If it is your first visit to Ekaterinburg and you only have a couple of days here, certainly it is better for you to book a guided tour not to miss the most interesting spots. But if you plan to spend more than just a few days in Ekaterinburg, well, you can locate the spots of interest yourself quite easily and to explore them one by one. Let’s get aquainted with Ekaterinburg first. Get to Ekaterinburg city center ( if you are not already there).
There is a large street called Lenina, you can’t miss this one. It is a street, but a part of it looks like a boulevard, with the pedestrian walkway and the trees in the middle. Assuming you are at the top part of the street (#1 see Map)
you will see the park and the monument with an “Eternal Flame” to commemorate the people died during the wars at the very top. Let’s walk down Lenina Street for a few blocks. We end up with 1905 year square, (#2) the main square of Ekaterinburg. On your left you can see the Lenin monument, one of the few in Russia surviving perestroika. The general trend at the time was to get rid of all Lenin monuments and many were destroyed, but in Ekaterinburg, people always were skeptical about the trends from the other parts of Russia and it was decided that Lenin will be here to stay. In fact, before the Russian revolution, there was a magnificent cathedral here. It was destroyed and Lenin monument was build on it’s foundation. Have a look down, the stones the road is made of are two centuries old. They remember the horse carriages and the revolutioners marching the streets and taking up the power in 1917.
On your right, there is a clock tower. The building is the city administration.
The city hall or "Rathaus", as we say in Germany. If you turn right here, there is an old street called Vainera. On your left you can see a large shopping mall, called TSUM ( “ЦУМ ” in Russian, The Central Universal Shop – as it was called – and still is – during the Soviet Era). Get to the third floor and see the fur shop there. Even if you don’t want to buy anything there, you will be surprised with the assortment and quality of the things available there. One cannot find such a variety of fur and leather stuff anywhere else, but Russia, these days.
Wander around TSUM area. In the summertime the artists sell their works nearby, the area around has a slight bohemian accent, like Montmartre in Paris. Do remember though, that works of art and antiques need a special permission to be taken out of Russia. Even the modern paintings, even the cheap ones. The permission is not to hard to get, but it takes about a week and it cost a few roubles.
If you go down Vainera street (#3) a bit further you can see two storey 19 th century houses, where rich Ekaterinburg merchants used to live back then. At the right there is a second hand bookshop called “Bukinist”. You can get some very good books there, but alas, mostly in Russian. If you go down further down to the Malysheva street crossroad (you won’t miss it, it is the large street with lots of noisy traffic), there is a jewellery shop on your left, it is worth checking. Though Russian jewellery is not very cheap, the designs are nice and you might wish to buy something there, providing you are not a backpacker and if you’re into these sort of things, of course. One can buy nice Russian-made gold watches, for instance, for under a $1000. Try the same exercise somewhere in Europe . Go back to Lenina Street. Noisy Malysheva Street is nothing special, we won’t bother checking it out this time. So, we are back at the 1905 year square. Do you know, by the way, what happened in the year 1905? The first, unsuccessful coup against the Tsarist government, that was brutally crashed. Ekaterinburg, still has lots of Legacy of the Soviet Era. People who grew up with the names commemorating the Soviet heroes, usually do not link the names of the streets and places to the bloody past, it’s just the familiar names, nothing else. They got used to them, that’s why people of Ekaterinburg were reluctant to re-name their squares and streets in 1990’s back to their historic names.
So we are going down Lenina street. Just one block away from the square there is a Dam (#4), “Plotinka” in Russian. To the left there is a “city pond” or “Gorodskoi Prud” (#5) in Russian. To the right there is Iset river following down and the “ Historic Square” (#6), looking more like a park. In fact it is the site of a plant from which the city of Ekateringburg begun. There was also a mint here, producing the Russian coins from Peter the First era onwards. Do you know that some Russian early “square” coins were quite large and heavy? Up to three kilos of weight. Try fitting such coin in your pocket.
There is an excellent museum on the right hand side of Iset river of the “Historic Square”, hosting the biggest collection of “Kasli” (little town in Sverdlovsk Oblast) iron foundry artistic works (some of them are priceless – like Kasli pavillion – the iron gazebo in the Russian style which was exposed in the World Fair in Paris in 1900), a good collection of old Russian icons and paintings.
Have a look at the large Stalin era residential building at the right, the one with the arch, it was the house where the Soviet government officials used to live in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Still it is a very prestigious address in Ekaterinburg.
