Kazan – where Europe and Asia meets

Kazan is the “third” capital of Russia, having cheerfully celebrated its 1000th anniversary, modern and archaic at the same time. Perhaps this is the most unpredictable city in the whole country, because here, as in a large cauldron, not only the culture of the East and the West, but also religion, mentality, history were mixed. For example, on the one bank of the river Kazanka the ancient Kremlin, founded in the 12th century, was imposingly settled. And on the other – futuristic skyscrapers of the century 21. Side by side the mosque and the Orthodox church side by side, hurrying to the service, there are girls in scarves – both religions, they are also funny tweeting in the evening in a European-looking coffee house with each other. On the streets there are cats, carriages and – all of a sudden! – the Kazan drake, of course, in the form of monuments. In the subway stops are announced in three languages – and one of them is English. There are many more examples, but is it worth it? Welcome to Kazan. Rihim itgesz!

Quick info

Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,535, it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. The Kazan Kremlin is a World Heritage Site.

In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the right to brand itself as the “Third Capital” of Russia. In 2009 it was chosen as the “Sports capital of Russia” and it still is referred to as such. The city hosted the 2013 Summer Universiade, 2014 World Fencing Championships, the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, and is one of the host cities for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In 2015, Kazan was visited by 2.1 million tourists, which is a 20% increase in comparison with 2014. The Kazan Kremlin was visited by 1.5 million tourists in 2015 and hotel and entertainment complex with aquapark called “Kazan Riviera” was visited by 1 million tourists.

Get in

By plane

Kazan International Airport (IATA: KZN) is 30km to the southeast of the city centre. Aeroflot, S7, Transaero and UTAir fly between Kazan and Moscow, and Rossiya Airlines also flies to Kazan from Saint Petersburg. Finnair, Flydubai, Turkish Airlines and Air Baltic, Azal, Air Astana are some of the international carriers flying to Kazan. International travellers may enjoy shorter queues at passport check compared to overcrowded Moscow airports.

Travelers can take taxi to/from the airport, it takes about 25 minutes. Rates to the downtown start at 450 RUB (7,5 €), it is recommended to use city taxi that can be ordered by phone call or any taxi app (Uber, Yandex.Taxi, Gett etc.). As of January 2016, foreigners may be asked for 1000 RUB (18 €) to city center, although with the taxometer it is 500 RUB (9 €) (to Bauman Street), so use your negotiation skills. To make you arrival more comfortable, there is Tourist Information Office near domestic flights arrival zone. English-speaking friendly personnel will help you to get a taxi, to book a hotel and provide you all the necessary for your trip information completely for free. There is an Aeroexpress train which can take you to Kazan train station from the airport for 40 RUB (0,8 €) in 30 minutes. It only goes every 2 hours even during airport peak hours.

By train

ExploreRussia has a guide to Trans-Siberian Railway.

Kazan is easy to reach by train, as it is a major station stop for several west-east trains. Depending on the train, travel from Moscow‘s Kazan Station can be as short as 11 hours. A direct train from St. Petersburg‘s Moscow Station takes 25 hours. Kazan’s train station is located close to the city center, with several hotels, restaurants, and the Kremlin within walking distance of the train station. Note that the ticketing office is not in the main (historic red brick) building, but in the more modern building with a clock tower next door; as one faces the main building from the street, the ticket office is to the left.

By boat

Kazan has a riverboat terminal on the Volga River and can be reached by river cruise as well. River cruises down the Volga operate during the summer months (early May to end of September). Dozens of boats operated by different companies run from Moscow to Astrakhan. One way or return cruises may be reserved to/from practically any city along the Volga. Turflot.ru and infoflot.ru are several sites that offer tours.

Get around

Much of the city center is walkable, and the main attractions for tourists (the Kremlin and Bauman Street) are only for pedestrian traffic. Public buses are abundant and cheap, but one must have some knowledge of Russian to read the signs or ask where the buses are headed. Bus system maps are apparently hard to come by. Taxis are available and operate mostly an on-call service, rather than plying the streets for fares. They also congregate at a few taxi stands in predictable places such as the train station. A Metro system is being developed, with ten stations on the red line in operation as of early 2013, running between Avivastroitelnaya and Prospekt Pobedy.

A free map is distributed at the reception of hotels.

You can rent a bike from one of several Veli’k stands placed in the centre of the city, but as it requires usage of credit card, the registering procedure might be confusing. Here are some of alternative places to rent a bicycle from:

  • Ziferblat (Clockface), Universitetskaya st., 14 (enter from the back of the building, then follow the stairs to the very top).

