The third largest metropolitan in Russia, Perm is a diverse and authentic city at the foothills of the Ural Mountains. It has been inhabited for centuries, and therefore has a rich archaeological background with more than 130 monuments, burial grounds, and places of religious animal sacrifices dating as far back as the 2nd century A.D.
During World War II, the Soviets moved their headquarters, important artifacts, and 64 industrial plants to Perm. It became the center of military weapons manufacturing and was closed to foreigners until 1989. This closure has helped it develop a more "authentic" Russian culture, and many of the historical buildings from the late 19th century are still intact, including an opera house and music school.
Although it is an industrial city, it is surrounded by sprawling mountains and churning rivers. Perm's many exciting activities include hiking and trekking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting, cross-country skiing, rafting, and river tours. When you are not partaking in these adventures, you can visit the salt mines of Solikamsk or take a tour of Perm's well-known vodka distillery, PermAlko.
Perm has around 600 caves, two of the most popular being the majestic Kungur Ice Cave and the Ordynskaya Cave. The Kungur Ice Cave is a labyrinth of 70 underground lakes and grottos and one of the largest gypsum caves in Russia. Ordynskaya Cave is enjoyed by expert divers, as it is the longest underwater cave in Russia.
For a historical look at Perm, you can visit the haunting GULAG Prison camp, Perm 36. Although there were thousands of labor camps that imprisoned an estimated 14 million dissidents and "criminals" in the Soviet period, Perm 36 was one of the only GULAG camps not destroyed after its closure in 1987. It has been converted into a museum in order to give visitors an inside look at this desolate period.
Today Perm is experiencing a cultural revolution as artists embrace the powerful industrial background of the city and incorporate it into their art, dramas, and plays. Perm supports many wonderful plays, ballets, and even puppet shows as it continues its transformation from an industrious, isolated city to a vibrantly creative and diverse hub.
Whatever your interest, Perm has something to excite you. From its natural wonders and heart-pounding outdoor activities to its creative theater and museum life, Perm's authentic Russian culture is palpable.