After spending the night in Yekaterinburg we drove along the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains southwards to the plains of the South Ural. After Chelyabinsk the landscape was changing fast…
Long straight roads, leading through the steppe, brought us to the industrial city of Magnetogorsk. Located on the extreme southern extent of the Ural Mountains by the Ural River, it was named for the Magnitnaya Mountain that was almost pure iron.
|Still the largest iron an steel works in Russia: Magnetogorsk|
Although the iron ore extraction began already in 1759, the rapid development of Magnitogorsk stood at the forefront of the Five-Year Plans in the 1930s. Members of the Komsomol, the youth division of the Communist Party, constructed the town (which has today about 400.000 inhabitants) and the iron and steel works, which are still today the largest in Russia.
In 1937 the town was declared a closed city (a status that was removed only after 50 years during peristroiska).
|Komsomol Monument in Yekaterinburg|
|The Order of Lenin for Magnetogorsk|
The city played an important role during World War II because it supplied much of the steel for the Soviet war machine, earning an "Order of Lenin", the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union. Today, with the depletion of the substantial local iron-ore reserves, magnetogorsk has to import raw materials.
The River Ural, which is dividing Magnetogorsk, is in this part of the country the borderline between Europa and Asia. So when going down to the south we had to swing back and forth the two continents for a few times…
Driving for about two hours through the rural countryside we reached the ancient place of Arkaim.
Arkaim is the center of the socalled "Land of the Cities", within the borders there is a compact group of fortified settlements of the Bronze Age. It is called a "proto-city" which had its own alternative way of development which was different in many aspects from other routes of a civilization. The site is generally dated to the 17th century BC. Earlier dates, up to the 20th century BC, have been proposed.
|The Arkaim archaeological site|
Since its discovery, Arkaim has attracted public and media attention in Russia, from a broad range of the population, including esoteric, New Age and pseudoscientific organizations. It is said to be the most enigmatic archaeological site within the territory of Russia. The similarity of latitude, date, and size to Stonehenge made it to a popular place especially on June 21 of every year…