Yekaterinburg (Russian: Екатеринбу́рг, IPA: ), alternatively romanized Ekaterinburg, is the fourth-largest city in Russia and the administrative centre of Sverdlovsk Oblast, located on the Iset River east of the Ural Mountains, in the middle of the Eurasian continent, at the boundary between Asia and Europe. It is the main cultural and industrial center of the oblast. In 2017, it had an estimated population of 1,488,791. Yekaterinburg has been dubbed the "third capital of Russia", as it is ranked third by the size of economy, culture, transportation and tourism. It is located about 1,420 kilometres (880 mi) to the east of Moscow.
Yekaterinburg was founded on 18 November 1723, named after Russian emperor Peter the Great's wife, Yekaterina, who later became Catherine I after Peter's death, serving as the mining capital of the Russian Empire as well as a strategic connection between Europe and Asia at the time. In 1781, Catherine the Great gave Yekaterinburg the status of a district town of Perm Province, and built the main road of the Empire, the Siberian Route, through the city. Yekaterinburg became a key city to Siberia, which had rich resources, and was known as the "window to Asia", a reference to Saint Petersburg as a "window to Europe". In the late 19th century, Yekaterinburg became one of the centers of revolutionary movements in the Urals. In 1924, after Russia became a socialist state, the city was named Sverdlovsk (Russian: Свердло́вск) after the Bolshevik leader Yakov Sverdlov. During the Soviet era, Sverdlovsk was turned into an industrial and administrative powerhouse that played a part in the Soviet Union's economy. In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the city changed its name back to its historical name of Yekaterinburg.
Yekaterinburg is one of the most important economic centers in Russia, and the city had experienced economic and population growth recently. Some of the tallest buildings in Russia are located in the city.
In the land now occupied by Yekaterinburg, there have been settlements of people since ancient times. The earliest of the ancient settlements dated back to 8000–7000 BC during the Mesolithic Period. In the area of Isetskoe Pravoberezhnoye I, a settlement dating back to 6000–5000 BC in the Neolithic Period, stone processing workshops were found with artifacts such as grinding plates, anvils, clumps of rock, tools and finished products. According to the analysis of artifacts, the inhabitants of the settlement used over 50 different rocks and minerals to make tools, which indicates a good knowledge of the population of that time of the region's natural resources. On the peninsula Gamayun (left bank of the Upper Iset Pond), there are archaeological monuments dating back to the Chalcolithic Period: in the upper part there were found workshops for the production of stone tools, in the lower part – a settlement of two dwellings belonging to the Ayat people. Also in this area traces of his stay (original dishes with images of birds, evidence of metallurgical production) left the population of the Koptyak people, dating back to 2000 BC, while on the monument of Tent I were found the only traces of burials of this culture in the Urals. In the Bronze Age, the Gamayun people lived in the area, leaving behind fragments of ceramics, weapons, ornaments.
Archaeological artifacts in the vicinity of Yekaterinburg were discovered for the first time at the end of the 19th century in an area being constructed for a railway. Excavations and research took place starting from the 20th century. The artifacts are kept in museums such as the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore, the Hermitage, and the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences.
Russian historian Vasily Tatishchev and Russian engineer Georg Wilhelm de Gennin founded Yekaterinburg with the construction of a massive iron-making plant under the decree of Russian emperor Peter the Great in 1723. They named the city after the emperor's wife, Yekaterina, who later became empress regnant Catherine I. The official date of the city's foundation is 18 November 1723, when the shops carried out a test run of the bloomery for trip hammers. The plant was commissioned on 24 November 6 days later, which its size and technical equipment exceeding all metallurgical enterprises not only in the country, but also in the world. It was granted town status in 1796.
The city was one of Russia's first industrial cities, prompted at the start of the 18th century by decrees from the Tsar[specify] requiring the development in Yekaterinburg of metalworking industries. The city was built, with extensive use of iron, to a regular square plan with iron works and residential buildings at the center. These were surrounded by fortified walls, so that Yekaterinburg was at the same time both a manufacturing center and a fortress at the frontier between Europe and Asia. It therefore found itself at the heart of Russia's strategy for further development of the entire Ural region. The so-called Siberian Route became operational in 1763 and placed the city on an increasingly important transit route, which led to its development as a focus of trade and commerce between east and west, and gave rise to the description of the city as the "window to Asia". With the growth in trade and the city's administrative importance, the ironworks became less critical, and the more important buildings were increasingly built using expensive stone. Small manufacturing and trading businesses proliferated. In 1781 Russia's empress, Catherine the Great, nominated the city as the administrative center for the wider region.