Ural Mountains are the traditional dividing line between Europe and Asia and have been a crossroads of Russian history. Stretching from Kazakhstan to the fringes of the Arctic Kara Sea, the Urals lie almost exactly along the 60 degree meridian of longitude and extend for about 2,000 kilometers (1,300 miles) from north to south and varies in width from about 50 kilometers (30 miles) in the north and 160 kilometers (100 miles) the south. At kilometers 1777 on the Trans-Siberian Railway there is white obelisk with "Europe" carved in Russian on one side and "Asia" carved on the other.

The eastern side of the Urals contains a lot of granite and igneous rock. The western side is primarily sandstone and limestones. A number of precious stones can be found in the southern part of the Urals, including emeralds. malachite, tourmaline, jasper and aquamarines. The highest peaks are in the north. Mount Narodnaya is the highest of all but is only 1884 meters (6,184 feet) high. The northern Urals are covered in thick forests and home to relatively few people.

Like the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States, the Urals are very old mountains — with rocks and sediments that are hundreds of millions years old — that were one much taller than they are now and have been steadily eroded down over millions of years by weather and other natural processes to their current size. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: “The rock composition helps shape the topography: the high ranges and low, broad-topped ridges consist of quartzites, schists, and gabbro, all weather-resistant. Buttes are frequent, and there are north–south troughs of limestone, nearly all containing river valleys. Karst topography is highly developed on the western slopes of the Urals, with many caves, basins, and underground streams. The eastern slopes, on the other hand, have fewer karst formations; instead, rocky outliers rise above the flattened surfaces. Broad foothills, reduced to peneplain, adjoin the Central and Southern Urals on the east.

“The Urals date from the structural upheavals of the Hercynian orogeny (about 250 million years ago). About 280 million years ago there arose a high mountainous region, which was eroded to a peneplain. Alpine folding resulted in new mountains, the most marked upheaval being that of the Nether-Polar Urals...The western slope of the Urals is composed of middle Paleozoic sedimentary rocks (sandstones and limestones) that are about 350 million years old. In many places it descends in terraces to the Cis-Ural depression (west of the Urals), to which much of the eroded matter was carried during the late Paleozoic (about 300 million years ago). Found there are widespread karst (a starkly eroded limestone region) and gypsum, with large caverns and subterranean streams. On the eastern slope, volcanic layers alternate with sedimentary strata, all dating from middle Paleozoic times.”

Southern Urals

The southern Urals are characterized by grassy slopes and fertile valleys. The middle Urals are a rolling platform that barely rises above 300 meters (1,000 feet). This region is rich in minerals and has been heavily industrialized. This is where you can find Yekaterinburg (formally Sverdlovsk), the largest city in the Urals.

Most of the Southern Urals are is covered with forests, with 50 percent of that pine-woods, 44 percent birch woods, and the rest are deciduous aspen and alder forests. In the north, typical taiga forests are the norm. There are patches of herbal-poaceous steppes, northem sphagnous marshes and bushy steppes, light birch forests and shady riparian forests, tall-grass mountainous meadows, lowland ling marshes and stony placers with lichen stains. In some places there are no large areas of homogeneous forests, rather they are forests with numerous glades and meadows of different size.

In the Ilmensky Mountains Reserve in the Southern Urals, scientists counted 927 vascular plants (50 relicts, 23 endemic species), about 140 moss species, 483 algae species and 566 mushroom species. Among the species included into the Red Book of Russia are feather grass, downy-leaved feather grass, Zalessky feather grass, moccasin flower, ladies'-slipper, neottianthe cucullata, Baltic orchis, fen orchis, helmeted orchis, dark-winged orchis, Gelma sandwart, Krasheninnikov sandwart, Clare astragalus.

The fauna of the vertebrate animals in the Reserve includes 19 fish, 5 amphibian and 5 reptile. Among the 48 mammal species are elks, roe deer, boars, foxes, wolves, lynxes, badgers, common weasels, least weasels, forest ferrets, Siberian striped weasel, common marten, American mink. Squirrels, beavers, muskrats, hares, dibblers, moles, hedgehogs, voles are quite common, as well as chiropterans: pond bat, water bat, Brandt's bat, whiskered bat, northern bat, long-eared bat, parti-coloured bat, Nathusius' pipistrelle. The 174 bird bird species include white-tailed eagles, honey hawks, boreal owls, gnome owls, hawk owls, tawny owls, common scoters, cuckoos, wookcocks, common grouses, wood grouses, hazel grouses, common partridges, shrikes, goldenmountain thrushes, black- throated loons and others.

Traveling Through the Urals

Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “For days we motored eastward toward the Urals. Though the road went on and on, it never settled down and became what I would consider a standard long-distance highway. You never knew what it would do next. Sometimes it was no-frills two-lane blacktop for hours. Then without any announcement it would change to gravel, degenerating into mud and enormous potholes, and I learned the word yama, meaning “hole.” Arriving in a village, the road might lead straight into an Olympic-size mud puddle or lose itself among streets apparently based on cattle paths. Many stops to ask directions would be required before we could pick up its thread again. [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 3, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010)]

“On long, desolate sections with no villages nearby, people sat along the road selling things, or not. You might see a very fat and not-young woman in a bright-yellow dress sitting on a folding chair and reading a newspaper, with nothing visible to sell; then, a kilometer later, a group of little boys with several buckets and a sign that said “Raki.” I knew that rak meant “cancer,” but Sergei said it was also the word for crayfish, which the boys catch in nearby creeks and swamps. Day after day, men and women waited beside cardboard boxes filled with newspaper cones of mushrooms, gooseberries, strawberries, fiddlehead ferns, and cedar nuts. The term for these forest products is podnozhnii korm, Sergei told me; it means, literally, “feed found underfoot.” Regularly, we passed women standing all alone and giving each passing vehicle a sideways, hangdog stare. When they realized the driver wasn’t stopping, they would turn away with their eyes cast down. They reminded me of fallen women from an old novel; I had never seen prostitutes acting ashamed before.

