What you need to know before traveling to Sverdlovsk

Sverdlovsk is an oblast (federal subject) in the Urals District of Russia. Most of it lies on the Asian side of the Ural Mountains, and is the most heavily populated oblast in Asian Russia. Before the Russian conquest in the 16th century, this was part of the legendary Khanate of Kazan. History buffs staying in discount hotels in Sverdlovsk will find plenty to interest them in this region. The village of Butka is the birthplace of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Soviet production was moved here during World War II to keep it out of the reach of invading Germans. It was here in 1960 that the American pilot Gary Powers was shot down, creating a Cold War crisis. It was also here, in the city of Yekaterinburg, that Czar Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in July, 1918.

Yekaterinburg (formerly called Sverdlovsk) is the capital. Here you can visit the new Church on the Blood, which marks the site where the Czar and his wife and children were executed. The QWERTY Monument is a vast field of rectangular white stones set out like a giant keyboard. A rather grim attraction is the notorious “Mafia Cemetery” whose occupants are mostly slain Russian criminals. At another important Sverdlovsk city, Nizhny Tagil, you can visit the famous Watch Tower on Fox Hill, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and see the very first Russian steam locomotive.

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