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Introducing Chelyabinsk

Chelyabinsk, 200km south of Yekaterinburg, is another city of contrasts - a sprawling industrial town set amid the gentle hills and inviting lakes of the Urals.

Founded in 1736, Chelyabinsk prospered as a tea trading city and expanded after 1892 with the completion of the railway from Moscow. Eventually the trans- Siberian main line was to bypass the city. But expansion continued as its arms factories turned out Katyusha rockets and legendary, WWII-winning T-34s, for which it was nicknamed 'Tank City'.

Despite a heavy mantle of industrial sprawl, Chelyabinsk retains odd hints of architectural appeal and is a useful transport hub for excursions into the southern Urals.