Here are the top 20 landmarks to explore during your first visit to Yekaterinburg:
Vysotsky Viewing Point
The Vysotsky skyscraper is the second tallest building in Russia outside of Moscow. It is absolutely a must visit location in Yekaterinburg – the rooftop opens to a fantastic panoramic view of nearly the entire city. Tickets are purchased downstairs and then a brisk lift ride will take you to the platform on the 52nd floor. Children under 15 are to be accompanied by an adult. It does get a bit chilly at the top from the wind, so warm clothing is recommended even in the summer. After the visit to the viewing point, you can pop into the friendly gift shop and a little museum dedicated to Russia’s famous singer Vladimir Vysotsky.
Weir on river Iset (a.k.a. Plotinka)
This is the city’s most popular park among locals and tourists alike. The place is called Plotinka (‘plotina’ is the Russian word for dam) since this is where Iset river dam was built to power an iron forge. Today, many come here to hang out, listen to street musicians play, watch teens perform various acrobatics or take romantic walks. There are trails on both sides of the river, bridges, fountains, various art sculptures, and even an outdoor museum of large precious rocks. Different points of Plotinka open spectacular views of the Church on the Blood or the city’s signature historic buildings. A tunnel under the main road leads to the reservoir on the other side, with gazebos located on each end and beautifully lit at night.
Monument to the Founders of Yekaterinburg
The monument to Vasily Tatishchev and George Wilhelm de Gennin, the founders of Yekaterinburg, stands on one side of the square at Plotinka. Yekaterinburg was born on 18, November 1723 – the date when the iron factory on the river Iset started working.
One of the city’s oldest structures, the Water Tower used to be a part of the city mint, the 18th-century largest copper coin producer in Russia. Today, it houses a mini-museum of iron artefacts found in excavations of factories that stood on the dam. The keeper of the museum is eager to share the fascinating stories of the tower and the museum’s exhibits, while guiding you through a special one-hour tour.
Istorichesky Skver (Historical Square)
Bordering the city pond, where the River Iset flows through a small dam, the Istorichesky Skver is home to the Monument to the Founders of Yekaterinburg and the Water Tower and is one of the most happening summer spots of the city.
Yekaterinburg History Museum
Opened in 1940, it is one of the city’s oldest museums. The contemporary city museum is dedicated to Yekaterinburg’s history during the 18th and 19th century. They exhibitions is made up of local artifacts, documents, and significant items. The museum has made many of its displays interactive with captions available in English.
The luxurious mansion that belonged to the wealthy Rastorguev-Kharitonov family is located on the Vosnesenskaya Gorka – across the road from the site where the Romanov family was executed. A true masterpiece of classical architecture built in the 18th-early 19th century, with an equally stunning park just behind it.
This area is lined up with restored wooden houses, some turned into memorial museums of the renowned local writers, including Fedor Reshetnikov, Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak, Pavel Bazhov and others. The Literary Quarter also features the Museum of the Ural Writers, and a lovely park.
Located amid an attractive parkland, Yekaterinburg’s oldest church is a striking example of Russian baroque architecture. The original Orthodox church was founded in 1792 and over time has been expanded to also contain a small museum. It is especially popular on Sunday Mass and appreciated for the atmosphere of spirituality and unity.
Nevyansk Icon Museum
The museum features a marvelous collection of 17th-20th centuries icons created by masters of the local Nevyansk school.
Romanov Death Site
This historical site dominated by Byzantine-style Church upon the Blood honours the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, and children slayed by Bolsheviks in 1918 right here, in the basement of Dom Ipatyeva – a house that belonged to the local engineer Nikolai Ipatyev. The place was turned into a museum of atheism during the Soviet times, but in 1977, Boris Yeltsin (the governor of the city at the time) ordered its demolition to prevent possible attacks by the monarchist sympathizers. After Perestroika the place gradually became a pilgrimage destination and in 2003 the lavish church commemorating the Tsar’s family, now elevated to the status of saints, was opened to the public.
Ganina Yama Monastery
Located near the village of Koptyaki, 15 km north from Yekaterinburg, Ganina Yama is a Monastery complex standing on the site where the bodies of the last Russian tsar and his family were thrown after their execution by the Bolsheviks. The site was declared holy ground and a monastery was built to commemorate their deaths. Seven wooden chapels now stand on the site, one for each family member killed.
Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center
Opened in 2015, the complex named after the federation’s first President – Boris Yeltsin is comprised of a conference centre, an art gallery, a bookshop, a cafe and a museum, the latter being of most interest to visitors. The museum showcases Yeltsin’s pivotal role in ushering free-market policies, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Exhibits aim to immerse visitors in the atmosphere of the 1990s and include such things as a recreated Yeltsin’s Kremlin office, with the original furniture, the famous briefcase, which had a button inside authorising the use of nuclear weapons, and mockups of an empty grocery store. Although most of the exhibits are captioned in Russian, you can use an audio guide available for English-speakers.
Yekaterinburg War Memorial
The Black Tulip War Memorial serves as a haunting reminder of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The stark statue portrays a lone, seated soldier holding his rifle and bowing his head.
Yekaterinburg Gallery of Modern Art
The largest private art gallery in the Ural region, the Yekaterinburg Gallery of Modern Art exhibits works that span from traditional painting to graphic design. The gallery’s permanent exhibit details a century’s worth of Ural art, from 1910 to 2010, providing a comprehensive view of the region’s many artistic traditions
Military Technology Museum
One of the world’s largest collections of military technology including tanks, helicopters, armoured vehicles and retro automobiles. Located in Verkhnyaya Pyshma to the north of Yekaterinburg, it’s easy to reach via public transport (buses and route taxis).
Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts
Set in a historic square this museum is a place to explore Russia’s rich cultural heritage with exhibits dating as far as the 14th century. It is especially famous for the Kasli ironworks, a local casting art highly praised at the 1900 Paris Expo.
Museum of Photography in Metenkov House
The museum is located in the house that belonged to a prominent Ekaterinburg photographer Veniamin Metenkov. The only photography museum in the Urals that tells the story of 150 years of this visual art in the city. Besides the permanent exposition, the museum hosts monthly rotating exhibitions of works from the maitres of photography to amateur artists.
The Keyboard Monument
A concrete QWERTY computer keyboard built in 30:1 scale, with 104 concrete keys is located on the the embankment of the Iset River in the city centre and is one of the most popular tourist sites in the city.
Ural Geological Museum
The museum collection features over 500 minerals from the Ural Mountains region including crystals, precious stones, and meteorites.