This is originally a coworking space/cafe, so try to explain their friendly staff that you need one of the bikes to ride. After leaving some kind of ID (standard procedure for sports equipment rental in Russia), you’ll be off with one of the cheapest bikes for rent in town (2 roubles/min for the first hour, then the price gets reduced to 1 rouble/min.) Tel:+7 843 253 5219

Climate

The weather in Kazan, for the joy of tourists, fairly even – there is no scorching heat in the summer, nor severe frost in winter. Boring, but comfortable. Hence the best time for a trip is all the year round, but to take a swim in a beautiful Volga, before June 1 it is not worth it to be put in, the water will be cool even to frost-hardy Russians.

See

Kazan celebrated its 1000-year anniversary in 2005, for which the city got a major facelift. Visitors today will be able to see many of the reconstructed or newly-constructed sites from the anniversary celebration.

Kazan Kremlin

Once a Tatar fortress, it was largely destroyed by Ivan the Terrible. During the 16th and 17th Centuries, Russians reconstructed the Kremlin with new fortifications and Russian institutions (such as the Annunciation Cathedral). Many of the features of the Kremlin reflect Russian influence of that era, and the construction of the parapets and watchtowers is particularly reminiscent of other dominant Russian cities of the time, such as Pskov and Novgorod. Entry to the Kremlin is through the white clock tower (the Spasskaya Tower) at the end of Bauman Street. Entry costs 300 RUB (5€) with a guided tour, or 20 RUB (0,3€) to explore the grounds on one’s own. There are several interesting things to see inside the Kremlin, including:

  • Suyumbike Tower

The legend of the Suyumbike Tower is that the Tatar Princess Suyumbike was betrothed to Ivan the Terrible, but she consented to marry him only if he could build the highest tower in Kazan in seven days. Ivan accomplished the task, but Suyumbike, rather than subjugating herself and the Tatar people to the Russian ruler, climbed to the top of the tower and jumped to her death. Locals do not seem to believe that the legend is true, but they appreciate the romanticism of it. At present, the tower is not open to climb the stairs.

  • Kul-Sharif Mosque

Named after the 16th-century Tatar imam who died defending Kazan from Ivan the Terrible’s army, the Kul-Sharif Mosque was completed in 2005 after ten years of construction. It is located within the Kremlin walls, making the Kremlin facility now a symbol of multicultural harmony in multiethnic Tatarstan. Entry to the mosque is free, although visitors must pay 3 RUB for plastic slip-covers for their shoes in order to keep the floors clean. Visitors who climb the stairs to the third floor observation balcony do not need to remove their shoes. The prayer hall on the ground floor is open only to men going to pray and the second floor balcony is for Muslim women to pray. All women, though, should cover their hair in all parts of the mosque.

From the observation balcony, visitors can appreciate the beauty of the mosque, which is built in a modern design not unlike modern Turkish mosques. The dome in the shape of a lotus flower and the many windows give the prayer hall a bright and airy atmosphere. One uniquely local feature in the mosque is the malachite columns on the minbar (the free-standing pulpit). Some of the 99 names of God are inscribed on the inside of the upper dome and on the window glass, and the name Mohammed is written in a blue disk at the front of the prayer hall. Verses from the Koran, including an incantation against envy, are written on tile in the four corners of the hall, and the names on disks suspended lower in the hall are those of the four rightly-guided caliphs and some of the early prophets.

An interesting Museum of Islam is located below the ground floor of the mosque. Entrance is free, and a tour in English may be available if the English-speaking docent is on duty. The museum also has a booklet in English that explains the exhibits that can be helpful. Some of the exhibits include displays regarding the status of Tatar language in the Soviet era, some history of the building of the mosque (note the photo of prayers being held outdoors in the 1990s before the mosque was built), and on the lower sublevel is a history of Islam in Tatarstan, which mentions of Empress Elizabeth’s attempt to convert Tatars to Christianity and Catherine the Great’s edict allowing mosques to be constructed.

  • Annunciation Cathedral
  • State Hermitage Museum in Kazan

Affiliated with the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, this museum sometimes has special exhibits of interest.

