocks, caves and rivers.” Julie completes her list of must-see sites with Nevyansk Leaning Tower, Aramashevo Village, Ganina Yama (the last dwelling of the Romanov Tsars) and the Nizhniy Tagil mines and museum.