Day 23 7th March 2017 Yekateringberg
Luba picked us up at the hotel. Luba Suslyakova was the perfect guide for us for Yekaterinburg. The assassination of the Romanovs and four of their servants by the Bolsheviks is a great historical drama and Luba made it come alive.
After the Tsar had abdicated in early 1917 he had been exiled to Siberia. The family was brought back to Yekaterinburg and held in the Ipatiev (the owner) house renamed “The House of Special Purpose” by the Bolsheviks. On the night of 17th July 1918 they were ordered to dress and were taken to the cellar. One reason given was to have their photograph taken to show the outside world they were alive and well (ironic). A hit squad of eleven (one for each of the victims) led by a long time Bolshevik Yakov Yurovsky went down and sprayed with the cellar with gunshots. Apparently it took longer than anticipated as the children’s clothing had diamonds in it and the bullets ricocheted all over the place, as well smoke making it difficult to see.
Yeltsin ordered the house demolished in 1977 the have been several reasons given as to why.
In 2003 The Church on the Blood was built to commemorate the Romanovs after the Russian Orthodox Church made them saints. Each of them has an icon which are on display in the lower part of the Church attached to which is a historical centre.
Whilst we were there people came and prayed and genuflected to the icons. It seemed odd that the people who can be credited with giving the Bolsheviks the political cause allowed communism to flourish, to is accommodated by the government today.
We then walked through the literary district filled with original homes restored and now housing museums of the different Russian writers, poets etc. A large statue of thoughtful Pushkin, credited with being an original writer in Russian rather than French, the latter used by many Russian intellectuals at that time. Pushkin is also credited with the Russian language as it is today. Taking the much harsher old Russian language and developing a softer simpler language that remains today.
Strolled past a stature of Alexander Popov credited with being the original developer of wireless as a method of communication. It appears to be the Russian view that Marconi is unfairly credited. Apparently each year the Institute of Wireless Technicians and students march in support of Popov – with the students who fail their exams having to clean his statue.
Then across the still frozen river using the dam wall and past city hall. Apparently Khrushchev berated the city administrators for spending money on statues of aristocrats (apparently they were meant to be the idealised images of workers) and a gold star when it could have been spent on a school. The locals don’t seem to have taken that on board as they have now created a skyscraper dedicated to Boris Yeltsin.
That is where we now headed after passing yet another statue of Lenin. We had a wonderful lunch at the 1991 Restaurant.1991 being the year that Boris became Russia’s first President.
Excited as we began the drive to Ganina Yama (Ganin’s Pit). This is where the Bolshevik hit squad tried to get rid of the bodies of the Romanov family-they had a few goes at it and the remains were only discovered in the early nineties and verified by DNA testing. In fact apparently Prince Phillip donated DNA to verify Alexander’s remains.
A church had been built for each Romanov on this site and they are maintained by monks who live at the monastery. The original mineshaft has been retained and is a place of veneration for pilgrims.
We both decided that Ekaterinburg was our favourite city so far with its broad boulevards, its literature quarter, lots of young people and big broad river. Beautiful in winter we imagined that summer would be gorgeous as well.