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Road map of the South Urals: From centuries-old mysteries to mountain peaks

Road map of the South Urals: From centuries-old mysteries to mountain peaks

16.11.2011 — Analysis

Russian tourists have gained a firm foothold on the Turkish coasts, overlooking cultural values of the native land. The Chelyabinsk Region is poised to become one of the pillars of the domestic tourism industry. The region has everything to offer a welcoming reception not only to Russian tourists, but also to foreign tourists who are still very few in numbers to go far away from Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Arkaim of the South Urals hit the list of the top eight unparalleled Russian destinations that can impress tourists (according to the Russian-language edition of the Forbes magazine).

Smart recreation

Nature has generously bestowed upon the Chelyabinsk Region remarkable sights that can be breathtaking for a tourist with cultural background. Among them, there are Taganai and Zyuratkul parks, Ilmensky Natural Reserve. The mineralogical province - Russian Brazil - boasts unique store-rooms fascinating with burgundy-yellow and pink topazes, diamonds and euclase. The Ignatiev Cave features an "art gallery" created by ancient people of the Paleolithic more than 14 thousand years ago.

The Arkaim historical and cultural reserve is the main landmark in the South Urals. It is a monument to the unique culture that existed in the veldts of the South Urals from the 3rd to 2nd millennium BC. The ancient site is believed to be the source of exceptional energy. The peer of Egyptian pyramids welcomes up to 80 thousand visitors annually. Arkaim has become a hallmark of the Chelyabinsk Region, being showcased at the most prestigious presentations. Last year, it won recognition from the visitors to the World Universal Exhibition EXPO-2010 in Shanghai. The interest to the reserve is increasing steadily: tour operators start reserving entry tickets for Arkaim from February, and all the tickets are sold out by May.

Another popular attraction for inquisitive travelers is Vera (Faith) Island on Turgoyak Lake. Its name takes its roots from the legend about princess Vera who ran away to avoid the unwanted marriage, and founded a secluded nunnery on the island in the 19th century. Another version offers a religion-based interpretation, as the island was a place of religious worship for many centuries. Tourists can see artifacts of 5.5 - 6 thousand years old. Stone sculptures of heads of animals are especially impressive, having no parallel either in Russia or in Europe. The megalithic complex includes a rock quarry and a copper-smelting furnace, which is the oldest furnace of such kind in Eurasia.

From the cradle of culture to an industrial tour

The Chelyabinsk Region can seek the title of the center for development of industrial tourism. These prospects for the region have been forecasted by experts of the Federal Tourism Agency.

Factory tours that are so popular in Western Europe account for 1% of the tourist market in Russia so far. As usual, Moscow and St. Petersburg have pioneered in the new tourist sector. The South Urals can follow the example. Representatives of the Federal Tourism Agency say that industrial giants can spark the interest of visitors, shattering the idea about obsolescence of the Russian industrial park.

Special attention should be given to Porogi - a monument to industrial heritage, located in the Satka District, being the first Russian electrical ferroalloy smelter with a hydropower plant that has been operating for more than 100 years. Today, the Porogi dam is the only hydraulic structure in the world to have been erected from crude stone masonry (sandstone). In olden days, the smelter complex was equipped with the machinery manufactured by the best foreign companies. The turbine room was equipped with hydraulic turbines and generators manufactured in German city Gotha in 1909. Electric lighting came to the houses of workers of the Porogi smelter when St. Petersburg and Moscow palaces were still lit by candles and oil lamps. The Demidovs plants located in Kyshtym can also give a touch of history. Other places of interest for tourists can be the Koelginsky white marble quarry that has been developed since 1926 and the Korkinsky open pit that is one of the deepest surface coal mines in the world.

Weekend in Putin's style

The quality of sights of the South Urals has been checked in person by top-tier government officials. Vladimir Putin has come to Abzakovo several times to take his mind off government issues on mountain slopes. The state-of-the-art mountain skiing complex has 14 trails of the total length reaching 18 kilometers at the elevation of 320 meters. Those who like a fast spin can complement their sports activities with a diverse program - Abzakovo accommodates an aqua-park and a zoo, spa-complex, health center, biathlon center, shooting range, entertainment complex. Whenever the conversation drifts to mountain skiing brands of Russia, Abzakovo is the first to come to mind. It was recognized as the best and, at the same time, the most affordable ski resort in Russia. This rating was also confirmed at the International Congress of representatives of this industry.

Such popular resorts as Adzhigardak, Zavyalikha and Sun Valley will be appreciated by those who like outdoor activities.

Amateur speleologists can avail themselves of ample opportunities - more than 390 caves extend to 27 kilometers in the South Urals. Thirty of them are declared nature sanctuaries. The region is famous for its lakes totaling more than 3,000!

Investment baits for tourists

The Chelyabinsk Region attracts about 63 thousand "inbound" tourists annually, with tourists from other countries accounting for about 15%. More than 100 hotels and 54 health resorts are at service for coming guests.

In the near future the Chelyabinsk Region intends to gain a footing among the top ten Russian regions that are most attractive to tourists. The ambitious plans are supported with the regional program for tourism and recreation development with the time horizon until 2017. It includes 28 investment projects that will be backed up with more than 13.2 billion rubles. Investors are ready to put up 12.5 billion rubles, while the regional authorities will take responsibility for infrastructure development. The South Urals will have eco-parks, new mountain skiing centers, and health resorts. For example, great interest is generated by the construction project for a tourist center in Taganai (in the vicinity of Zlatoust). It will take two years and 100 million rubles. The center will have sports facilities, a tube track, hotels, restaurants, and an aqua-park.

Investors are being looked for development of a mountain resort at Urenga. The year-round sports and tourism center near Zlatoust will be able to accommodate up to 600 people at a time. Ski athletes will have their training on 15 trails of 680-1,150 meters long; the trails will be equipped with lifts (these elevations do not "yield" to those typical of international and Olympic competitions). The plans include a ski stadium and bobsleigh tracks.

Governor Mikhail Yurevich, who enthusiastically embarked on attraction of foreign investment in the economy of the Chelyabinsk Region, was able to promote the tourism sector. The Italian company Skipass Valle Isarco Plose is upgrading the Sun Valley ski resort in Miass. The investment will exceed 100 million US dollars. There will be three European-class hotels and a center of Chinese medicine in the vicinity of the mountain skiing complex.

Governor Mikhail Yurevich thinks that the region can be attractive to foreign visitors; however, the region should count on Russian fans of outdoor activities, such as hunting and rafting. "As a rule, when people take vacation, they can look at excavations and historical monuments along their way, the head of the region notes. - Russian people seem to go to other countries, to the seaside a lot, but if we take the percentage proportion to the total population, we can say that people tend to have their vacation at home. Therefore, the focus should be on services and the level of services to be developed in the South Urals".

Margarita Romashova

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