Russia’s fourth biggest city is packed with architecture, sculptures, restaurants and cultural events. Home to important historical sites and buildings, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene, Yekaterinburg is overflowing with things to see and do. Here are our top picks.
Explore the city on a Red Line Walking Tour
Thanks to several passionate residents of Yekaterinburg, the Red Line Walking Tour is a self-guided route that takes you past 35 of the city’s top attractions. At your own pace, get acquainted with Yekaterinburg along a 5.5 kilometre (3.4 mile) loop that highlights some of the best views, historical sites and quirky touches the city has to offer. After starting at the Square of 1905, stroll along the Rabochaya Molodezh embankment and make your way past the State Opera and Ballet Theatre to discover two unique public sculptures, the Keyboard Monument and the Beatles Band Monument. The map is available here.
Along the Iset River embankment is a piece of public art that pays tribute to technology and computers. Created in October 2005 by artist Anatoly Vyatkin, the Keyboard Monument consists of around 100 stone blocks, each weighing over 50kg each, positioned to look like an oversized QWERTY keyboard. Designed on a 30:1 scale, the sculpture stretches across 16 metres (53 feet). The locals say if you want to reboot your life step on Ctrl, Alt, Del.
The Pelmeni Club is a cheap and cheerful experience in Russian cuisine. The small and cozy restaurant offers a wide range of sweet and savoury Russian style dumplings using local ingredients and flavours, as well as giving its customers the opportunity to make their own food. Depending on your interest level you can either bind your dumpling portion yourself, or stuff dough to make your own. There are also children’s workshops available. The restaurant has been so popular it has opened a second restaurant on ul., Lunacharsky. English menus are available.
Another play on words is Vertikal, an up-market restaurant also housed in the Vysotsky tower. Just below the viewing platform on the 51st floor, it offers live music, Russian, European and Asian cuisine for both lunch and dinner and is open for just coffees and drinks as well. It is one of the best spots in town to enjoy a luxurious sun-downer or cocktail and savour the view in style. Festooned with chandeliers and an interior scheme that exudes luxury, dressing up and booking ahead for dinner is advised.
On the night of July 16, 1918 the Bolsheviks executed Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children during the Bolshevik Revolution in the basement of a local engineer’s house, ending Russian imperial bloodlines and solidifying Lenin’s power. The house was demolished in 1977 and what stands there now is the resplendent Church upon the Blood, a fully operational chapel, museum and a memorial to the fallen family. An impressive example of Byzantine-style architecture, the church is embellished with gold-topped domes and is rumoured to contain the most expensive religious icon commissioned in Russia.
Close to the city centre is Victory Park, a forest-filled oasis that transports you away from the goings-on of the city. Scattered throughout the park are little gazebos which can be hired for barbecues, picnics and to generally while away an afternoon at your leisure, in semi-privacy. There is also a licensed café that serves classic Russian meals, while you can horse-ride, hire bikes and walk through the trees in the Rope Park. There are even paintball facilities and trampolines for the children.
A key figure in recent Russian political history and a native to the Yekaterinburg area, Boris Yeltsin aimed to turn Russia into a capitalist economy post perestroika, the period of economic transition that marked the end of the Soviet Union. While his terms were sullied with corruption and social inequity, the expansive Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre was established in 2015 to celebrate his work and contemporary Russian political history. The museum has a recreation of Yeltsin’s Kremlin office, complete with original furniture, as well as housing the infamous briefcase which had a button inside to authorise the use of nuclear weapons.
Keeping in line with Russia’s appreciation for Classicism, the Yekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is one of the oldest and most opulent opera theatres in Russia. It has been staging operas and ballets since the late 1800s, making it one of the oldest buildings in the city. Many of Russia’s greats have graced the stage here including Sergei Lemesheve, Irina Aekhipoiva and Boris Shtokolov in their early days, earning it a reputation as a key regional theatre. Its current repertoire comprises of well-known ballets and operas such as La Bohème and Swan Lake.