“Whenever we stopped to refuel, the stations were as minimal as could be. A couple of fuel pumps on a gravel apron and a sheet-metal kiosk with a glass or plastic pay window so thick and opaque you could hardly make out the attendant inside composed the total of their amenities. No advertising banners, vending machines, drinking fountains, or rest rooms cluttered up this just-the-facts approach. Of course, no bucket or squeegee was available should your window need to be cleaned. We had entered a buggy part of the journey, and our windshield was usually covered with splattered insects. No problem: Volodya took some water from our supply, gave the windshield a few splashes, crushed an unfiltered cigarette in his fingers, and using the tobacco as a solvent washed the bugs from the glass with big sweeps of his hand. Sergei, meanwhile, removed the wiper mount from the windshield-wiper arm and with the blade of the wiper squeegeed the windshield dry and clean.

“One day—a Saturday—we drove through five weddings in the course of the afternoon. I couldn’t tell whether the bridal couples had actually been married on the highway or were just having their receptions there. In either case, a lot of participants and guests had showed up, their numbers perhaps swelled by curious passersby. The celebrants stood on the pavement and along the roadside, clutching champagne bottles by the neck, photographing one another, and shouting remarks. Late in the day, we came upon the biggest and most sociable wedding yet. The bride and groom themselves were square in the middle of the road with the wedding party milling around them and backing up traffic in both directions. A young woman in a fancy dress came to the passenger-side window of our van and, talking fast, said we must give money to the newlyweds. Volodya handed her a few kopeks, and she said with indignation that that was not nearly enough. He asked how much and she said, “Ten rubles, at least.” He found a ten-ruble bill and gave it to her. She then handed in a tray of little plastic cups of vodka, which Volodya declined, saying we were drivers on our way to the Far East.

“Cities came and went—Kirov, some seven hundred miles from St. Petersburg, and then Perm. Both were big, gray, and industrial. For a while, the scenery had been getting hillier. Sometimes the road ran on ridge tops above pine forests, and beyond Perm the land reminded me of the Rocky Mountain foothills along Interstate 90 near Bozeman, Montana. Just when I was expecting the sight of the mighty Urals themselves rising above their hilly prologue, we were on flat ground again. The Ural Mountains had been crossed. If there had been a moment when we crested the continent-dividing range’s summit, somehow it had slipped by me. Then almost immediately we were coming up on Yekaterinburg, considered the westernmost Siberian city; here the road did one of its quick-change acts to become a crowded and roaring multilane highway with furniture-store billboards alongside, and broken-down vehicles, and extra-large heaps of trash, and stooped figures poking through the heaps with old umbrella handles.

Gem-Bearing Mountains of the Southern Urals

The gem-bearing Ilmensky Mountains of the Southern Urals was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Ilmensky mountains are located in the Southern Urals in Chelyabiskaya oblast in Miass city in Chebarkulsky and Argayashsky districts. The nearest railway track is in Miass, and the nearest international airport is 100 kilometers to the East, in Chelyabinsk.

The Ilmensky mountains are a unique geological phenomenon famous for its semiprecious and rare-metal mineralisation of the pegmatite lodes and alkaline rocks known as nepheline syenites. Different metamorphic and plutonic rocks — modified by deformational and metasomatic processes — are host to them. The diversity of Ilmensky mountain rocks are known as the "Ilmenogorsky complex". [Source: Lenin Illmensky State Reserve, Urals branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, 2008]

The Pegmatites of the Ilmenogorsky complex are specific geological formations, which are coarse-grained or giant-grained rocks forming separate geological bodies. These bodies have specific shape, internal structure and mineral composition. As a rule they have contrasting borders with more fine-grained host rocks and can be clearly identified. Pegmatites present the greatest interest in the study of the Ilmenogorsky complex, since they contain the most interesting minerals and associations as well as the biggest and perfect mineral crystals. According the main rock-forming minerals, there are three main pegmatite types: granitic, miaskitic and syenitic. Granitic pegmatites contain the primary rock-forming quartz; the miaskitic pegmatites contain nepheline; the syenitic pegmatites do not contain neither quartz, nor nepheline, feldspar being the main mineral. The detailed studies of the pegmatites held in the 20th century helped to systematise them into the group of separate age groups and define their peculiarities of structure and mineral composition.

In certain lodes or their segments they are abundant and occasionally mineable (for example, molybdenite): magnetite, pyrochlore, aeschynite, zircon, allanite, titanite, apatite, molybdenite, ferrimolybdite, powellite, less frequently monazite and sarnarskite. Miaskitic pegmatites (nepheline is the dominating mineral) are linked to the maximal stage of the alkaline process. They have bodies of various and often very complex form. They are peculiar for the cavities containing accessory minerals in the form of big and perfect crystals. They used to be produced originally for commercial purposes (collections and faceting) and later on for scientific studies. The main are cancrinite, sodalite, wischnewite, ilmenite and magnetite, zircon, pyrochlore, aeschynite, columbite, apatite and others. Corundum- feldspathic pegmatites (syenitic, always contain corundum), are linked to the late phases of the alkaline process.

Amazonite Pegmatites. This is the best-known type of pegmatites and one of the first to be produced and studied in the Ilmensky mountains. It was the main commercial attraction of these mountains in the 19th century: precious topaz, beryl (including aquamarine) and phenacite (for faceting) were produced here, as well as amazonite - beautiful perfect green microcline crystals - for collections. Amazonite pegmatites have simple plate-like bodies, but the inner structure of many is rather complex, with big cavities and perfect crystals inside. The mineral composition of this group of pegmatites is very diverse: in total there are more than 60 minerals. The most usual (besides rock-forming minerals) are topaz, beryl, phenacite, tourmaline, columbite, monazite and others. Alumo-fluorides are quite rare (cryolithionite, pachnolite, ralstonite, prosopite, cryolite, chiolite, gearksutite, thomsenolite), astrophyllite kupletskite and others.

Rock associations of the Ilmenogorsky complex are numerous and feature up to 70 types of plutonic and metamorphic rocks. Alkoline rocks of the Ilmenogorsky complex are among the most recurrent. They possess a diverse mineral composition, forming numerous varieties. The forms of the geological bodies that they compose and the peculiarities of their relationships with the host rocks are also diverse. At present there are 277 mineral species (more than 360 including varieties) on the territory of the Reserve. Compare: 1109 mineral species are registered on the whole territory of the Urals, 120 of them were described in the Ilmensky mountains for the first time in the Urals. Besides 18 species, new for the global mineral taxonomy were discovered in the Ilmensky mountains: ilmenite (1827), aeschynite (1828), monazite (1829), cancrinite (1839), chevkinite (1840), chiolite (1846), samarskite (1847), ilmenorutile (1856), fergusonite-beta-(Ce) (1965), ushkovite (1983), svyazhinite (1984), makarochkinite (1986), fluororichterite (1993), fluor magnesiumarfedsonite (1998), potassic-sadanagaite (1999), polyakovite (2000), potassic- magnesiohastingsite (2005), ferriwinchite (2005).

