Tatarstan Republic

tatarstan republic – республика татарстан

Tatarstan is one of Russia’s national republics, home to the Volga Tatars, descendants of the nomadic Turkic tribe commonly associated with Chinggis Khan hordes that raided Russian principalities in 13-15th centuries. The Tatars have their own language, rich culture, age-old traditions and festivals. Their past and present have been and remain intertwined with the history of Russia in the most dramatic and sometimes fateful way.

kazan – казань

Kazan the capital of Tatarstan dates back to 1005. As in many other cities in Russia, the main place of interest is Kazan’s Kremlin, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. In 2005 Kazan celebrated 1000 years since its founding. Many parks and buildings received a massive makeover, so the city historic center looks very nice. Besides, the coexistence of Slavic and Tatar cultures makes Kazan a more interesting place.

The Kul Sharif Mosque was commissioned in Kazan on June 24, 2005. The mosque was constructed on the site of a mosque by the same name destroyed after Ivan the Terrible captured the city in 1552.

The reflection of Kul Sharif mosque in The Mirage Hotel located across the Kremlin.

The Mirage Hotel is an ideal place to enjoy the Kazan Kremlin view.

Kul-Sharif at night as seen from The Mirage Hotel.

The Kazan Kremlin has many old buildings, the oldest of which is the Annunciation Cathedral (1554-62), designed by the same architects responsible for St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow in the Red Square. By the way,  St.Basil 's Cathedral was built to commemorate the seizure of Kazan.

One of landmarks of the Kazan Kremlin is the leaning Syuyumbike Tower. As a legend goes, after the seizure of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible the last queen of Kazan the beautiful Syuyumbike climbed the tower and jumped from the top. Thus, she preferred death to the prospective of becoming one of Ivan’s concubines. There are several different versions of the Syuyumbike legend.

Another recognizable architectural feature is the Savior’s Tower, which serves as the main entrance to the Kremlin. In front of the tower stands the monument to Musa Dzhalil the Tatar poet who was executed by the Nazis in Berlin’s Maobit prison.

The Kremlin is also home to government offices, the Palace of the Tatarstan President and a pleasant park.

Some kremlinscapes.

Marriages are made in kremlins.

Inside the Kremlin there is a shooting gallery. Visitors are encouraged to practice archery using a bow and an arbalest.

Kazan means "a cooking pot" in Tatar. The biggest restuarant has been built in the shape of a huge kazan.

There are many photogenic buildings in Kazan. For instance, the ministry of agriculture.

Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral is the most attractive Russian Orthodox church. It was built in 1723-26 to commemorate Peter the Great's visit in 1722.

Some more streetscapes of Kazan.

bolgar – болгар

The small town of Bolgar is 180 km away from Kazan by road. Volga Bulgaria was a powerful state of early medieval Eastern Europe. Ruins of its capital have been turned into an open air museum. The site comprises several ruins scattered around a vast area. There are ruins of a mausoleum, a mosque, baths as well as recently built structures. Bulgars adopted Islam in 921.

The Russian 18th century Assumption Church stands next to the minaret and houses an archaeological museum.

Peaceful co-existence.

A new mosque.

An old mausoleum.

the raifa monastery of saint mary

The monastery founded in mid 17th century is just 35 km from Kazan by road and is worth visiting. It stands on a shore of a picturesque lake. The churches were built in the 18-19th centuries.

The 1708 Church of Holy Fathers commemorates monks killed by pagans in the 4th century in Raifa and Sinai.

the island town of sviyazhsk – остров-град свияжск

The town was ordered to be built by Ivan the Terrible in 1551 as a base for the coming siege of Kazan. It is located on an island in the Sviyaga River just 65 km from Kazan by road. A must visit place when in Tatarstan. The whole island now is an open air museum.

The 1555 Assumption Monastery is a UNESCO HERITAGE site.

The town is dotted with eye-catching structures.

The 1551 John the Baptist monastery was founded simultaneously with the town.

The 1604 Sergey of Radonezh Church.

The 1906 Byzantine Cathedral.

A replica of the 1551 Trinity Church.

Wood and gold.

yelabuga – елабуга

The town of Elabuga is more than 1000 years old. In the beginning of the 21st century a special effort was launched to turn Elabuga into a tourist attraction. Currently it is a very nice colorful provincial town designed to attract and to accept tourists. 200 km east of Kazan by road.

Nadezhda Durova - Russian Jeanne d'Arc of the early 19th century. One of the first lady cavalry officers. Distinguished herself during Napoleonic wars. She died in Elabuga in 1866.

The famous Russian artist Ivan Shishkin.

The town is small but hotels are big.

Elabuga boasts one of the first monuments to Lenin.