World Cup Fever

After defeating both South Korea and Germany, Mexico will face the final rival in its group today as it takes on Sweden in the FIFA World Cup™. The match will take place in Yekaterinburg, one of eleven cities in Russia to host the games this year. While the World Cup has put these elusive cities of an equally mysterious country on the map, Yekaterinburg’s history may be more familiar to you than you think.

A true representative of Russia’s tumultuous past, Yekaterinburg is synonymous with the murder of the Romanov family by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated after the February revolution of 1917. He and his immediate family were kept in Tobolsk until the Bolshevik takeover, when they were moved to Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg and imprisoned there in May 1918. In July the Bolshevik government ordered the Tsar’s murder. At midnight on 16th July 1918 the Tsar and his family were taken by the guards to the cellar and shot. The bodies were then taken to a mine some 40km (25 miles) outside of town where the guards spent three days destroying the evidence and dismembering the bodies. The remains were doused with petrol and burned.

The following week the town was taken by the White Russian Army who found the blood-covered cellar and the Tsar’s spaniel waiting outside the house. The Bolsheviks blamed a group of counter revolutionaries for the murder and in fact five were tried and executed, but in 1919 upon the death of a local party official, Yacob Sverdlov, it was admitted that he had arranged the murder of the Romanov family. For this ‘service’ he got a city named after him by the Soviets.

In 1991 the Romanov remains were ‘rediscovered’ and in 1992 DNA samples from the bodies were matched with a blood sample taken from Prince Philip (who is a blood relation). A state burial finally took place in 1998 and after much disagreement as to which city it should take place in, St. Petersburg won the day and the Tsar was finally laid to rest in the Peter and Paul Fortress.

However, the significance of Yekaterinburg to the Romanov heritage is not forgotten. The house where the family met their terrible fate was demolished in 1977 but the basement remained. For some time, visitors still came to this desolate site to pay their respects. At last, a Russian Orthodox church named ‘Church on the Blood’ was built in 2003 following the canonization of the Romanovs for their ''humbleness, patience and meekness'' during imprisonment. The church serves as a memorial for the fallen family, who will remain infamous for years to come.

As such, Yekaterinburg is a significant stop on our Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express tours, in both summer and winter and offers our guests a powerful insight into the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Learn more about the fascinating places you can visit aboard our train on the world's greatest railway journey by clicking the link below.

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