September 18th is the first day of the new season in the Yekaterinburg Philharmonic Hall (or Philharmonia in Russian).
A week before the opening my colleagues from the local travel agencies and I were invited for an excursion to the theatre. It’s true that the Philharmonic Hall of Yekaterinburg is one of the best in Russia but very few people outside the city know about it, though our orchestra has frequent performances in Europe and the USA and the concerts are always sold out.
The Art Nouveau style building on 38a, Karl Libknekht St. was completed in 1917 but after all the turmoil in Russia, the Hall was opened only in 1936. In 1973 the Phiharmonia bought a huge German pipe organ that weighs 23 tons.
Today the Philharmonic Hall gives 250 concerts a year including concerts of the world famous musicians such as Vladimir Spivakov, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Yuri Bashmet to name a few. Therefore, it’s better to book tickets in advance. The website of the Philharmonia offers on-line booking however it’s only in the Russian language: http://www.sgaf.ru You can also watch there some concerts on-line.
I hope this post will convince some of you to visit the Philharmonia. At least the excursion by the director Alexander Kolotursky convinced me to buy a ticket to the concert of the Hong Kong Orchestra of Chinese National Instruments on October 5th. This concert is a part of the Euro-Asian Festival of Music held in Yekaterinburg for the second time. Musicians from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Korea and India are performing on the main stage of the Philharmonic Hall from October 4th to October 16th.
Tickets are still available.
Prices range from 300 to 2000 rubles.
p.s. on the Facebook page of the Philharmonia https://www.facebook.com/sgafru I’ve found this video: One Day with the violinist Leonid Orlov. Leonid is a good friend of mine. Have a look at the working day of a violinist in Yekaterinburg.
On August 17th Yekaterinburgers celebrated 290s Birthday of the city. The Jubilee attracted half a million people (one third of the city population). Probably the number of people was so big due to the weather: +30 Celcius. Occasional rains during the day were a relief for many. In my opinion, the next step for the government should be – to clean the city pond so that we could bathe right in the city center!
The so-called City’s Day (Den Goroda) is celebrated in Yekaterinburg on the third weekend of August. Although, officially it’s November 17th. On this date in 1723 the State Iron Factory of the future Yekaterinburg was put into operation. Well, the history is the history but November here is bitterly cold so let it be August!
If you asked the locals what they usually do on the city’s Birthday most of them would say “Oh, we go to datcha to stay away from the crowd” or something like “I never go to the city center on this day, who wants to see all those drunk slobs from Uralmash and vicinities”. So the general opinion is that the City’s Day is a chaos when Lenin Street is occupied by the chaffs from the industrial neighborhoods. Frankly speaking it used to be so even 5 years ago but things are changing. The alcohol ban in the city center helps a bit but most importantly, the people’s mentality is changing. Young people prefer dancing on the streets to drinking on the corner.
Alyona Grigoryan, my Facebook friend posted the other day the following comment:
“This year, the City’s Day was a nice surprise. The festival itself wasn’t a surprise, it was just very good!!! I was surprised to see so many happy people who really enjoyed the holiday. The people were so beautiful, well-dressed like in a summer resort. So many people came with the families, with children and grannies. Lots of people came with little kids and babies and nobody was afraid of a crowd. There were many policemen, all dressed in white, they were friendly. May be that’s the reason why everything was quiet, nobody tried to make a row. I hardly saw any drunk people, even those with beer were stopped by the police. I saw how the policewomen came to men with beer and asked to take it away. And there were many nice intelligent faces. 6 years ago it was impossible to see. So beautiful! People were sitting on the lawns just like in Europe. They were enjoying their time and having fun. The city is really improving. I wish it were always like that!”
click on gallery to see more faces of Yekaterinburg and the fireworks:
The photo exhibit Best of Russia is held in Yekaterinburg for the 3d time. It represents the photos taken by Russian professional and amateur photographers in 580 Russian locations in 2012.
The project shows the life of the country during one year viewed by Russian citizens. Here you can travel to the wilderness of Kamchatka, see the rural South of Russia or witness the riots in Moscow.
The youngest participant of the project is 7 years old, the oldest is 80 years old. The only rule of the contest: photos have to be created in Russia!
