There are some great winter activities in The Ural Mountains

Ekaterinburg Overview

Background | Ural Mountains | Highlights | Tours

Monkey Business offers a variety of activities in Ekaterinburg (or Yekaterinburg as it is often named) and the surrounding Ural Mountains. There is plenty of history from both Czars and Soviet time to keep you occupied and if you are more active there are some great hiking trips in the summer and dog-sledging, ice-fishing and more to keep you here for a few days during the winter.


Yekaterinburg is on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains (so actually just in Asia). It is on the main Trans-Siberian line, 24 hours East of Moscow and 2 nights from Irkutsk. Kazan is on the Ural line, less than 12 hours directly West from Ekaterinburg.


Ekaterinburg was founded by Peter the Great (who also founded St Petersburg) and named after his second wife, Catherine and not the Empress Catherine the Great as many

Real wealth and development came with the discovery of gold in 1814 and Urals emeralds in 1831. A building boom ensued with golden domed churches and the opulent mansions of the "Golden Merchants", some of which you can still see today.

In 1918 first the abdication and later the murder of the Russian royal family headed by Nickolay Romanov, put Ekaterinburg on the world map of infamy and heralded the start of a new era for the country and the city.

By the 1930’s Stalin had turned the city into a huge shipment point for prisoners of the GULAG. In the Second World War Ekaterinburg shone as the city which produced the weapons that saved Russia from Hitler.

The most recent contribution to Russian history by Ekaterinburg was Russia’s last president, Boris Yeltsin, who was the city’s governor until he was summoned to Moscow, a move which eventually resulted in the dismantling of the Communist Party structure and the shattering of the Soviet myth.

Ekaterinburg was a city closed to foreigners, only opening its doors in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This secrecy was mainly due to the presence of much of the USSR’s defence industry. With Ekaterinburg's bustling city on the edge of the Ural Mountains you can experience a much more genuine side of Russia than you will find in cosmopolitan Moscow or St Petersburg. So, a warm welcome to one of Russia’s secrets, one of its most important cities both historically and in the present, and a city with a multitude of surprising and interesting stories to tell.

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Views along the Trans-Siberian Railway

Ekaterinburg and the Urals

On the eastern side of the Ural Mountains, Ekaterinburg (Sverdlosk on railway timetables) has a rich heritage. The Ural Mountains are the natural dividing line between Europe and Asia and a trip to the Ural Mountains should include a trip to the Eur/Asia border Obelisk to place a foot in each Continent. There is plenty to do in the Ural Mountains both in summer and in winter.

City Highlights

Summer options in the heart of the Ural Mountains, EkaterinburgHighlights in the City include the domineering and newly built Yekaterinburg Cathedral, in dedication to the Romanov Royal Family and all victims of the Revolution. It is built on the site of the Apatiev House (junction of Liebknecht & Shartashkaya St) which is where the Romanov Family was reportedly murdered in July 1918.

The Military Museum of Ekaterinburg is testiment to the importance Ekaterinburg had as an arms manufacturer during the war.

War Memorial (opposite the Military Museum) which is quite different to the usual ‘soviet’ war memorials, both in design and because it was designed and erected by War Veterans themselves.

Yekaterinburg City Museum at 46 Malyshev St. The immense foyer is dedicated to the huge forge, designed as an exhibit for the Great Exhibition. The rest of the museum features paintings by some important Russian masters.

The City Dam and Lake (center of Lenin Ave). Take the time to wander down to the middle of the dam – you can see where the whole city started. This is a pleasant area in summer to relax and people-watch.

Geology Museum at 30 Kuibyshev St is one museum that is not to be missed! You will find an outstanding display of astonishing gemstones and locally found gold. It is recommended to have a guide to help translate the sparkling gems and give background information on the Cities mining projects.

Europe-Asia Obelisk. Ekaterinburg is where Europe ends and Asia begins - officially. Have the obligatory photo taken with one foot in each. On the way, there is a ghoulish cemetery where local Mafia mobsters are buried, with memorials that break new ground in bad taste.

Guided Tours

Ekaterinburg CathedralWe have a standard arrival program which includes transfers, introductory City tours and accommodation for the first night. We then have a range of day or overnight tours you can add on to your time in Ekaterinburg. We recommend a minimum of two nights in the City, especially if you want to travel outside the city to explore the Ural Countryside.

City Tour

Our standard arrival program includes an indepth tour of Ekaterinburg. Although tours can change depending on season and guide a typical itinerary will be as follows:

Your guide will lead you through the central streets and through the historical centre of the city and show some original samples of the old machinery on the Historical Square. You will see statues of Ekaterinburg’s founders and communist leaders, and the guide will tell you some local stories, legends and jokes, related to them. On the '1905 Revolution Square' your guide will explain the history and development of the city as seen on the ancient pictures. You will visit the splendid Church of Spilled Blood at the Romanovs’ Death Site and the Chapel of St. Elizabeth. You will observe beautiful views of Ekaterinburg and the City Lake from the embankment and from the Hill of Ascension. You will also take in the sorrowful Afghanistan memorial at the 'Square of Red Army', gorgeous "gold merchant's" villas dating from the 19th century and monumental buildings designed following "Stalin’s neoclassicism" style. The tour also includes a visit to one of the local museums (the most popular option is the "Museum of Gems").

Click here for our Ekaterinburg Tours, including the standard program, different hotel options and a range of seasonal tours in the City and to the Ural Mountains.

There is also a seperate section for winter tours, available from November until March.