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Throughout the 1930s Magnitogorsk mined its best feature, a mountain named "Magnitnaya Mountain" that was pure iron ore. This purity of iron is a geological anomaly. Pity, as it destroyed its most iconic and stunning sight, all for the sake of Stalin's 5 year-plan. Now the mines are mostly exhausted, but Magnitogorsk bears the scars and the ecological toll of such determined robbery of earth's bounty.
An industrial city on the eastern side of the extreme south of the Ural Mountains, it sits by the Ural River. It is home to the largest iron and steel works in the whole of Russia, the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works. The city only came into being in 1929 as a small town for the factory workers and today mining still influences the lives of the locals.
The Ural River is a natural border between Europe and Asia that runs right through the heart of the city, dividing it into two. It is easy to jump the border and taxi drivers may do it up to 7 times a day. The right bank of the Ural River sits in Europe, whilst the left bank is in Asia and is dominated by the metal and steelmakers. At the foot of the abused and raped Magnitnaya Mountain, its recreation facilities are owned by MMK, the world's largest steel producer based in the town.
Its major tourist attractions sit in the European area of the city but are quite some distance from each other, so it may be best to grab a taxi and explore if you happen to find yourself in this city. You can check out the small two-story houses with minute balconies and decorated walls cloaked in witchy looking trees in the old part of the city. There is a tent-shaped monument in memory of the town's first workers who lived in tents and a large white mosque peering over a carved fence to gawk at. From the observation point at the Tyl Frontu Monument you will get a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape, but the MMK smokestacks sadly mar the vista across the river. You can visit Abzakovo in the winter for ski tracks and the numerous bars and cafes lining the trails, or in the summer months go whitewater rafting or mountain biking.
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