Chelyabinsk Region is an industrial region and a real backbone of the nation. The region produces pasta and confectionery, stylish footwear and apparel, streetcars and androids, steel plates for Lada cars and massive pipes for oil and gas pipelines. How can they do it all? Find out on one of the many industrial tours offered by manufacturing companies in the region. This article will review some of the most interesting tours available.
Even the most indifferent visitor is sure to be impressed by flowing streams of burning hot metal. A tour around Magnitogorsk Ironworks is like a tour through a bustling town, complete with numerous streets, buildings, and chimneys.
Adult tourists can visit the blast-furnace shop to watch cast iron melt into steel, the cutting-edge 5000 mill that makes thick metal sheets for bridges and naval vessels, and sheet-rolling shop No. 11 where plates for automobiles are manufactured. Children can take advantage of a special bus tour.
The Magnitogorsk Ironworks tours are among the best industrial tours available in Russia. Visitor safety always comes first on these tours. Guests travel around the territory of the Ironworks in a bus. They are also provided with protective clothing, gloves, safety helmets, and goggles at the beginning of the tour (there are separate sets of clothing for summer and winter).
Visitors must register for tours in advance. They must also submit a copy of their passport and their clothing size to the security service several days before the tour. Photography and video filming permits must be arranged separately.
Location: 89 Kirova st., Magnitogorsk
Directions: go by car down the M-5 highway from Chelyabinsk, take the exit to the Troitsky tract towards Magnitogorsk — if you reach Timiryazevskoye on the M-5, you've gone too far. Travel time: 4–5 hours. The easiest way to reach Magnitogorsk is to take the Lastochka commuter train. Travel time: just over 4 hours.
Official website: https://mmk-tour.ru
There are dozens of weapon forges in Zlatoust. The local tradition of weapon-making has existed in the town for over two centuries. The long-lost secret of Bulat steel was rediscovered in the 19th century. Today, Zlatoust blades are forged from the finest Damascus steel, intricately engraved, and inlaid with precious and semi-precious gems.
Visitors should begin their journey at the oldest armoury in town: the Zlatoust Arms Factory. The factory has a museum that displays unique bladed weapons, engravings, cutlery, crockery, home furnishings, and church utensils.
The craftsmen at the Zlatoust Arms Factory engrave both deadly weapons and decorative pieces. For example, a decorated Maxim machine gun manufactured in Izhevsk in 1944 is displayed at the museum and can be photographed.
Visitors at the Zlatoust Weapons Factory can also visit the engraving production facility, meet with the artists, and see the process of weapon engraving and embellishment.
Visitors can make their own engraved medallion with the help of a master artist at the Oruzheinik factory. As they wait for their engravings to be treated with acid, visitors can tour the factory and learn how to throw a knife.
Another site worth visiting is the AiR weapon company. Several years ago, a smithing town was created, forming a real-life settlement of master craftsmen. Guests can fan the flames of the forge with a fur and turn a steel rod red-hot to be bent into the shape of a heart. They can also create their very own 'lucky kuzyuk' coin. Long-time residents of Zlatoust are sometimes called kuzyuks, after the abbreviated name of the factory, which employed many people in the town.
The largest sword in Russia, Svyatogor, is on display inside the AiR company exhibition hall. It is 317 cm long and weighs 32.3 kg.
The company also offers more complex and lengthier workshops on how to forge a steel rose or make a knife.
Location: 140 km from Chelyabinsk
Directions: take the M-5 highway from Chelyabinsk by car. Travel time: 2 hours. Buses depart from all of the major bus terminals in Chelyabinsk and commuter trains to Zlatoust are also available.
Who among us didn't dream of visiting a chocolate factory when they were little? Well now your childhood dreams can come to life in Chelyabinsk! The YuzhUralKonditer factory offers regularly scheduled production and tasting tours, allowing visitors to try sweets straight from the production line.
The factory tour will include an inside look at three facilities: the caramel, praline, and chocolate shops. Here, visitors will learn how cocoa beans are processed into chocolate, how sweets are filled, and how candies are wrapped. At the end of the tour, each guest will receive a sweet treat.
The YuzhUralKonditer factory manufactures over 100 confectionery products, including a number of traditional Russian household names, such as Mishka Kosolapiy, Krasnaya Shapochka, Barbaris hard candy, Dubok Velichaviy, and Merendinki cakes.
We recommend registering for this tour through a local tourism company. They arrange the tour dates with the factory beforehand and assign groups for scheduled visits.
Location: 12 Darvina st., Chelyabinsk
Official website: https://www.uniconf.ru/factories/uzhuralconditer
Although this plant is no longer in operation, it still offers a view of one of the most picturesque dams in Russia. The dam provides a rare example of industrial architecture that fits organically into the natural landscape of the area instead of disrupting it.
Construction of the hydroelectric plant began in 1908 along one of the most rapidly-flowing stretches of the Bolshaya Satka River. After it was completed in 1910, the power plant supplied electricity to the country's first ferroalloy factory.
The Porogi plant features a very unique dam that was constructed out of crude stones from the Uary and Chulkovsky ridges. The mortar that holds the stones together was made with eggs to provide added strength. The dam's technology stood the test of time and continued to work for over 50 years without needing repairs.
The hydroelectric facility operated until 2017. Although the old turbines have now stopped, they are still in tip-top condition.
Location: 200 km northwest of Chelyabinsk.
Directions: by car take the Berdyaush exit off the M-5 highway from Chelyabinsk, then proceed to Romanovka and on to Porogi Township. Travel time: 3 hours.
Another inactive, but very interesting, site is Mica Mountain and the abandoned adits in the village of Slyudorudnik near Kyshtym. The 1.5 km mountain eco-trail is easy, well-equipped, and very suitable for a relaxed Sunday stroll.
In the late 19th century, large deposits of muscovite — or potassium mica — were discovered near Kyshtym. The township of Slyudorudnik quickly developed around the mine. Mica mining stopped in the early 1960s and the adits were sealed off. The mica heaps are now overgrown with forest and are hardly distinguishable from the surrounding peaks.
We would not recommend going into the abandoned mines, which are quite old and very dangerous. Instead, we highly suggest a climb to the top of Mica Mountain to take in the stunning views from the observation deck. Feel free to grab some mica stones as a souvenir. Now that's a good time!
According to a local legend, the famous Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev once visited Slyudorudnik. When he left, he took two big packs of mica for his experiments.
Location: 100 km northwest of Chelyabinsk, 14 km away from Kyshtym.
Directions: go by car from Chelyabinsk to Kyshtym, then follow the signs 18 km to Slyudorudnik. Travel time is 1.5 hours.