The exhibition is open in Yekaterinburg till August 25th in the Museum of Fine Arts on Vainera st. 11 from Tue. till Sun.
opening hours: 11.00 - 19.00, Wedn-Thur 11.00 - 20.00
admission: 150rub, photo: 50rub The cash desk closes 1 hour before the closing time of the museum.
click to the gallery to see some more photos:
Who said that travelling with kids is difficult. An Australian family with five children stopped in Yekaterinburg during their Trans-Siberian journey and we took them to the Euro-Asia border
Here's a very intersting travle blog that all of them have been writing: http://miliking-meanderings.com/
This story is about their experience in Yekaterinburg and our tour to the border:
You can also read more there about their staying in China and Mongolia!
On August 10th we are off for a new one day cheap-trip to the emerald mines!
Ever wanted to try treasure-hunting? The Ural Mountains have a lot of precious and semi-precious stones. Visit the largest emerald deposit of the Urals and search for beryl crystals in refuse heaps of the emerald-quarrying factory, the so-called Field of Dreams!
Saturday, August 10th
9.30 Meeting at Dynamo Metro Station, Yekaterinburg
We are taking a comfortable mini-van to get to the Malyshevo village (94 km of Yekaterinburg)
11.00 Arrival to Sretinsky deposit – the place where the first emeralds in the Urals were found.
12.00 We’ll visit Mariinsky deposit – the largest one in the Urlas. The mine there is 125m deep and 1400m long. In 1993 the emerald that weighs 1771g. was found there. It was named President after the first president Boris Yeltsin.
13.00 Hunting for treasures starts! Every stone that you find in the mines is yours!
14.00 Lunch in the café in Malishevo
15.00 An excursion in the Malyshevo Museum of Minerals
16.00 Workshop with jewelers and specialists in stone-cutting. There you are be able to cut and polish the stones you have found.
17.30 Departure to Yekaterinburg
19.00 Arrival in the city back to Dynamo Metro
Price per person = 2400 rub
for children under 14: 2350 rub
the price includes transportation, guided tour with an English interpreter, lunch and insurance
Please, book the tour in advance!
For more information and for booking:
Last Saturday the regional Ministry of Tourism invited the travel agencies of Yekaterinburg to the Festival of Church Bells to the city of Kamensk-Uralski.
Kamensk-Uralski is the third largest city in Sverdlovsky Region (Middle Urals). I doubt it will ever become a popular tourist destination but it has beautiful river sceneries around and the festival is worth seeing too. The city of metallurgists holds the Festival of Church Bells every year in July. A local citizen Mr. Pyatkov opened his bell foundry here in 1991. Now it’s the largest bell producer in Russia and abroad.
Our visit started at the bell foundry. There are excursions to the foundry held daily Mon-Fri. You can see how the church bells are made and of course try to make it ring!
The festival held in front of the chapel included dancing, singing and lots of ringing.
They say that bell ringing has an ability to heal people. Bell towers of Russian Churches are always located in the western corner. It is believed the bells can scare evil forces that always come from the west. Just like the communists used to say!
On that hot summer day not every one chose to listen to the bells
photos by Irina Loktionova
The annual Festival of Bashkir and Tatar Culture called Sabantuy was held on June 16th in the Mayakovskogo Park of Yekaterinburg.
Sabantuy is celebrated in many Russian cities. While in Moscow it’s not widely promoted as the authorities are afraid of the ethnic clashes. In Yekaterinburg the festival has been celebrated for many years with the support of the local government, however the police was everywhere in the park just in case. Fortunately, there was no work for the police during the festival. The city mayor invited everyone to join the event irrespective of nationalities and religions.
The guests could take place in traditional sport activities
Tatars and Bashkirs have been sharing the Urals with Russians for centuries. Particularly the Bashkirs who live mainly in Southern Urals. Theys speak their languages of a Turkic group and are Sunni Muslims.
Today there are about 2 millions of Bashkirs in the world. Yekaterinburg has about 2% of Bashkir population which is less than 25 000 people. The older generation of Tatars and Bashkirs would prefer if their children married people of the same folk but it’s getting more and more difficult especially in big cities.
Sabantuy is an opportunity for Tatars and Bashkirs to preserve their culture. Many elderly people gather in the park to meet their friends and to speak their language.
click to the gallery to see more photos from the Sabantuy Festival
At the end of May our Russian-American-French team (the members of the English club and the expats in Yekaterinburg) went to the Falconry Center “Kholzan”. Kholzan is a rehabilitation center for birds of prey.
