General info on the city of Perm
Perm is the most Eastern city of Europe, and therefore its province is often referred to as Eurasia. Having a population of 1 million, Perm' is one of the largest cities in Russia and the second largest in the Urals. The city was formerly called Molotov, after the minister of foreign affairs during Joseph Stalin's ruling. Perm stretches 65 km along the impressive Kama River - Europe's 4th largest river by length. The Perm province, "Permskiy Krai", or "Prikamye", is around two-third the size of the United Kingdom and covers a great area in the very heart of the Ural Mountains.
Perm is internationally known as the name for the geological period (290 - 245 million years ago) in which the Ural Mountain Range was formed. In contrary to the Urals, Perm itself is rather young. Although the first settlement of Perm dates back to 16th century, officially it got its city status in 1723. Citizens still loudly celebrate Perm's birthday on 12th of June, with street parades, concerts and fireworks throughout the whole city! In spite of being a relatively young city, Perm played an important role in the history of Russia. Not the least part of this role was played by Ermak, who was from the Perm Province. Ermak, by order of the Stroganov family, gathered an army here and led it through the Urals, later to succesfully conquer Siberia for Russia. Afterwards, when a road was needed to connect Siberia with the west, construction was started in Perm, which was at that time the capital of the Ural region. The new road, together with the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, allowed development of the places east of the Urals - current big cities such as Ekaterinburg, Omsk and Novosibirsk, were merely peasant or miners' towns by that time.
Nowadays, Perm basically owes its existence to two factors. Firstly, the large amounts of natural resources (minerals, oil and timber) that are present in the region, and secondly (but not less important): its location. The mighty Kama River, the Great Trans-Siberian Railroad and main motorways from Moscow/Kazan to Siberia all cross in Perm, making Perm a main Russian transportation hub. All artillery and rocket vehicles, as well as (intercontinental) ballistic rocket launching systems, engines for MiG jetfighters and canons of all ranges were (and in less proportions still are) produced in Perm.
Nowadays, Perm is obviously accessible to all. Actually, it currently is one of Russia's fastest growing cities because of its economic prosperity.
Perm - 101% Russian, yet multicultural
For Russian standards, Perm is one of the most multicultural places in the whole country; it is a home of many ethnic groups who have lived together in Perm ever since its existence. While taking a walk-through Perm’s huge central bazaar one can easily distinguish Russians at the many typical small kiosks, Georgians and Armenians selling their original spicy kebabs and shoarmas straight from the barbecue and Tatars operating from most of the simple but colorful jewelry stands. Furthermore, Russian orthodox churches, a mosque, a synagogue and several Catholic churches (some dating from the 17th century) all exist next to each other in Perm. The multicultural character of Perm also shows in its dining possibilities; one does never have to go far to experience the Russian, Uzbek, Georgian or Caucasian cuisine.
The Perm opera and ballet theatre
After St. Petersburg and Moscow, Perm is Russia's leading city for opera and ballet theatre. Not only has the city got a wide range of stages and theatres, its educational bodies like the Russian Academy of Theatre Art and Institute for Culture and Art as well as its many international relations in theatre performances and education still give Perm the name of theatre city. One of the most famous stages is the Chaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre Perm. Among its repertoire are internationally known performances (for example Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra, Aida, Cinderella, Le Nozze di Figaro) as well as Russian ones: most works of Chaikovsky have been staged here. Since 1948 the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre has been on tours throughout the whole world, performing in countries such as UK, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany and China. During its history, the theatre has received numerous (inter)national prizes.
The Perm Art Gallery boasts a large collection of arts. Apart from numerous paintings of Flemish, French and Italian masters, it also has modern art collections on exhibition. The museum's collection is among the very largest ones in Russia. The museum is located in a former cathedral, now a landmark of Perm in the centre of the city.
For those who are interested in the history and the culture of the Urals, the Regional Museum of Local Studies and History (founded in 1890) is definitely worth to visit. The museum boasts a wide variety of armory, coinage, pottery, handicrafts, archeology and minerals. It also tells about the Permian period, the geological era in which the Urals were formed.
“Khokhlovka” (Open-air museum of and Wooden Architecture and Ethnography) is in fact a collection of original structures as they existed in the 17th century. Inside the buildings, all kinds of tools, handicrafts and clothes of that time are exposed. The guide will take you around the museum, telling about the hard life 300 years ago. You will be amazed by the beauty of the site; Khokhlovka is located on a green hill and offers great views over the Kama river and nearby villages.