The minerals of the basic systematic groups are widely represented in the Ilmenogorsky complex: feldspars, amphiboles, pyroxenes, mica, as well as minerals of rare, rare-earth and radioactive elements. In particular, it has been found out as a result of special research that the group of amphiboles which counts around 110 species in the world sistematics, is represented by 38 in the Ilmenogorsky complex (almost one third of all known amphiboles).


Bashkortostan is an ethnic republic in the southern Urals that is rich in oil. Bashkirs make up about 30 percent of the 4.1 million people that live in this republic in a green, hilly region at the southern tip of the Ural mountains. The streets signs are in Bashkir and Russian. Large numbers of Russians and Tatars also live in the area.

The Republic of Bashkortostan is located on the border of Europe and Asia, where dense coniferous and mixed forests and mountains are replaced by forest-steppe and steppe. The republic covers 143,600 square kilometers (55,400 square miles), and has a population density of 28 people per square kilometer. About 60 percent of the population live in urban areas. Ufa is the capital and largest city, with about 1.1 million people.

Bashkortostan is the name assumed in 1992 by the former Bashkir ASSR, which also had been called Bashkiria. The republic in the far southeastern corner of European Russia, bounded on the east by the Ural Mountains and within seventy kilometers of the Kazakstan border at its southernmost point. The republic has rich mineral resources, especially oil, natural gas, iron ore, manganese, copper, salt, and construction stone. The Soviet government built a variety of heavy industries on that resource base, and the republic's economy is relatively prosperous. The traditional Bashkir occupations of livestock raising and beekeeping remain important economic activities. [Source: Library of Congress]

According to the 2010 census, The major ethnic groups are Russians (36 percent) Bashkirs (29.5 percent),, Tatars (25.4percent), Chuvash (2.7 percent), and Mari (2.6 percent). In 1989 the major ethnic groups were Russians (39 percent), Tatars (28 percent), Bashkirs (22 percent), Chuvash (3 percent), and Mari (3 percent).

History of Bashkortostan

The Bashkortostan region was settled by nomads of the steppe, the Turkic Bashkirs, during the thirteenth-century domination by the Golden Horde. Russians arrived in the mid-sixteenth century, founding the city of Ufa, now the republic's capital. Numerous local uprisings broke out in opposition to the settlement of larger Russian populations in the centuries that followed. [Source:

The Belaya River Waterway (1870) and the Samara-Zlatoust Railroad (1890) connected Ufa to the European part of the Russian Empire and stimulated development of the city's light industry. As a result, by 1913 the population of Ufa grew to 100,000. A major battleground of the Russian Civil War (1918-21), in 1919 Bashkiria was the first ethnic region to be designated an autonomous republic of Russia under the new communist regime.

During World War II, following eastward Soviet retreat in 1941, the Abwehr operated in Ufa, 1941-1943, some German infiltration, occurred 1914-1943 in espionage, a number of industrial enterprises of the western parts of the Soviet Union were evacuated to Ufa. The republic declared its sovereignty within the Soviet Union in 1990, and in 1992 it declared full independence. Two years later, Bashkortostan agreed to remain within the legislative framework of the Russian Federation, provided that mutual areas of competence were agreed upon.

Tourism in Bashkortostan

Bashkortostan has endless steppe, soft Aksakov Ural landscapes, the water kingdom of the lower reaches of the Agidel River and the gentle songs of the Quray – the national Bashkir musical instrument. This is the only place in Russia where the wild-hive beekeeping tradition is still practiced. Tourists are attracted by the majestic Ural Mountains, crystal clear rivers and lakes praised in ancient Bashkir epics, as well as mountain skiing resorts. The climate is temperate: the average temperature in the winter is –18 to – 20° С; in the summer 18 to 25° С. Websites: Tourist portal of the Republic of Bashkortostan:

In the summer, tourists rafting along rivers, go horseback riding and hiking, explore caves, climb mountain peaks and sunbathe on the banks of beautiful lakes. In the winter, ski resorts become the main centers of attraction. Resorts and motels with mineral and hydrogen sulfide springs are open all year round. Also, several years ago, religious and ethnographic tours began to be developed. Over 150 routes have been formed in the republic. The cost of living excluding transportation and accommodation is as little as 500 rubles per day.

Getting There: Ufa is the only Russian city connected to Moscow by more than one federal highway. The M7 motorway links the city to Kazan and Moscow and the M5 motorway links Ufa to Moscow and to the Asian part of Russia. By Plane: There is an international airport in Ufa. The Ufa International Airport has international flights to Turkey, Tajikistan, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Cyprus as well as domestic flights to many Russian cities and towns, including Moscow. The flight from Moscow takes two hours. Round trip tickets start 12,000 rubles. From St. Petersburg the flights takes three hours and costs start at 15,000 rubles for a round-trip ticket. By Train: Ufa is located on a historic branch line of the Trans-Siberian Railway. You can get to Ufa by train from anywhere in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The journey from Moscow takes 22 hours. A one way ticket costs 2500 rubles per adult. A direct train from St. Petersburg takes two days; a reserved seat costs from 2800 rubles. By Car: From Moscow to Ufa is 1351 kilometers. On average, the trip takes 17–20 hours and requires 5500 rubles for gasoline. The route roughly follows along along the Volga on the E22 and M7 highways.

Regional Transport: The most common forms of of public transport are bus and taxis. Prices in the main areas by bus: Ufa-Sterlitamak: from 280 rubles; Ufa-Beloretsk: from 400 rubles; Ufa-Uchaly: from 800 rubles. On suburban trains and trains: Ufa-Beloretsk: from 450 rubles; Ufa-Inzer: from 370 rubles; Ufa-Kropachev about: from 280 rubles. From November 30 there is seasonal train called “Legend of the Urals” that goes from Ufa to Novoabzakovo and allows you to get to popular tourist places like Assy, Aigir, Beloretsk and Novoabzakovo.

