Why come to the city of Perm?

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We thought a lot how to convince you that the city of Perm is really worth visiting. We had an idea that one could say: Guys, you live in that city, and of course you should love it, and as every citizen you should admire it and in the eyes of foreigners bet against that it is the best city ever

And we decided that it is one of our customers, one of our tourists and guests Leonard Ward by name, who is the right person to tell you why come to the city of Perm. Here's Leonard's story.

Thoughts on how you might like to spend  some of your time should you come to Perm by an Englishman abroad.
I have been coming to the first city of Europe (as many locals like to call it!) almost every year since 2000 when I first arrived as part of an exchange visit with the Oxford Perm Association, Oxford and Perm being twined, I now consider it to be home when I am in Russia, I look forward to my annual visit with much anticipation, it is a time for meeting old friends and visiting places so familiar to me.

Perm lies 1200 kilometres east of Moscow, it is the city where the transibirian train stops after the first days travel on its way from Moscow to Vladivostok, or a short 2 hr flight from the capital.
wooden arch

A city of almost 1,000,000 “souls“, (similar in size to Birmingham UK), is situated on the east bank of the Kama river with the Ural Mountains about three-hour drive further to the east, Perm is often described as an industrial centre, but do not be deterred from visiting as this description does not paint a true picture of the city or of what is a very beautiful and largely unspoiled area of central Russia. It is a vibrant city, a city of much diversity, a city where all tastes are catered for, whether you like outdoor pursuits or you prefer something more cultural Perm has something for everyone. I can highly recommend a visit to this most interesting of cities which gave name to the last period of Palaeozoic age - Perm period (the name given by a famous Scottish scientist and geologist R.I. Murchison).

My top things to do while visiting Perm in no particular order, are:

1. doing the “Green” and “Red” walks. Whilst the green line takes in some of Perms most significant historic buildings including The State Art Galleries, The River Boat Station, which is now the famous Perm Museum of Modern Art, Perm 1 railway station, (my personal favourite) and The House of Meshkov which now serves as The Museum of Perm Region and many more, the “Red” line tells you some of the most fascinating love stories associated with Perm, including the love story of Lara and Yuri from the world-famous novel “Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak.

2. taking a boat trip on the Kama river. I recently took a trip from Perm to Samara stopping at various other interesting places on the voyage including Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, Yelabuga where the famous Russian poet Marina Tsvetiava is buried, and other equally fascinating places. This was an unforgettable trip through the vast and beautiful autumn countryside on the huge Kama and Volga rivers, 2 or 3 day trips are also available as well as day trips, these river excursions are for summer only, mid-may until mid-September.

3. eating freshly barbecued scumbriya (mackerel) at a little summer bar overlooking the Kama river as the sun goes down with the forests on the far bank as a backdrop.

4. evenings at the theatre, opera or ballet. Perm is well-known throughout Russia for the quality of its performing arts. Both the famous Tchaikovsky Opera/ Ballet Theatre and the Drama Theatre give performances of traditional and contempery works to the highest standard. Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” have always been popular with Perm theatre-goers as the play is set in Perm. Check out “The Theatre near the Bridge” which performs plays based on the novels of such writers as Bulgakov, (“Master and Margarita“) Gogol, (Dikanka). Great stuff!!

5. camping trips. For the rugged outdoor types - this may suit you, taking in some rock-climbing and rafting. Perm region is a huge area, much of it is unspoiled wilderness, mostly forested and with many rivers. The area around the Chusovaya river is particularly beautiful as is the river itself and the unusual rock formations stand guard on the river banks. The famous Russian photographer Prokudin Gorskii, commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II to travel Russia recording in photographs his land and peoples, took nearly 40 photographs of this one river in Perm region, not without good reason. You may view his photographs of old Russia at the Library of Congress!


6. try by hook or crook to get an invitation to spend time at dacha (summer house) - the best kept secret of Russian life. Relax in the garden, go to banja (Russian sauna) in the evening, enjoy “Shashlik” cooked over the fire with maybe a little vodka ah!, a good time for reflection and contemplation as you sit by the dying embers of the fire gazing at the big black star filled sky.


7. explore other interesting towns and landmarks with local tourist companies offering excursions to towns such as Solikamsk and Cherdyn. In times past these towns where the most important in this region. I myself should like to spend much more time exploring them. Other places I have visited include Kungur with its famous ice cave, Khokhlovka - open air museum of wooden architecture, Perm 36 - a soviet prison camp, part of the gulag system which is kept as a museum, and I hope as a reminder of how things can be, given the right circumstances. All these places and many more can be reached by bus from the central market if you are feeling bold.



8. walking in Perm, roaming the streets enjoying the hustle and bustle of every day life is a favourite pastime of mine. There are many gardens, parks and open spaces to enjoy. It is also the best way to admire the diverse architecture in the city centre - alongside the most important historic buildings you will find many good examples of Russian /Soviet architecture of the last 200 years, from 19th century merchant housing and traditional log houses to early soviet constructivist buildings, the grand Stalinist style of the 30’s and 40’s followed by the functional but not so grand styles of the later soviet period, many of the newer high rise buildings built in the last 10 years are of the "New Moscow Style" built on the back of what was a booming economy. Of course, there is much more to take in when walking round the city, many famous people have lived here and there are many plaques on the buildings where they lived, much like the blue plaques we see in the UK but in Russia they tend to give more information about the person though you will need to brush up on your Russian language to read them!


In conclusion, I should like to say that the people I have met here have only ever shown warmth and friendliness towards me. Boris Pasternak said that the time he spent in Perm Region was one of the best periods of his life. It has been the same for me, and as to why those three sisters wanted to leave and go to Moscow I am at a loss to explain!...