Cross the bridge and have a look to the right. Here you can see an ornate Ex-Soviets House, the wonderful example of the 19th century architecture belonging to one of the rich persons of 19 th century Ekaterinburg.
Going a bit further down Lenina street you will see the monument to your right, two male figures in bronze.
One is Tatishev, the founder of the city. The other one is general De Genine. Peter the 1 st attorney at the Urals. Here is the little chapel aswell. It was built some 5 years ago to commemorate the destructuion of yeat another Cathedral that was destroyed here after the Russian revolution.
At your left there is a General Post Office (#7), there are the international telephone books behind it, at the international phone section. One can call overseas using the public phones there. The rest of the public phones in Ekaterinburg are for the city calls only.
Let’s go further down Lenina street, using the pedestrian part in the middle. We will soon end up with another monument of Sverdlov (#8), the Russian revolution hero, whose name the city of Ekaterinburg was bearing for 60 years. To your left is the classical building of the Urals State University (#9). To your right is the Opera and Ballet Theatre (#10).
If you go yet further down you will see the round constructivist building to your left. This is Iset Hotel, built in 1920’s the city’s landmark. On the other side of Lenina Street, there is a shopping mall called “The City Center”, formerly “The Sverdlovsk film studios” (#11).
If you keep on going down you will soon see “Transaero airlines” ticketing office on your right and further down the railway bridge. If you go upstairs through the stairs right under the bridge you will find yourelf at the “Vostochnaya” railway station. One can take a local train to the Ural mountains here (#12)
Keep on going down Lenina St. You will soon see the large building at the very end. This is the Urals State Technical University. The one president Yeltsin and my Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law has graduated from.
It will probably take half a day to walk down Lenina Street from it’s beginning to it’s end, but now you are more or less familiar to the central part of Ekaterinburg and now I can take you further.
Let’s start the second part of our Ekaterinburg virtual tour at the crossroad of Lenina and Karla Libknehta Street, at the left hand side of the Lenina street (looking towards the State Technical University). The nice old building on your left is the Colosseum (Kolizey) Stereo movie theater(#1). At the opposite side of Karla Libknehta Street there is a Muscial Comedy theatre (#2). Let’s go left down Karla Libkhehta Street to the next crossroad with Pervomaiskaya Street. On your left is the new Cathedral of All Saints on the blood (#3), built on a place where Nicholas II family was murdered in 1918. Originally, there was a house of engineer Ipatyev, the murder took place by Lenin’s order in a basement floor of the house. The original house was demolished in 1975.
You can freely enter the Cathedral and see it’s impressive interior. Though opened only two years ago, the Cathedral quickly became Ekaterinburg’s major landmark.Now, after you’ve seen the Cathedral, cross the Karla Libknehta Street. You are now in front of Rastorguev-Karitonov’s house (#4). The house is the architectural masterpiece now hosts the Children Creativity Center of Ekaterinburg. The rich merchant family of Rastorguev-Karitonov lived in this palace in 19 th century. They belonged to the “Old Believers”, the oppressed religious minority. When the house was build, the legend say, the owners made underground tunnels to be able to escape from the house in an emergency situation. The rumours were that the enormous wealth of Rastorguev-Karitonovs was partially converted to golden bars that were hidden somewhere in the tunnels. Though some of the tunnels were found, (with no gold, though), chances are there are more, still uncovered. There is a nice small park (#5), behind the house, with the little pond which hosts a little round gazebo on an island, the bridge connects the gazebo with the shore. A lovely spot.
To the right of Rastorguev-Karitonovs house there is a Church of Ascension (#6). Painted blue it is a lovely Russian church, that was closed for public during Soviets (but, thankfully not destroyed as many others) but restored and re-opened in 1990’s.
Go back to Karla Libknehta Street and keep on going down. On your right there is a white free standing building, which is a Young Spectator Theatre – the children’s theatre (#7). Here Karla Libknehta Street ends and next section of the same main street is called Sverdlova.
Sverdlova street was mostly built during 1940’s and 1950’s with the 5 storey apartment blocks which commonly known as Stalin-type houses.If you keep on going down, you will see the railway ticketing office on the ground floor of one of the buildings. On the opposite side of the road is the tall building of ex “Tourist” hotel (#8). The hotel was started in 1970’s, but for some reason was not finished and was abandoned for over 20 years !!! Just recently it was sold to private companies and they have made it into an office building.