Accommodation: There are a lot of hotels of all levels. Ufa has the best selection. There you can find the Crowne Plaza Ufa (from 5000 rub. Per night), the Hilton Garden, the Ufa Riverside Inn (from 2800 rubles), Hotel Bashkortostan, “gidel” (from 3000 rubles). You can stay in small private hotels and apartments (average price 1000-1600 rubles). Elsewhere in Bashkortostan camping is possible is many places, as long as you are not bothering someone. Accommodation in sanatoriums, guest houses and hotel rooms is also possible. Many local residents offer homestays.


The Bashkirs are a mostly Turkic people that are nominally Muslims. There are about 1.5 million Bashkirs and they live mostly around the Volga region in Bashkortostan republic. The origin of the Bashkirs is still a matter of debate. They have both Asian and European features. Some historians believe they are of Turkish descent. Others consider them of Finno-Ugric descent. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia, China, edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K. Hall & Company, Boston)]

The Bashkirs were first described in A.D. 922. At that time they were a steppe horse people that lived at the junction of the Volga and Kama Rivers and were in the process of converting to Islam. Their territory was divided up by the Golden Horde (the Mongols). After the Mongols were driven out they fiercely resisted the Russians for almost two centuries and didn’t come under Russian rule until the 18th century.

The Bashkirs gave up the nomadic life in the nineteenth century, adopting the agricultural lifestyle that remains their primary means of support. The traditional clan-based social structure has largely disappeared. Some practice Russian Orthodox Christianity. Some speak Bashkir, a Turkic language, at home.

The Bashkirs live mostly in villages or communities with other Bashkirs that are scattered among villages or communities made up of other ethnic groups. Bashkirs are mostly Sunni Muslims. They have traditionally not had any problems getting along with their Christian neighbors. They were nearly swallowed dup into the Soviet system. Many lived and worked on collective farms. After the collapse of the Soviet Union many have had difficulty dealing with the changes and today live in poverty.

Bashkir Urals

Bashkir Ural was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The natural and cultural complex "Bashkir Ural" is located on the western macroslope of the Southern Urals within the limits of the mountain forest zone of Bashkortostan. "Bashkir Ural" occupies the territory of approximately 45,000 hectares (450 square kilometers). The main part of the complex "Bashkir Ural" is slightly affected by the man-induced changes (the standard residential population density makes up 2,3 people per square meter) and consists of a specifically protected state wilderness area "Shulgan-Tash" and a part of a state entomological wildlife reserve "Altyn Solok". [Source: Secretariat of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO]

“The eastern part of the complex "Bashkir Ural" is located at the junction of two massive wood biomes of European-type broadleaved forests and light-coniferous and Siberia-type parvifoliate hemiboreal forests with grass layer. About 90 percent of the complex territory is covered with woods. The land area of "Bashkir Ural" comprises a high diversity of wild landscapes: mountain rivers gorges, plateau-like summated szyrts, steep-sloped ranges, bottom-lands and water storage basins. Low anthropogenic effect, variety of land forms within the complex territory and the convergence of European and Siberian floristic and faunal assemblages made conditions for a particularly high biodiversity of the complex. All of the above mentioned points have, in its turn, been making the given area attractive for a man to live since ancient times and defined the natural management culture and traditions.

“Since ancient times to the present days within the area of "Bashkir Ural" there have existed the settlements of indigenous inhabitants, guarding and carrying on the archaic traditions, customs and rites of the Bashkir people, their culture stemming from the semi-nomadic lifestyle. Their legends, mythological epic cyclus, archaic rites are full of cosmogonic mythology with the Shulgan-Tash cave cult being its core. This cult, surviving from the Stone Age up to the present, has reflected in many ancient eposes of the Southern Urals (eposes: "Ural-Batyr", "Akbuzat", "Kara-Yurga", "Akhak Kola" and others). The wildlife preserve "Altyn Solok" (which means a "Golden Bee-tree") comprises objects of historical and ethnographic value, being the domain of the Bashkir national culture: "Masim" ridge, "Babsak-biya" burial mound, "Yilkysykkan" lake; 5 sites, explicitly referred to in the Bashkir epos are also found here.

“Age-old traditions of national harvesting are sparingly preserved within the territory of the complex; among other factors, wild-hive beekeeping is being revived. Forest bee-keeping is an ancient and globally unique way of national harvesting of the Bashkir people. This craft concerns bringing the honey-bee clusters in to the artificially made and fitted caverns. Major efforts in genetic conservation of the Burzyan wild hive bee are under way.”


Ufa (350 miles east of Kazan) is a city with about 1 million people. Founded in 1574, it is the capital of Bashkortostan Republic, the traditional base of the Turkic Bashkir people, and the industrial, economic, scientific and cultural center of the republic. It is eleventh most populous city in Russia and was named by Forbes magazine as the best place to do business in Russia. There isn't much though to see to other than some old Bashkir houses and a Lenin Museum in a house that Lenin briefly stayed in.

Ufa is technically situated in Europe just a stone throw from Asia, at the confluence of the Belaya (Agidel) and Ufa Rivers on low hills forming the Ufa Plateau to the west of the southern Urals. Early history of Ufa area dates back to Paleolithic times. From the 5th to the 16th century there was a medieval town on the site of Ufa that appeared on the Pizzigano brothers' map (1367) and on the Catalan Atlas (1375). Ibn Khaldun referred to the town there as Bashkort and said it was among the largest cities of the Golden Horde.

Russian historians and officials in the 18th century wrote that there was a great city on the territory of Ufa before the arrival of the Russians and that Ufa was founded by the Bashkirs. Ivan the Terrible ordered a fortress was built on the site of modern Ufa in 1574 that originally bore the name of the hill it stood on, Tura-Tau. 1574 is now considered to be the official date of Ufa's foundation. Town status was granted to it in 1586.

