Yekaterinburg

The main thing to see in Yekaterinburg is the Romanov Death Site, where the last tsar of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, was shot along with his whole family in 1918. The building where they were shot was destroyed by Boris Yeltsin in 1977, but there’s a huge church that has been built there as a memorial on the site, the Church upon the Blood.

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You can’t miss the fact that this is the memorial site for the Romanovs when arriving at the church.

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It was raining a s bit chilly when I visited this site on Friday – which added to my somber mood – but this beautiful church is, in itself, a solemn place.

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All the family members were canonised in 2000 and here is their icon.

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In the museum next door, water colours painted by the tsar’s sister, Grand Duchess Olga, was on display. She fled with her husband to Denmark and escaped execution.

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Apart from the Romanov Death Site, I visited the Literary Quarter and saw the Literary Life of the Urals in the 20th Century Museum. Quite a mouthful, but a delightful little museum, where the attendants were obviously delighted that I had come, and tried to explain as much as they could.

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The Matenkov House Museum of Photography had an exhibition arranged by thr National Geographic called Artctic Wave. Superb photos of northern lights for example, and I particularly liked the fact hat one photographer’s name was Bjorn Anders – my first name and first middle name. In the Middle East, customs officials fairly frequently given up after my first two names and skipped my surname, so I’ve been called Bjorn Anders more than once.

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I had to search quite a while for the Nevyansk Icon Museum. It has been moved since the Lonely Planet guide was published. It’s now above an art shop on 19 ul. Belinskogo. It took a while to find it, but it was definitely worth the effort. This is an absolutely superb museum (free!) and they also show you how they restore old icons. Unfortunately you can’t take any photos there. Here’s where the icon museum is now.

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My impression is that people are more friendly and helpful as I travel east. When I walked into an office to ask about the icon museum, the entire staff became involved in trying to help me, getting maps out, discussing the issue loudly, and making photo copies and things. No smiles yet, though. But maybe soon? And not true for all. The landlady at the hostel in Yekaterinburg and her colleague were clearly uninterested in helping me find some of the local sights. If you put your hostel on Booking.com, has it not occurred to you to get a metro map, local map and some info on local sights for guests? When I showed one of them my photos from the Church upon the Blood, she kind of just shrugged her shoulders.

By the way, I just to report that McDonald’s in Russia doesn’t have the McVeggie burger, and Subway in Russia doesn’t have the veggie sandwich. Strange for an Orthodox country where everybody is supposed to be fasting meat/fish/dairy Wednesdays and Fridays. In Egypt, with only 20% Coptic Orthodox, you can get a fasting pizza at Domino’s.

Other things I saw in Yekaterinburg were the City Pond. Well, I’m not sure pond is the right word.

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A very modern-looking synagogue behind a fairly basic kebab place.

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Some very beautiful old houses.

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Some modern-looking areas of town.

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A statue of Yakov Sverdlov, the founder of Sverdlovsk, which is what Yekaterinburg used to be called.

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Some people fishing by the River Iset.

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Yekaterinburg is probably most famous for the Romanovs being killed there, but there other things to see there as well, and they’ve got a red line running through town with information signs with QA codes – similar to Perm.

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