Keep on going down Sverdlova Street. There are shops on the both sides of the street selling clothing. Soon the street ends and across the traffic of Chelyuskintsev street
you can see the monument to Soviet Tankists died during the World War II and the main railway station building behind it (#9). Railway station is very crowded, and there could be some pickpockets.There is a taxi stand near the station, but the fare should be negotiated prior to commencing the trip. Be aware that this particular stand is notorious for very high fares, among locals.
At the left end of Sverdlova Street there is a grey building of Sverdlovsk Hotel (#10).
Now, after walking down Karla Libknehta and Sverdlova Streets you should be very familiar with the central Ekaterinburg.
If you are visiting the Cathedral, you will need about half a day for the walk described.
Now we will explore by foot another important steet of Ekaterinburg, Ulitsa 8 Marta, or the 8th of March Street. 8 th of March is an international women’s day, still a major holiday in Russia. There’s no mothers day in Russia, so the 8 th of March is the main holiday with a woman and mother in mind. Men usually give fresh flowers to women they know, including wifes, mothers and work colleagues. No surprise the price of fresh flowers doubles and even triples for the day. So, back to 8 th of March Street. It starts not far from "Plotinka", the Dam at the top right corner of 1905 year square and crosses Lenina Street just before the bridge. Let’s assume we are staying on a crossroad of Lenina and 8th March Street facing the bridge (#1). Let’s turn right to 8 th March Street. Walking down we will see on our left the entrance to Metro Station (#2) made of marble and on the right the vivid, though very tiny (not even on a map) shopping street called Bankovski Pereulok. Here you can see the shopping pavilions selling all sort of things, from T-shirts to CD’s. On the opposite side of 8 th March Street, there is a white building of Estrada (Popular music) Theatre (#3). More like a concert hall, really, where the concers of Russian bands often take place. Ekaterinburg is famous for it’s rock stars. In the Early 1990’s Ekaterinburg rock bands like Nautilus Pompilius, Chaif, Nastya, Agatha Cristie made a huge success and were immencely popular in all areas of ex-USSR.Walking further down vivid 8 th March St towards the intersection with Malysheva Street we will see the Malyshev monument (#4) on the left and behind it, the small plane on the roof of ex- DOSAAF building. DOSAAF ran the piloting and parachuting schools from 1930’s to 1970’s all around the USSR, Ekaterinburg is no exeption.
On the opposite side of Malysheva street one can see the tall office building known to locals as “Rubin”, the Ruby (#5). Keep on walking further down 8 th March Street, there’s lots of shops from both sides of the street. Pass the intersection with Radisheva Street. If you turn right here, there will be a little shopping complex, or mini-market selling mostly imported clothing and footware (#6). You can get some bargains here. Started as a monkey business, the trade where sellers used to go to China, Poland and Turkey for shopping and coming back with the bags full of goods, selling it then at the city markets got the name “The Shuttle Trade”. Since early 1990 it grew into a major business. Some things you can buy here is still a contraband stuff that was smuggled into the country, so you can get it at a fraction of what it costs elsewhere. Though this trade now is more regulated and controlled.
Let’s go back to 8th March St. There is a nice park behind the fence on the left hosting a little nice chapel. Going further down you will see a "Kupets" (The Merchant) supermarket (#7) on your right, you can’t miss this one. It is the best spot in town for grocery shopping. It accepts Visa and Mastercard. One can buy live sturgeon (kind of fish that gives black caviar - very special taste - a delicacy) and black Russian caviar here. It will certainly make your pockets lighter, though.
Just opposite you can see the State Circus Building (#8)and the abandonedTV tower. It wasn’t completed 20 years ago for some reason and still is. There are eternal discussions in the city government on what to do with this tower, still to the same result. The tower is yet unfinished.
8 th of March Street is the longest street in Ekaterinburg. We will stop here and won’t go any further down. If we keep on going down we will see the Hospital complex on the right and eventually the Interstate Bus Terminal on the left. But apart from that there’s not more to see further down.
We rather turn left near the circus and walk down Kuibysheva Street. On your right you will see an Asian looking building, once a Chinese restaurant, now a shopping complex (#9).
Cross the small bridge and you will see the Atrium Palace hotel on your right. (#10).We will stop here, go inside and relax in one of it’s bars.
If takes about 2 hours to do the walk described. Allow more time if you're visiting the market pavillions and the supermarket.
More phantastic pictures you will find in " Gallery"