Public transportation in Ufa includes trams, trolleybuses, buses, marshrutka (routed minibuses) and taxis. The Ufa Metro is a yet unrealized subway system that has been in the planning stages since the late 1980, and whose construction was launched in 1996 in a ceremony attended by then-President Boris Yeltsin

Places of interest in Ufa: The oldest surviving building in Ufa is a one-storey house located at October Revolution Street, 57/1. It belonged to Demidov, a famous owner of mines and metallurgical plants. The central office of the financial corporation “Uralsib” (Revolyutsionnaya Street, 41) is the tallest building in Ufa (100.5 meters). The first large mosque in the city was constructed at Tukai Street in 1830. [Source:]

Ufa museums: Bashkir State Art Museum (Gogolya Street, 27); House-Museum of Vladimir Lenin (Dostoyevskogo Street, 78); Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography (Karla Marksa Street, 6); Museum of Geology and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Bashkortostan (Lenina Street, 47); National Museum of the Republic of Bashkortostan (Sovetskaya Street, 14);
Ufa theaters and other cultural institutions: Bashkir State Opera and Ballet Theater (Lenina Street, 5a); Mazhit Gafuri Bashkir Academic Drama Theater (Zaki Validi Street, 34); Russian Academic Drama Theater of Bashkortostan (Oktyabrya Avenue, 79); Ufa State Tatar Theater “Nur” (50 let U.S.S.R. Street, 36); Bashkir State Puppet Theater (Oktyabrya Avenue, 158); Alternative Theater “Perspective” (50 let Oktyabrya Street, 19); Bashkir State Philharmonic Society(Gogolya Street, 58)

Near Ufa

Around Ufa there are some wild forests and interesting caves with stalactite formations and Paleolithic drawings of mammoths and wooly rhinoceroses. In the outskirts of the city there is a system of 20 natural caves formed as a result of mining of gypsum.

South Ural State Nature Reserve (150 kilometers east, southeast of Ufa) was established in 1979 to preserve the unique natural ecosystems of the mountain-taiga spruce-fir forests, alpine plant communities and marshes of the Southern Urals. The reserve is located in the Republic of Bashkortostan and Chelyabinsk region. Over 90 percent of the reserve is located within the area of Beloretsk Bashkortostan. The total area of the reserve 2528 square kilometers. It is the largest

South Ural State Nature Reserve is the largest nature reserve area, not only in Bashkortostan, but the entire Southern Urals. The reserve is located in a central and highest portion of the Southern Ural mountains and includes the following ranges and mountains: Mashakah (1383 meters), Zigalga (1425 meters), Nara (1340 meters), Kumardak (1354 meters) and the Massif Yamantau (1640 meters), the highest mountain in the Southern Urals. Reserve management and the central manor house is located in the village of Roaring in the Beloretsk region of Bashkortostan.

Mount Iremel (200 kilometers east of Ufa) is the second highest mountain of the Southern Urals, at 1,582 meters high. It is a ridge with two peaks: Greater Iremel, the highest one, and Lesser Iremel, slightly lower, It is quite easy to climb this mountain. There are many hiking trails. Just be prepared for bad weather. The weather is quite unpredictable on Iremel. “Iremel” in Bashkir means “giving power”. The Bashkir people believe that the mountain is sacred. The Iremel Natural Park was established in 2010. It includes not only the mountain but also the surrounding area — almost 50,000 hectares. Three control and information points operate to supervise access to the park — Tyulyuk in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Nikolayevka in the Beloretskiy District, and Novokhusainovo in the Uchalinskiy District. All visitors of the park must register at one of them.

Bashkortostan Mines

Sibai Bat (400 kilometers south of Ufa) is one of the deepest mines in the world. It is 500 meters deep and two kilometers in diameter of the quarry. Even standing on edge, you can not see the bottom of huge, spiralling funnel. The Mednotsinkovokolchedannoe field here was discovered in 1913 and contains extremely rich deposits of copper-zinc and copper-pyrite. The city of Sibai was built around it. On the edge of the mine is an observation deck. Near the tower are massive hill-like huge piles of waste rock. At the edge of the mine is the Bashkir copper and sulfur plant, which was founded not long after the mine.

Jubilee Mine produces ores with copper, zinc, sulfur, gold and silver and to a lesser extent cadmium, selenium, tellurium, germanium, indium, thallium, gallium. The mine was opened in 1967 to mine six copper-pyrite deposits. "Jubilee" includes 6 ore deposits. The development of the Jubilee field is carried out since 1996. Mining operations are repeatedly stopped for various reasons. They Again resumed mining operations in September 2000.

An excavation and conveyor system is used at open pit "Jubilee" mine after blasting preparation are done. The stockpiled rocks are placed in external piles of rock and clay rocks. The pit is over 205 meters deep. The main mining operations are carried out in the west of the mine. The northeaster part of the property is used for the preparation and production of copper-pyrite ore. At total of 11,880,000 cubic meters of overburden rock was mined in 2011 and from this 1,400 tons and copper and copper-zinc was extracted.


The Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve (250 kilometers south of Ufa) is known for its pristine nature, beekeeping and famous Kapova Cave, where rock paintings of the Paleolithic era were discovered. The reserve welcomes visitors year-round, but the mainstream falls on the summer months, and the infrastructure is designed more for this time of year. Visitors here are invited to take part in collecting on-board (wild) honey or arrange relaxation on beehives (from 250 rubles per hour). An excursion to the cave costs from 280 rubles per person.

Kapova Cave is located on the right bank of the Agidel (Belaya) River, 40 kilome-ters from the center of Burzyansky district of Bashkortostan, Starosubhangulovo village, on the territory of the Reserve, organized fifty years ago in order to preserve the pristine beauty of this marvelous region.

Accommodation and Food: The central estate is located in the village of Irgizly. In the summer, accommodation is possible on equipped tourist camps (200-300 rubles per day per person, a bath costs extra and has to be arranged). Guest houses and bungalows cost anywhere from 400 to 3000 rubles depending on their level of comfort. In Tugay village there is a cafe with Bashkir cuisine made from local products. Lunch costs 300-400 rubles. There is also a small restaurant (from with meals starting at 400 rubles) and shops.

