In 1720, Peter the Great sent his emissary Vasily Tatishchev to oversee mining factories in the Urals. Tatishchev quickly antagonized the Demidovs, a family of influential industrialists, and was replaced by a German, Wilhelm de Gennin. Tatishchev and Gennin are considered Yekaterinburg’s founding fathers and a statue of the two stands in the very heart of the city.

Yekaterinburg’s official founding year is 1723, when the new iron factory opened on the bank of Iset River. The town was named after Catherine I, Peter the Great’s wife, who became Russia’s first empress after her husband’s death.

Yekaterinburg gradually became a center of mining and metalworks. By the end of the 19th century, it was also an important railway junction. Yekaterinburg was one of the first cities to accept the October Revolution in 1917, but the city changed hands several times during the Russian Civil War.

Yekaterinburg became a major evacuation center during World War II and this solidified the city’s status as the industrial capital of the Urals.