Ekaterinburg (Russian: Екатеринбург ?,) is a city in Russia, the capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast.
Located on the eastern side of the Urals, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Ural region. Its population of 1,493,749 (2020) makes it the fourth largest city in Russia by population. Between 1924 and 1991 the city was known as Sverdlovsk (Свердловск) in honor of the Bolshevik leader Jakov Sverdlov; the name is still used by the Russian railways and the oblast of which the city is the capital has kept the previous name. The city is famous all over the world because on the night between 16 and 17 July 1918 the last Tsar Nicholas II and his family were shot there.
The city was founded in 1723 by Vasilij Tatiščev and Georg Wilhelm de Gennin and named after the Great Martyr Catherine, patron saint of Tsarina Catherine I of Russia, wife of Peter the Great.
Shortly after the Russian Revolution, on July 17, 1918, Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Fedorovna, their children, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Marija, Anastasija, Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov and some members of his entourage were shot. by the Cheka guards commanded by the Bolshevik commissioner Jakov Michajlovič Yurovsky in Yekaterinburg where they had been transferred from Tobolsk in May 1918.
In those weeks the white troops seemed able to approach the city to free the imperial family, and the decision to eliminate the entire family was therefore taken to eliminate a dangerous symbol around which the different armies that opposed the 'just established Bolshevik regime. In the 1920s, Yekaterinburg became a major industrial center of Russia. The Uralmaš heavy machinery factory was built there.
During World War II, many government technical institutions and entire factories were evacuated from war-affected areas of the Soviet Union (mainly from Moscow) to Yekaterinburg, and many remained there even after the conflict ended. In the 1960s, during the Khrushchev government, many similar five-story apartment buildings were built around the city. Many of these still exist today, in Kirovsky, Tchakalovsky and other residential areas. On May 1, 1960, an American Lockheed U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down in the sky above Yekaterinburg. The pilot was captured and later traded with Rudolph Abel, a Russian spy in the US.
A (rather limited) anthrax epidemic occurred in Yekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk) in April / May 1979, which was attributed, by Soviet sources, to the fact that residents ate contaminated meat. However, US agencies believe that the inhabitants inhaled an aerosol of pathogenic spores accidentally released from a military microbiology facility. Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov's account of the epidemic in his book Biohazard agrees with the US thesis.
Ekaterinburg is located 1,667 km east of Moscow and is regarded as the border between European and Asian Russia. Located east of the Ural Mountains and crossed by the Iset River, Yekaterinburg is surrounded by forest, mainly taiga and small lakes.
Winter is usually 6 months long, from November to the end of April. The temperature during the months of December and January never rises above freezing, sometimes even dropping to minus 40 degrees (although there are usually only a week or two with temperatures below -25 degrees).
Summer is short and lasts two months June and July with temperatures above 20 degrees and peaks of 35 degrees. In August there can be peaks of 30 degrees but it can also drop to 3/4 degrees, and in September the first ones begin