Kapova Cave at Shulgan-Tash

Rock Painting of Shulgan-Tash Cave was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2018. The significance of Kapova Cave became known in 1959 when zoologist Alexander Ryumin went deep into the cave searching for bats and found colorful rock paintings on the walls of horses, rhinos and mammoths with their calves. Today the cave with the original paintings is off limits to tourists but tourists can visit a halls with exact copies. Kapova Cave can be explored as part of a paid tour. Tourists are allowed only into the first halls, including the area after the temperature threshold; thereafter the temperature never changes throughout the year.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The famous cave Shulgan-Tash (Kapova) belongs to the unique phenomena - it is one of the largest coves in the Southern Urals with more than 150 Paleolithic cave drawings of global importance having been discovered (drawings of mammoths, horses, rhinoceroses, bulls and abstract characters in red ochre). The radiochemical analysis testifies that Shulgan-Tash drawings are not less than 13,000-14,000s years old. Such old cave art is normally associated with only with France and Spain. Discovery of the Paleolithic art in the Southern Urals within the distance of 4,000 kilometers from Pyrenees gives evidence to the existence of the Ural center of the Paleolithic culture (the second after the Southwestern Europe). [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO]

“A dwelling site of Paleolithic people with plenty of bonfires, charcoal and different objects have been found in the vegetable soils of Shulgan-Tash cave during the recent years. As much as 193 objects were found, with the tools made of the local cryptalline limestone, calci-spar and green and brown jasper prevailing. Green serpentinite ornamentals, discovered in the soil, are purely unique. There are also pendants made of bones or, possibly, mammoth tusks. Discovery of a clay lamp fragment was unique, since earthenware is very rarely found in the cultural Paleolithic soils.

The wall drawings — mostly of animals but with some complicated abstract signs — are painted with red ochre in the halls of two floors of the cave. Some of the drawings have been damaged by graffiti. Ryumin discovered about 50 drawings. Other were found later in other places of by removing materials from the cave walls. In the Hall of Chaos on the scarp of the southern wall initially only a bright red dot from which water kept washing out the ochre could be seen. Testorers removed a thick layer — up to four centimeters thick — of calcite sinters, revealing a bright, polychromatic composition of horses.

The composition of the eastern wall of the Hall of Drawings contains an the image Pale Mammoth is beneath the Dissident Mammoth. The Pale Mammoth is practically invisible. One can see only pale pink spots in this place. Above the hind part of Central Mammoth on the western wall of the Hall there is a barely distinguishable small running anthropomorphic figure. The Hall of Signs contains a triangular marking whose completer structure was assembled with the help of computer.

At at a depth of about half a meter in the cave coals in the pit were discovered along with decorations chips and bone carvings. It turned out this was an occupation layer dated to the Paleolithic Age. This was significant, because before that it was believed that people did not live in Kapova cave. Not is believed that the cave was a sanctuary, maybe a temple. In the occupation a broken piece of limestone was uncovered with a drawing painted in ochre. This allowed scientists to confidently say that both the occupation layer and the wall drawings were approximately of the same age. With the help of radiocarbon dating the age of the occupation layer was defined as Late Paleolithic and the Madeleine culture, the end of the Ice Age.

Images in Kapova Cave at Shulgan-Tash

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Artificial images are conventionally referred to as ancient (Paleolithic), a later period (Eneolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age), “old” (medieval) and modern (18-21th cc.). First of all the images should be grouped according to their morphology and contents. The most important types are zoomorphic and anthropomorphic drawings and abstract conventional geometric signs. In addition to them we also have to single out one more complicated type: stains.

“Morphology, stylistic character and colour being taken into consideration, it is possible to make a classification reflecting all the peculiarities of the images. This will enable us to draw conclusions about the conceptions of ancient “artists”, the epoch of image creation and their aim. These groups of drawings will help to do a historical and artistic analysis of “the painting”. [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO]

“Shulgan-Tash cave images may be divided into a number of types which may further be subdivided into smaller groups. The first large type is numerous red zoomorphic drawings, very realistic. Their stylistic peculiarities and configuration are very close to the Western European Madeleine. Most of them are contour drawings. Inside them one can see some zones where the lines of their contours thicken and some parts and details of the figures are shaded. There are several silhouette drawings, actually fully shaded, but the depth of their colour is not homogeneous.

“Most images in the Hall of Drawings belong to the zoomorphic contour type, for example, “Walking Mammoth” on the eastern wall of the Hall of Drawings. A typical silhouette image is “Red Mammoth” of the second composition on the western wall of the Hall of Drawings. All of them are painted in red ochre. So the Cave images are rather heterogeneous. It is one of the Cave's peculiarities that puts forward complicated and difficult tasks of interpreting and fathoming the collected material. Certainly, the Cave images do not match the notion “painting”, for they represent a complex system of conventional ritual symbols and abstract, probably, information signs.

“The best known and well preserved are red realistic contour images on the second floor in the Hall of Drawings. Most of them are mammoths, two woolly rhinoceroses and a bull. Almost all of them are contour drawings; only one “Red Mammoth” is shown in silhouette, fully painted with red ochre. The colour of these images is in fact scarlet, its intensity being average or low. Almost all the images from the Hall of Drawings are zoomorphic, done in one style as if according to a certain canon. Each composition has one anthropomorphic schematic drawing. The only sign in the Hall is a large trapezium with twelve ribs, painted in the right lower corner of the first composition.

“It is, no doubt, an indivisible group, closest to the Western European Madeleine culture. If we use Leroi-Gourhan's classification, it belongs to the transitional group between the third and the fourth ones. The coal from O. N. Bader's pit under the eastern wall of the Hall, according to laboratory analyses, is 17,000-10,000 years old. It is the Late Paleolithic and the Madeleine culture.

“Altogether, 195 images have been fixed in the Cave, 140 of which have been discovered in recent years. The obtained information gives a new characteristic to this unique monument and reveals the existence in Paleolithic of an independent center of ancient culture in the Southern Urals, which is in many aspects analogous to that of Western Europe in the Pyrenean-Cantabrian area. The cave images are inseparable from its spacious halls, long and high galleries and narrow secluded niches. The cave is not just a home for ancient drawings. It is their habitat that greatly influenced the consciousness and creative process of an ancient artist. There are 195 images listed in the Catalogue but in all probability new images will be discovered in future, especially after further clearing of the walls. It is a fresh meaningful confirmation of the thesis that in the Paleolithic the Southern Urals contained an independent, highly developed center of the great early culture of mankind.”

