Border city of Asia and Europe

Yekaterinburg is settled at the base of the Ural Mountains, the border between Europe (and western Russia) and Asia (and Siberia).

Before we stopped, I didn’t know anything about Yekaterinburg except that it was the death site of the Romanovs, the last royal family of Russia, murdered in 1918. I read a lot about Anastasia and her sisters in middle school and high school, so I recognized the name of the town as soon as we learned that the Trans-Siberian railroad passed through the city.

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Jordan had considered going straight through Russia, from Ulaan Baatar to Saint Petersburg, but I kinda put my foot down and said if we were passing through, I needed to stop and see. In the end, he decided that crossing all of Russian (and half of Mongolia) without a single stop would be a bit draining, so a 30-hour stopover was perfect.

Yekaterinburg is a thriving metropolis with over a million inhabitants today, the city filled with great eateries, shopping and anything you’d consider a modern city to have. It might be in Siberia, but it’s not the middle of nowhere.

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Founded in 1723 by Vasily Tatishchev and Georg Wilhelm de Gennin, the city has a history of mining semi-precious gems. Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president after the Soviet Union dissolved, is from Yekaterinburg.

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A statue of the founders overlooks the river that cuts through town. I enjoyed walking through the downtown and seeing the mix of architecture–rustic cabins, baroque mansions from Imperial Russia, drab buildings from Soviet-era, and a few sleek and shiny modern buildings.

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Some of the older buildings were from the early 1800s. Much of the oldest parts of the city overlook the river.

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The chapel of St. Catherine is tucked away just off the river, on Lenin Ave.

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My favorite, though, was all the baroque from the Imperial-era Russia.

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The oldest Orthodox church in town is the Ascension Church, built in the late 1700s and restored a few times since then. It’s not a museum, but a functioning church. We slipped in, admired the Orthodox iconostastis and painted panels and pillars. I kept my hat on and Jordan took his off, as per Orthodox customs.

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By the end of the day we’d walked all over Yekaterinburg’s city center and were pretty tired. The first half of the day it snowed, but near the end (As you can see in this photo) it had cleared, and we got a few lovely images of the Ascension church. The only thing left in Yekaterinburg to see was the Romanovs’ death site.

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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