As for architecture, most profound buildings are situated in the city centre. The heart of the city is very unlike what one can expect from a city of over one million inhabitants. It completely lacks the usual modern glass buildings and tall skyscrapers that make up for most big cities’ centres. In fact, Perm’s centre is mostly made up by colorful, classic 3-storied mansions of Soviet architecture, making the centre breath a rather relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Among the most prominent buildings in the city are the centrally located "Young people's theatre", the Feodalyevskaya Church and the Dyagiliev Mansion. Furthermore, the Perm I train station is worth a look, as it is proper ancient (17th century).
In the provincial towns surrounding Perm, such as Kungur, Solikamsk, Usolye and Osa, architectural highlights are dominated by mansions and factories which were built by the Stroganovs and Demidovs in the 17th century. In similar style, a large number of remarkable churches and cathedrals can be found throughout the Perm Province.
In spite of Perm being a relatively unknown city, the city and its region brought forward many famous people. Ballet impressario Sergei Dyaghilev was born in Perm and spent early years of his life here. He became a sensation in Europe during 2 decades of his "Ballets Russes". Dyaghilev's former mansion in the centre of Perm is now a museum. Chaikovsky, one of the greatest composers ever, was born in a small town just south of Perm. Furthermore, Perm was home of Popov, the inventor of radio, and of Boris Pasternak, who wrote Dr. Zhivago here. The Stroganovs, the Demidovs and Tatishchevs in Perm make up for Russia's famous industrials. Ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev wrote history when he produced the ballet sensation "The Rites of Spring" in Paris in the early years of the 20th century.
For those who are more into sports rather than theatre, Perm has many possibilities. Especially in weekends, the offer is large. Football games of Amkar (promoted to Russia’s premier league in 2003) and “Molot-Prikamiye” (see club logo on the right) ice hockey matches take place frequently.
Shopping in Perm is an experience on its own. Like most other cities in Russia, Perm has not got obvious Western-style shopping streets, although the central “Komsomolsky Prospekt” is steadily developing into one. New and modern stores are appearing in and around this proper avenue at a fast rate, among which mostly fashion, jewelry and dining places.
For daily needs, the huge central bazaar is the most popular place. For any tourist, a visit to this site of countless little stands, shops and kiosks simply cannot be missed. The whole city comes together here, making the bazaar probably the most vivid place in Perm. Fruits, vegetables, clothes, cleaning products, tools, audio, sunglasses, kebabs, carpets, almost ANYthing can be purchased here, and usually for very little money too. The large building in the centre of the bazaar is the place where all kinds of meat and milk products are sold. For those looking for cheap clothing, the Chinese-Vietnamese market is the place to go. Decent but cheap is the main subject among the mainly Chinese trade-people at the market.
Perm has an extensive public transport system, operated by busses, taxi busses, trolley busses and trams. They take you to wherever you want to go in the city, even to far outskirts. The standard fare for any means of public transport is 13 rubles, to be paid to the conductor on entrance. Taxi busses start around 6:30 am and stop at 21 pm. All the other transport starts at 5:30 am and goes until 0:30 am. Taxis, naturally, drive 24 hours. If you do not know the city well, it might be difficult for you to find your way through the complicated public transport network. The best thing you can do is to ask the hotel receptionists or your host family which bus or tram number you need. Just remember the name of the stop you departed from, so it will be easy for people to give you directions back, just in case you are not sure which one to take. It is also possible to buy a city transport map at any paper/magazine kiosk, they cost around 2 euro.
Events in Perm
Events in form of sports and theatre take place nearly every day, one shall not get bored! Most interesting performances of ballet, drama and opera are staged at the Drama Theatre, which is located on Lenina Street, at the central square. The Perm Academic Theatre offers all kinds of famous plays, both Russian and international, and has a full event calendar every day of the month. Matches of Molot Prikamye (ice hockey) take place at the Molot Stadium, which is loacated in the eastern part of Perm.
Celebrations throughout the city often take place on Russian national holidays:
- December 31st, New Year
- January 7th, Orthodox Christmas
- February 23rd, Day of Defender of Motherland (fireworks)
- March 8th, Women's Day
- May 1st, Spring and Labour Day
- May 9th, Victory Day (military parades in city centre)
- June 12th, Independence Day and birthday Perm city! (huge fireworks at midnight)
- November 4th, National Accord Day
Furthermore, several occasional as well as annual music, theatre, folklore and anniversary festivals take place in Perm and its region. There is always something to celebrate in Perm!
Perm Weather & Climate
Russia is renowned for its long and cold winters. In case of Perm in particular, this is only partly true. Perm has a temperate continental climate: winters are by far not as harsh (average day temperature in January is -15C) when compared to the more eastern parts of the country. Summers are usually very sunny and warm, averagely +25C in July- and August day times. During those months, many citizens can be found sunbathing on the Kama beaches.