Preservation of the Images Kapova Cave at Shulgan-Tash

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The survival of the drawings is dependent on their conservation. Disappointingly, the drawings in the cave have been affected for millennia by negative factors of anthropogeny and hypergenesis. Many environmental conditions are damaging factors: carst waters (infiltrating and inflowing), pellicular and condensate moisture, microclimatic alterations (temperature and humidity) the overgrowth of calcite sinters, peeling of the paint layer and the corrosion of limestone by microbiota (micromycetas - mould, microfungi and algae). [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO]

“The negative influence exerted by man is also extensive, primarily uncontrolled, unregulated tourism. The presence of large numbers of people in the cave raises the temperature and humidity, increases the concentration of carbon dioxide to a dangerous level and leads to the microbiological pollution of the cave. The cases of barbaric treatment of the images are not so rare.

“In the West after the discovery of the remarkable Paleolithic drawings at Altamira, Lascaux and other caves, access to them was allowed to thousands of people. In a comparatively short span this brought about serious adverse effects: light, warmth and breathing caused intensive growth of microscopic blue-and-green algae, which covered the drawings with ugly stains (“green danger”) and the increase of carbon dioxide concentration resulted in the rapid growth of calcite crystals and sinter crusts which covered the walls of the caves together with the drawings (“white danger”). An increase of humidity and a rise of temperature brought about intensive condensate formation. Red drops began falling from the roof and walls: the moisture was corroding the colourant. Mass tourism in the caves with Paleolithic paintings was banned. Armored gates with intricate locks were installed at the entrance to the caves.

“A temporary way out was found through the creation of duplicates of the caves. Precise copies of the halls with drawings together with their full interiors were made from plastic and other materials.”

Chelyabinsk Oblast

Chelyabinsk Oblast is located on the border of Europe and Asia in the Southern Ural Mountains region adjacent West Siberian Plain. It covers 87,900 square kilometers (33,900 square miles), is home to about 3.5 million people and has a population density of 40 people per square kilometer. About 82 percent of the population live in urban areas. The city of Chelyabinsk is the capital and largest city, with about 1.2 million people.

Chelyabinsk Oblast is known mainly as a mining and industrial center. Locals like to say that Chelyabinsk Oblast is treated kindly by both underground and heavenly gods: a reference to famous Ural semi-precious and the famous meteorite that flamed through the daylight sky in 2013 and crashed and burned into a lake in the region. Some of the meteorite fragments — as well as semi-precious stones — can now be seen in a museum.

The main attractions of the region are mountains, lakes, national parks and reserves. There are also giant factories, ski resorts and an ancient Muslim mausoleum. Winters are cold and long, with an average temperature of –18° С. Summer is warm, hot in the southeast, from + 20°C. In the summer, you can go hiking, mountaineering, boating, fishing, search gem stones, go motor paragliding or play bumperball with giant balls. In the winter, you can see an ice fountain, ride a snowmobile to Devil's Tooth and Dragon Wings rock or visit the city of Kyshtym, which means “a quiet winter hut”.

Getting There by Plane: Chelyabinsk is 2.35 hours from Moscow and 3 hours from St. Petersburg. Tickets from Moscow start at 6816 rubles for a direct round-trip By Train: There are daily trains from Moscow. The trip takes 11 hours. Tickets start at around 5,500 for a one way trip. There are also daily trains from St. Petersburg. Moscow. The trip takes 19 hours. Tickets start at around 5,500 for a one way trip. By Car: The distance from Moscow is 1776 kilometers and takes about 24 hours to drive; from St. Petersburg the distance is 2497 kilometers and takes about 30 hours. Transport in the Region: The main regional forms of transport are electric trains and buses. In Chelyabinsk City, trains depart from the Chelyabinsk-Glavny railway station, and buses leave from the bus stations at central Yunost, Sinegorie shopping center, Regional Hospital and Northern Gate.

Chelyabinsk City

Chelyabinsk City (210 kilometers south of Yekaterinburg) is the capital and largest city of Chelyabinsk Oblast with about 1.2 million people, making it the 9th largest city in Russia. Chelyabinsk is one of Russian’s major industrial centers of Russia, especially metallurgy and military production, and it used to be a closed city. During the Soviet era, it was involved in plutonium production, warhead assembly and dismantlement); It now has high drug addiction and AIDS-HIV rates. A 500-kilogram fragment of the famous meteor that exploded over of Chelyabinsk in 2013 in the Museum of South Ural history. In 2019 glass lid over the meteorite at the museum rose up mysteriously and no one could explain why it happened. The huge fragment had been fished out of a lake several months after it crashed to earth.

Among the major factories in Chelyabinsk are Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Combinate (CMK, ChMK), owned by the mining corporation Mechel; Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (CTZ, ChTZ); Chelyabinsk Electrode Plant (ChEZ); the machine part-producing Chelyabinsk Forge-and-Press Plant (ChKPZ),;the crane-producing Chelyabinsk Mechanical Plant (ChMZ), and Chelyabinsk Tube Rolling Plant (ChTPZ), which is included in the "Big Eight" of pipe producers in Russia, and produces large-diameter pipes for use in pipelines. Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant, owned by the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, produces about two percent of the world's zinc supply and over 60 percent of the Russian supply. Kolyuschenko Road Machinery Plant produces construction machinery and dump trucks for the American manufacturer Terex.

For take a walk along the “Arbat” — Kirovka Street — checking out the old buildings or visit Peace Atom monument. You can listen to music at the Sphere of Love and relax in the beautiful green Aloe Pole park. Local dishes that are worth seeking out are Ural cabbage soup, humpback and jam from the local Uralochka apples. There are several large shopping malls. The largest of them are Gorky (English: Hills), built in 2007 with an area of 55,000 square meters, and Rodnik (English: Spring) built in 2011 with an area 135,000 square meters.

Chelyabinsk Meteor

Early in the morning on February 15, 2013, an extremely bright meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere at over 55,000 kilometers per hour (34,000 mph) over the Ural Mountains and exploded at an altitude of 25–30 kilometers (16–19 miles). The flash produced by the explosion was as bright as the sun and the explosion itself was equal to about 500 kilotons of TNT, or about 20–30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb detonated in Hiroshima.

The event was photographed and videoed by many people in and around Chelyabinsk. The shock wave generated by the explosion injured more than a thousand people but the city and the region avoid serous casualties and destruction due to the high altitude of the explosion. Most of the injuries were from broken glass caused the by shock wave of the explosions. One of the more serious injuries a broken spine suffered one woman. An estimated 200,000 square meters of windows were broken and $33 million of damage was caused..

