In Chelyabinsk area, I thought, when does someone become a foreigner in their home country?
I have been living in Finland for more than 5 years and when I come back to Russia – I feel like a tourist. I visit St. Petersburg every month. Culturally, it is considered the closest city to Europe, but already, I find it hard to understand the everyday problems people face. The distance to people happened to be even bigger when I traveled deep into Russia. It was an interesting journey, but some things were really shocking.
My sister moved to the town called Miass in Ural (a region in Russia) and invited me for a visit. I never thought I would volunteer to go to such place. In the past, I used to travel to such “stuck in USSR” places a lot and know them well. For many years, they exist around a large enterprise, which employs almost the whole town. Life there reminds old USSR photographs.
Miass and Chelyabinsk area, quick facts
- Miass is located in Chelyabinsk area, founded 1773, population 150 thousand
- Chelyabinsk is one of the largest cities in Russia, the population is over million.
- Miass lays next to Turgoyak lake, it is called the pearl of Ural
- On the west of the Chelyabinsk area, there is a large national park – Taganay
- Chelyabinsk area is one the largest industrial centers in Russia, it is mainly related to metal industry and mechanical engineering.
When you drive through Chelyabinsk area, the views behind the window constantly change. Beautiful landscapes give place to Industrial areas and back. Many roads are in really bad shape and so shaky, that you want to stick yourself to the chair. Alexey (my sister’s husband) often slows down to go around bigger holes. Car accidents are seen pretty often.
Russia has fantastic nature, but because of infrastructure, it is not easy to get there. But, it has also a good side, you don’t meet crowds of tourists with selfie sticks. Another advantage is that the shoreline often isn’t a private property. It seems, to me that there are more places for swimming than in Europe.
Nature is mixed with industrial objects. Some factories are looking modern, but some are the ready-made decorations for a post-apocalyptic movie. Which is totally understandable, not every industry could survive the crash of the Soviet Union. I have a weird attraction to industrial heritage, so I liked what I saw.
Miass itself is a typical post-soviet place. Would be good for someone who has USSR-nostalgia. Everything is centered around a factory in the automotive industry called “Ural”. It was founded 1941 and produces trucks.
Bad: too many drunks on the streets (like I never left Finland). Good: A lot of senior adults, full of life (like never left Finland)
I think the easiest way to check, whether you belong here – is to see how you handle the local news. Many, who visit Russia don’t understand, how people are able to watch this amount of crime reports and accidents. I found this video called “Miass, resume of summer 2017”.
When I asked locals to comment on that, they told me:
“We have this amount of fun only for 100 thousand people. Try to survive here without humor?”
5 things to do in Miass and Chelyabinsk area.
This is obviously not a full list. I decided to trust the locals to choose the most interesting spots.
Next to Miass, there are most of the regional resorts. Close to the town, there is a lake “Turgoyak”. It is considered second cleanest lake in Russia, after Baikal.
Yes, I wrote that there are more spots for swimming than in Europe, but there is clearly not enough places to change your cloth.
You can rent a place next to the lake, there are options for different budgets.
National Park Taganay
A large and very beautiful mountain park. There are many tracks going through.
If you don’t want to go trekking, there is a well-made visitors center. (everything is good, but don’t go to the bathroom)
As an engineer, I always take a look onto local industries. Sad that they don’t have a museum for Ural cars in Miass.
Behind the truck there is a park, if you go through, you would find the roads where trucks are tested. If you are lucky, you can actually see how they are tested.
The Museum of Minerals shows the large variety natural resources gathered in the area
As a bonus, you can buy a bear.
And a shocking place (without jokes) – Karabash Copper Factory. More in this post.
In the 19th century, Miass was running gold production. When mechanical engineering got to the city, all infrastructure and houses were built aside. The old city is now separated and is a memorial to the past.
That is of course not the best place to see the old architecture. But I probably liked it, because the traditional art of building is actually not done to show it to the tourists. Good to see that at least some of the houses are very well maintained.
We saw the same kind of houses in Rural areas of Miass.
I love dumplings. As a student, I ate too much of them and hated them for a few years. Now I love them again. Unfortunately, in Finland, where I live, they are not very popular.
In old Miass there is the House of Merchant Smirnov, which has a museum of dumplings!!!
The museum shows how dumplings are made in different countries.
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