Ekaterinburg or Yekaterinburg is an intriguing stop-off on the Trans-Siberian Railway route and an essential visit for those with even a modicum of interest in Russian history. This is where, in July 1918, Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and five children were murdered by the Bolsheviks, signalling the final chapter of the Romanov dynasty that had ruled Russia for over 300 years. The magnificent Cathedral on the Blood now stands where the family met their end and contains several fascinating monuments to the Romanovs as well as memorabilia from their last days here.
Seemingly a magnet for significant moments in Russia’s colourful history, Yekaterinburg is also the birthplace of Boris Yeltsin and the city where American U2 pilot Gary Powers parachuted into in 1960, sparking a major international incident and intensifying the cold war in the process. There are several captivating museums providing an in-depth view into the town’s intriguing past such as the Military Museum and the Museum of Local History.
Make sure to visit the intriguing Museum of Youth during your stop-off in Yekaterinburg. Containing displays by local art students inspired by Russia’s young victims of war and totalitarianism, the work here is a revelatory glimpse into the psyche of a generation coming to terms with its country’s past.
Despite popular legend suggesting that Tsar Nicholas II’s young daughter Anastasia survived and escaped from the massacre of the Romanovs, forensic tests in the 1990s confirmed that she indeed died alongside her family in Yekaterinburg in 1918. The missing bones, which prompted the legend of her escape, belonged to her sister Maria and were discovered just outside the city in 2007.