There are places people dream to live in and there are places nobody wants to be except for those who are already there. Nizhni Tagil belongs to the latter category. The Russians have many jokes about it all with the same idea that only losers live in Nizhni Tagil. Well, there is quite a bunch of losers as Nizhni Tagil is the second largest city in Middle Urals with population almost 400,000 people.
I thought that the place would never interest foreign tourists, even though I knew the city quite well as yeah..I had been one of those lucky people to live there with my parents. Anyway, 5 years ago I met a group of young Americans in Yekaterinburg. They asked me if there was anything interesting to see in Nizhni Tagil. With all my honesty I explained that there are only two interesting things in Tagil: the iron plants which make the sky above the city cheerfully colorful of all possible hues but blue and numerous prisons (including a female prison and a special prison for policemen) set around the city. On hearing this information my American friends grew terribly excited and the next thing they wanted to do was to go there ASAP! Then I realised that Nizhni Tagil was actually a good tourist destination for tough men only!
I can't promise you a tour to the zona (a Russian word for prison) though in Russia nothing is impossible, as you know. In any case you will see many of the ex prisoners on the streets. There's a local saying and it was proved by my own statistics that every citizen of Nizhni Tagil has at least one friend or relative who has been to the prisons, of course against his or her will. And not only the locals, some of the Russian celebrities mostly from show biz of the eighties could tell about their experience of staying in Tagil prisons. Unfortunately, they wouldn't admit it, but we know their names. It's a small world especially in the Urals.
Back in the 90ies every second man in Tagil was in a mafia gang. For example, nearly half of my former school girl-friends married the dodgy type of guys. You don't hear much of mafiosos in Russia these days but life in Nizhni Tagil is still controlled by mafia in many ways.
The rest of the population works at the plants polluting the city air constantly. One of them is the world famous Uralvagonzavod. It produces wagons for Russian railway and modern tanks T-90 and T-95 for whoever wants to buy them, India for instance is one of the importers. The citizens still remember how a crazed worker of Uralvagonzavod stole a tank and went on a joy ride around Nizhni Tagil. He didn't go far and ended up apparently not far away from his house in one of the prisons. These days you can drive a tank in Nizhni Tagil legally during Russian Defence Expo. It is held every summer in Nizhni Tagil. The exhibition offers many other military toys for big boys to play with.
When asked why they don't move somewhere from Nizhni Tagil, my friends usually say that it's nice and quiet there...
There are some lovely places in Nizhni Tagil like the Fox Hill with a fire tower (above) and the city pond (below)
The monument to the tough workers of the local plants was set in nizhni Tagil this year on the Day of Metallurgists - the main city celebration day.
- Urals through the eyes of an Italian photographer
- Russian Expo Arms. Nizhni Tagil 2011
- The Demidoff family – from the Urals to Italy
- Gora Belaya – a mountain to mount in summer
- Secret towns in the Urals