Golden eagles, sea-eagles, falcons and other birds are usually brought to the center in a very poor condition: some of them got hit by cars on highways but mostly the birds were the victims of hunters. As the guides of the center said, every August when villagers go to pick up mushrooms and berries in the woods, the center receives dozens of wounded owls picked up by the villagers. For hunters it’s just sport – to shoot a big bird. For the workers of Kholzan it’s an every-day work to cure the birds of prey.
Book a tour to Kholzan here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/kholzan
Some birds will never be able to fly. They stay in the center forever. In such cases the center tries to find or to buy mates for them.
After the excursion we sat in the wooden house where we received herbal tea and watched a documentary on the life of birds of prey. Normally, the tour includes watching the falcons hunting up in the sky but that week the young falcons were injured so we just took pictures with them.
Instead of a hunt the falconers showed us a flight of an eagle-owl in the woods.
A three hour stay in Kholzan ends up with a barbeque. You can bring sausages and other food to have a picnic in the fresh air.
Book a tour to Kholzan here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/kholzan
The falconry center Kholzan is located 30km of Yekaterinburg near the town of Sysert in the territory of the Sova recreation center.
On June 16th we are off for a new one day rafting trip to Nature Park Olenyi Ruchyi (Deer Creeks)
You will see the beauty of the Ural Mountains, so very much desired by tourists because there are no mountains within the city. The landscape of Olenyi Ruchyi is mainly Ural forest and taiga along the Serga River. We’ll do rafting through the park and then visit the caves: Cave Druzhba (Friendship) where you can find prints of sea shells which prove that the sea used to divide European and Asian continents 400 million years ago. Bolshoy Proval (great gap) is a vertical cave. It’s a 33m deep well with temperature +5C., so make sure to take a warm sweater before getting down even on a hot day. The Serga is a very quiet and shallow river. No special skills for rafting are required!
Sunday, June 16th
8.00 Meeting at Geologicheskaya Metro Station (Circus area), Yekaterinburg
We are taking a mini-van to get to the Nature Park
10.00 A walk through the park (5 km) to the river. Two boats for 5 persons each (plus guides-instructors) will be waiting for us near the Karstoviy Bridge
Aprox. 14.00 Arrival to the rock Lyagushka. There we have a picnic and say goodbuy to the rafting guides
15.00 A walk to the caves and back to the park exit (7 km) A stop in a café for dinner.
19.00 Departure to Yekaterinburg
21.00 Arrival to the city
The timing in the park is only approximate. We are flexible with the schedule and can have as many stops on the river and in the park as we wish.
Price per person for a group of 10 people: 2300rub
for children from 7: 2250rub
The price includes: transfer, entrance fee to the park, rafting boat rental, services of a guide and boat instructors.
Please, book the tour in advance as we need only 10 persons for the trip!
For more information and for booking:
In April I went to China on holiday and obviously lost touch with Facebook. As I returned back to Yekaterinburg I found a message on my FB page Yekaterinburg For You: Polina, a young entrepreneur, wrote that she had just opened an Indie Hostel in the city center and it might interest foreign readers of the askural blog.
A few days later there was our weekly get-together of the English Club at the Keeer Restaurant. That day we had new foreign visitors: a young Chinese man who was actually from Sweden and a German doctor. Both were travelling by Trans-Siberian trains and both had checked in a new Indie Hostel here.
That was certainly a sign that I should go and check the place out!
Just like other hostels in the city, Indie Hostel is located in a 3 room apartment in an ordinary apartment building. Its location on 85 Belinskogo Street is quite central in the southern corner of the historical city center. The hostel is only a 5 minutes’ walk from Yekaterinburg World Trade Center and St. Trinity Cathedral. Besides, it’s very close to a large Mayakovskogo Park which is rarely visited by travelers who stay in the train station area.
Polina has done a good job – she converted two bedrooms into an 8-bed dormitory room (1 bed – 500 rub) and a private economy double room for 1400. On the day of my visit the hostel was full of people. The private room was occupied by an Irish-Australian couple of friends while the Russians from the dormitory room were cooking lunch in the kitchen.
I liked the friendly atmosphere of the Indie Hostel and hope it’ll become a long-term project that will last till 2018 when Yekaterinburg is hosting the games of the Football World Cup and till Expo 2020 (it’ll be confirmed in November 2013 so fingers crossed!)
You can book a bed in the hostel vie email firstname.lastname@example.org; on Facebook page: Indie Hostel or via various booking websites.
Travelers who stay at Indie Hostel have special discount prices for Yekaterinburg tours by askural.com! Ask Polina to show you the photos of Yekaterinburg tours with descriptions and a price list.