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It was nearly three hundred years ago when this town was founded on the eastern slopes of the Urals mountains on the banks of the beautiful Iset river. It was given the name of Ekaterinburg, to honour the memory of the martyr Saint Catherine, after whose name the Emperor Peter the Great's wife was baptized.
The official date of its foundation is considered to be 7th (18th) November, 1723. It is on this day that one of the European best iron-making works of that time was put into operation. The plant-castle of Ekaterinburg, the seat of the management of all metallurgical and mining enterprises of the region, became an important outpost in the development of the vast areas of the Urals and Siberia. In 1721 Ekaterinburg was granted the status of a town. In the 19th century it turned into a large centre of industry, commerce and, subsequently, banking. Lying on the border between Europe and Asia the city played an important trade-intermediary role. In 1923 Ekaterinburg became the administrative centre of the vast Urals region (it was called Sverdlovsk from 1924 to 1991). In the 1930s, giant plants were constructed here, which brought about a considerable increase in the population. During the years of World War II the city turned into a huge arsenal of military technology and armaments. After the war Sverdlovsk continued to develop as a major industrial and cultural centre in the Urals. In 1967 its millionth resident was born.
Today Ekaterinburg is a city with the population of a million and a half and a powerful industrial and research centre. Its heavy transport and chemical engineering plants, non-ferrous metallurgical works and military industrial enterprises occupy a leading place in the national economy. The city has about 15 institutions of higher education; it is the seat of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Ekaterinburg is a major business centre in Russia. Its financial and banking institutions take an active part in Russian economy, making a substantial contribution to the development of cooperation with foreign countries. More and more foreign companies are successfully operating representative offices and joint ventures here. Ekaterinburg's unique geographical position on the border of Europe and Asia offers broad opportunities for assuming the role of an important centre of cooperation between East and West.
Ekaterinburg is a large junction of seven railway routes. The daily life of the city is provided for by its social infrastructure. Its numerous shops, public catering facilities, trams, trolley-buses, buses, and "Metro" render services to its residents and visitors. The city has dozens of public libraries, cinemas, concert halls, children's music and art schools. Its Opera House, Drama Theatre, Musical Comedy Theatre, Theatre of Youth, Puppet Shows Theatre, Philharmonic Society, and Circus are well known in the country. The museums of Ekaterinburg are famous for their unique collections.
The city has a unique appearance. It seems that history itself is embodied in its streets and avenues, architectural ensembles and sights.
More than 600 monuments of history and culture are located in the city, and 43 of them are considered to be top national monuments because of their special significance.
The heart of Ekaterinburg is its dam (Plotinka), that permitted the initial development of the city's industrial base. The dam was erected in 1723 and survived later two reconstructions. At present it is an impressive industrial monument of the 18th century. Unfortunately, very few buildings of the old factory area have been preserved. Now only a few buildings remained: the Museum of History of Architecture of the Urals, and the Nature Museum, both are located in the so-called Historical Public Garden. Situated here is also the oldest building of Ekaterinburg which dated from 1764 and that was recently reconstructed. At present this is the Fine Arts Museum. Ekaterinburg of the 18th century was a town made of wood. However, the first stone buildings also appeared here during this period. At most these were administrative buildings, for example the Main Board of the mining factories, where the Urals Conservatoire is located now.
In the late 18th and the early 19th centuries a new architectural style (classicism) influenced Ekaterinburg landscapes. The palace on Voznesenskaya Hill, with its luxurious park, is the most famous example of this style. Many churches and chapels made the city's panorama very beautiful and picturesque. In the beginning of the 20th century there were about 50 churches, and of this number only 6 still remain today. There are quite a few buildings in the constructivist style in the city. Typical of this style are such examples as the Main Post Office, the "Uralski Rabochi" printing house, the film studio, the famous White Tower, the "Dynamo" stadium, etc.
The Soviet Period brought new trends to Ekaterinburg's architecture: luxury and rationalism, which reflected the influence of both ideology and asceticism. New tendencies in the development of world architecture have also affected the city. Some of the most well known of these structures include the Military Headquarters, the Urals State Technical University (UPI), the Railway Administrative Building, and the Philharmonic Society.
The dynamics of contemporary life does have its effect on the city. However, good care of its cultural heritage helps to maintain the historical continuity of times and confirms the right of Ekaterinburg to the status of a historical city.
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