Yekaterinburg (also romanized Ekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk) is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District. Its population of 1,293,537, makes it Russia’s fifth largest city. Between 1924 and 1991, the city was known as Sverdlovsk after the Bolshevik leader Yakov Sverdlov.
Yekaterinburg is the 4th largest city in Russia after Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk and is the capital of the Urals region. It was founded in 1723 by Peter the Great as the metallurgical factory and by the 20th century it had become one of Russia’s largest and most important financial, industrial and cultural centers. Between 1924 and 1991, the town was known as Sverdlovsk. The city is often said to be situated on the border of Europe and Asia (on the Asian side) and (at least) three symbolic monuments of this can be found near the city.
Yekaterinburg is situated in Asia, 1,667 km (1,036 miles) east of Moscow, on the eastern side of the Ural mountains on the Iset river. It is surrounded by forests, mainly taiga, and small lakes. The winter lasts for about 5 months – from November until the middle of April and the temperature may fall to minus 45 degrees Celsius ( minus 49 Fahrenheit), rarely lower minus 20 – minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 4 to minus 13 Fahrenheit).
The summer on the Urals is short and lasts an average of 65-70 days with an average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit). Summer snow is not an unusual occurrence, giving birth to the local reference to a “short, little-snowy summer in the Urals” Due to the city’s location “behind” the mountain range and different winds the weather is very unstable from day to day and from year to year.
Yekaterinburg has an international airport called Koltsovo and a number of direct international flights from Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, London, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Tashkent, Helsinki and several seasonal international charter flights, mostly to Turkey and Spain. There are daily flights to Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport by Ural Airlines and TransAero as well as to Sheremetyevo airport, Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok and other cities of Russia by Aeroflot.
Yekaterinburg is also a major stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway. There are daily trains to Moscow and many other cities and towns in Russia from the central Railway station. The ticket office can be found on the ground floor of the new railway station building. There is an extensive network of local trains serving the surrounding region.
The main branches of the regional industry are: machinery, metal processing, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (UB RAS) and numerous scientific research institutes and establishments are situated in Yekaterinburg. With its 16 state-owned universities and educational academies, as well as a number of private higher education institutions (2005), Yekaterinburg is considered the leading educational and scientific center of the Urals.
Ural A.M. Gorky State University, Ural State Technical University, Ural State Pedagogical University,Ural State University of Forestry, Ural State University of Mines, Ural State University of the Railways, Russian State Vocational Pedagogics University, Ural State University of Economics, Military Institute of Artillery, Ural State Conservatory, Ural State Agricultural Academy, Ural State Academy of Law, Ural State Academy of Medicine, Ural State Academy of Performing Arts, Ural Academy of Public Service, and Ural Academy of Architecture are among them.
The central part of Yekaterinburg has problems coping with traffic. Getting around the center of Yekaterinburg by car is a real pain. The public transport system, however, is efficient. There is a wide tram network that is inexpensive and reliable. Trams can be quite crowded and the ticket is purchased onboard. Buses and trolleybuses (electric buses) experience the disadvantage of heavy traffic during peak hours.
Yekaterinburg is a very compact city for its population (1.3 million). One can drive from one side of the city to the other in some 30 to 40 minutes, provided there is no traffic. Yekaterinburg has a metro (underground train) line, just one yet, connecting the central part (stop is near the Circus) to Uralmash – large industrial and residential area, having stops near main railway station and further down to Uralmash. The metro (natives say it is the shortest metro in the world) has proved to be popular with locals because it is quick and inexpensive. The stations are impressive, decorated with native Ural stones, granite and marble.
Yekaterinburg, still called by its Soviet name Sverdlovsk in rail timetables, is an important railway junction on the Trans-Siberian Railway, with lines radiating to all parts of the Urals and the rest of Russia. As the economy grew stronger after the slump of the 1990s, several European airlines started or resumed flying to the city’s Koltsovo International Airport (SVX). These include Lufthansa, British Midland, Malév, Austrian Airlines, Czech Airlines and Finnair(begins in September 2008)
Yekaterinburg is also served by the smaller Yekaterinburg Aramil Airport. Yekaterinburg’s public transit network includes the Yekaterinburg Metro which was opened in 1991, and many streetcar (tram), bus, and trolleybus routes
The city has several dozens of libraries including the V. G. Belinsky Scientific Library, the largest public library in Sverdlovsk Oblast. Yekaterinburg is famous for its theaters among which there are some very popular theater companies: Yekaterinburg Academic Ballet and Opera Company, Sverdlovsk Academic Theater of Musical Comedy (legendary company known in Russia and in ex-soviet republics as Sverdlovskaya muzkomedia), Yekaterinburg Academic Dramatic Theater, Yekaterinburg Theater for Young Spectators, Volkhonka (popular chamber theater), Kolyada Theater (chamber theater founded by Russian playwright, producer and actor Nikolai Kolyada).
Yekaterinburg is the center of New Drama – movement of contemporary Russian playwrights: Nikolai Kolyada, Vasily Sigarev, Konstantin Kostenko, Presnyakov brothers, Oleg Bogayev. Yekaterinburg is also often called capital of contemporary dance for a number of famous contemporary dance companies residing in the city: Kipling, Provincial Dances, Tantstrest with a special department of contemporary dance at the Yekaterinburg University of Humanities.
A number of popular Russian rock bands, such as Urfin Dzhyus, Chayf, Chicherina, Nautilus Pompilius, Nastya, Trek, Agata Kristi and Smyslovye Gallyutsinatsii, were originally formed in Yekaterinburg (Ural Rock is often considered as a particular variety of the rock music, Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg are considered to be the main centers of rock music in Russia). Besides some famous opera singers – Boris Shtokolov, Yury Gulyayev, Vera Bayeva – graduated from the Urals State Conservatory. The Ural Philharmonic Orchestra (current conductor – Dmitry Liss) founded by Mark Paverman and located in Yekaterinburg is also very popular in Russia and in Europe as well as the Ural Academic Popular Chorus – famous folklore singing and dance ensemble.
In Yekaterinburg there are more than 30 museums, among which: several museums of ural minerals and jewellery, some art galleries, one of the largest collections of Kasli mouldings (traditional kind of cast-iron sculpture in the Urals), the famous Shigirskaya Kladovaya – Shigir Collection including the oldest wood sculpture in the world – the Shigir Idol found near Nevyansk and estimated to be made about 9,000 years ago). Yekaterinburg has also a circus building. In Yekaterinburg, there is one of the tallest incomplete architectural structures in the world, the Yekaterinburg TV Tower.