Fragments of the meteorite fell in and around Chelyabinsk but none hit anyone or damaged any property. There was some confusion over whether it was one meteorite or several. A government official told the Associated Press that there was a meteor shower; however, another ministry spokeswoman was quoted by the Interfax news agency said it was a single meteor. The size of the meteorite if it was a single meteorite was estimated to be 17 meters (56 feet) in diameter with a mass of 10,000 to 11,000 metric tons.

Most of fragments of the meteorite that were retrieved were fell near Chebarkul, a town in the Chelyabinsk region, where the meteorite is believed to have landed. The meteorite is an ordinary chondrite — or stony meteorite which containing about 10 percent of iron In October 2013, the largest-discovered fragment, weighing around 570 kilograms, was lifted from the bed of Lake Chebarkul in 20-meter-deep water. The huge meteorite chunk split into three pieces when scientists tried to weigh it. The precise weight could not be established because the heavy object broke the scales. At that time 12 alleged pieces of meteorite had been raised from the lakebed. Five of them were confirmed as meteorite fragments. [Source:, October 16, 2013]


Magnitogorsk (220 kilometers southwest of Chelyabinsk) is black smoke-filled city of 415,000, It is home of what was once the world's largest steel mill. Located on the Ural River and built in 1929 as part of Stalin's first Five-Year Plan, the plant at its peak in 1980s produced 12 million tons of steel annually with with over 50,000 employees. (the U.S. produced over half that amount of steel at one plant in Gary Indiana with only 7,500 workers at the same time). The gas and dust filters on the smokestacks didn't work, and a third of the city's inhabitants suffer from respiratory ailments, including asthma and chronic bronchitis. Things are little better now.

Magnitogorsk is named after the Mount Magnitnaya, a geological anomaly that once consisted almost completely of iron ore, around 55% to 60% iron. Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works is largest iron and steel works in Russia but there are now large steel mills in China and South Korea. The official motto of the city is "The place where Europe and Asia meet" as the city occupies land in both Europe and Asia.

Magnitogorsk was founded in 1743 as part of the Orenburg Line of forts built during the reign of the Empress Elizabeth. Russian iron-ore mining in this region dates back to 1752, when two entrepreneurs named Tverdysh and Myasnikov decided to check on the feasibility of mining in the area that became famous later. They managed to take full advantage of the fact that the Magnitnaya mountain did not belong to anyone at that time - they secured it for themselves by way of petition to Empress Elizabeth. In 1759, the petition was eventually accepted, and they launched iron-ore production.

Big Allaki Sanctuary

The Big Allaki Sanctuary (between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, about 100 ) is made up of 14 rocks on a small hill. Some of the cliffs and rocks have unusual shapes. The rock outcroppings on the southeastern shore of Big Allaki Lake are called the Big Stone Tents or the Allaki Alter. The outcroppings are up to 10 meters in height and are about 50 meters from the water. There are also stone bowls and through holes.

Over 7,000 years ago, ancient people kept sanctuary in these cliffs. This amazing archaeological site was discovered and described by the archaeologist V. Ya. Tolmachev in 1914. He was the first to make sketches of all of the discovered cave paintings. In the process of digging, Tolmachev discovered stone and bronze arrowheads, pottery fragments, circular granite slab, copper spears, and even a bird-shaped copper idol. Two human skulls were found at shallow depths in the lake. Tolmachev found that the discoveries belonged to Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Ages.

In 1969, the archaeologist V.T. Petrin performed a repeat exploration of the sanctuary. He managed to discover another, previously undiscovered group of petroglyphs. During his excavations, many new ancient artifacts, including crystal ware, were found.

In total, scientists found three groups of drawings, made with ochre, on two cliffs. Most of the drawings are under the cliff canopy, protecting them from rain and snow. The line thickness on most of the drawings is 1-2 centimeters. There are many anthropomorphic images here. By some assumptions, they depict shamans, but geometric patterns in the form of grids, ridges, diamonds, and individual segments predominate. The meaning of a number of drawings could not be interpreted definitely. Scientists have suggested that sacrificial offerings were performed here on a regular basis.

Cave paintings were also found on the Small Stone Tent, located on the western shore. Unfortunately, now they are completely ruined. V.T. Petrin in the late 1960s noted that the cliff became covered with soot due to fires built under the cliff canopy. At the present day, no traces of those neolithic petroglyphs remain.

Ziuratkul National Park and Its Ice Fountain

Ziuratkul National Park (100 kilometers west of Chelyabinsk) was established in 1993. It is named after lake Ziuratkul, which means “Heart-Lake” in the Bashkir language. The lake is surrounded by five high ridges and mountains that protect the basin from cold northern winds. The lake is the highest lake in the Urals and has the purest freshwater. It is also one of the few lakes on the western slope of the Ural mountains.

The park covers 883 square kilometers in one the higher regions of the South Urals. This region is called Sinegorye (Blue Mountains) because, from a distance, the mountain ridges, covered by uninviting taiga forests, seem to be blue in color. The northwest of the park is defined by the Ziuratkul (1175 meters) and Suka (1195 meters) mountain ranges. The Moskal range (1048 meters) defines the park from the southeast. Urenga and Yagodny peaks, both over 1100 tall, are situated in the southeast as well. The central part of the park is occupied by the Nurgush range, whose highest peak is 1406 meters, the highest point of all Chelyabinskaya oblast. The main features of the park's landscape are the vast areas of dark coniferous taiga. On slopes of the ridges you can find Alpine meadows and high-mountain vegetation. The mountain ranges are topped by fantastic residual quartzite. Fast mountain streams, full of rapids, flow down picturesque valleys.

An ice fountain was formed in Zyuratkul National Park by human activities. In 1976, drillers looking for iron ore, stumbled upon a powerful underground river. The drillers capped the hole but water pushed through the cap and couldn’t be contained. Ever since then a fountain of water has spurted from the hole. In the summer the water flows into a nearby river, In the winter the water freezes, forming an extraordinary beautiful blue column. Curiosity seekers cut little window through the a block of ice through which you can see the jet fountain and what looks like a "icicle" inside. Some ice climbers climb the column. Depending on the air temperature and the wind direction, different shapes of ice form from year to year.

Prehistoric tribes appeared on the shores of Lake Ziuratkul in the late Paleolithic era, around 12,000 years ago. Fourteen stone age dwelling sites have been uncovered along the shores of the lake. The park adminisration is in Satko, a small old mining town.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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