  • State Museum of the Tatar State and the Republic of Tatarstan

The museum was one of several projects completed for the 1000-year anniversary celebration, and it is located on the former site of the Tatar sultan’s mosque, which was destroyed by Ivan’s army and a residence (?) was built in its place. The building fell into disrepair over the years and a Turkish company completed the renovations for the 2005 museum opening. One must first enter on the ground floor (located just to the left of the Suyumbike Tower) and pay the 20-Ruble entry fee. A group of energetic and chatty old ladies staff the museum, although none speak much English. The ground floor section of the museum is filled with gifts to Tatarstan from foreign dignitaries on the occasion of the 1000-year anniversary, as well as a reproduction of the sultan’s throne (note the gold dome of the Koran case, which is meant to hold the Koran higher than the sultan’s chair) and a reproduction of the mausoleum of the sultans, the original of which is said to be underground nearby: a small square monument marks the spot in the square outside the museum. To reach the second story of the museum, one must go outside and around the corner and climb the stairs in the courtyard near the Suyumbike Tower. There is no cashier on the second floor, so visitors much go to the ground floor section first. The second floor includes a narrative history of Tatarstan, from the early settlement of the Volga-Bulgars to the early Tatar state to Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to Tatarstan in the Russian Federation. The guide will insist that visitors also visit a small room on the side where medals and decorations given to the president are displayed.

Bauman Street

The pedestrian zone that stretches between the Kremlin and Tokai Square and the Hotel Tatarstan. This is Kazan’s Arbat, with boutiques, souvenir shops and kiosks, cafes, bars, and plenty of opportunities for people-watching. The statuary (such as a bronze carriage) is especially interesting.

  • Soviet Lifestyle Museum, Ul. Ostrovskaya 39/6 ; Ul. Universitetskaya (A minute’s walk from Ulitsiya Baumana, above, ‘Dublin’ Irish bar.). 10-18. By far Kazan’s most original and eccentric museum. The museum’s curator, Rustem, is an outgoing, friendly, welcoming guy. He is also very knowledgeable about anything related to ‘Soviet’ culture. Entering the museum is like going through a time-machine back to the USSR. Rustem has managed to acquire anything and everything from the “Soviet” period. He is also bubbling with stories and anecdotes of how “then” compares to “now”. Drop by on Sunday afternoons for impromptu Soviet songs jam sessions, complete with guitars, bass, drums, tambourines, bongos, flutes, fog machines and strobe lights. This place is too fun to be named a museum and is interactive in the fullest sense. Well worth the price. A must see if you’re in, or anywhere near, Kazan. Cheap.

The Temple of all Religions – On the outskirts of Kazan. Take bus number 2 from the center. Interesting building for architecture buffs as it features 16 towers dedicated to different religions. Construction is not complete and you cannot go inside. But it’s worth a look from the outside.

Do

Kazan offers a lot of various events you can visit during your stay here – international opera and ballet festival, different types of music festivals, popular singers concerts and many other interesting things to do. Cirque du Soleil regurlary brings its shows to Kazan. And a must-see event in Tatarstan is a national holiday Sabantuy – tatar summer festival, which is celebrated in the beginning of June.

In summer 2013 four double-decker buses began circulating along their routes in Kazan by “City Sightseeing” company. Tourists will ride on them through the city’s downtown and see the main attractions, historical landmarks, and architectural beauties of Tatarstan’s capital with their own eyes, and not merely see them, but also learn many interesting things about them. The two-level tour buses have been equipped with an audio guide. The audio recording designed to acquaint guests will the city functions in eight languages: Russian, Tatar, English, French, Spanish, German, Turkish, and Chinese.

List of events to visit:

  • International opera festival named after Fedor Shalyapin – annually in February.
  • Russian festival of Folklore “Karavon” – annually in May.
  • International festival of classic ballet named after Rudolf Nuriev – annually in May.
  • Summer tatar festival Sabantuy – annually in June.
  • International handicraft festival “Spasskaya Yarmarka” in Elabuga city – annually in August.
  • International jazz music festival “Jazz v usadbe Sandetskogo” – annually in August.
  • International open-air opera festival “Kazanskaya osen” (Kazan autumn) – annually in September or 30th of August. Entrance is free.
  • Kazan International festival of Muslim cinema – annually in September.

Besides events, from the river station (close to the bus station) you can take boat trips on the Volga. Two-hour boat trips, without any stops, depart a few times a day (12.00, 15.00 and 19.00 on most days) for 180r. You can also take regular services to different places. To the river station you can take trolleybus 4 or 3 from Koljco (Tukaya sq). There are also various buses from other places; the river station is usually the terminal stop. The walk to the river station from the train station is very nice. Cross the railway tracks at the train station over the eastern bridge and follow the water for 20-30 minutes.

Buy

Souvenirs from Kazan reflects Tatar culture and ethnic colour. You can buy items with national ornaments and scenes from tatar folk tales, mosque figurines and many others.

The most popular souvenir, that each tourist want to buy, is tatar national male headwear “Tubeteika”.

Tatar national handicrafts is especially known for its unique leather art and tanning. This kind of very soft, yet long wearing leather called “safyan”. Using ancient technologies, craftsmen make amazing items from leather – shoes, bags, slippers, keyfob and etc.

Shopping and entertainment centers you can visit are:

  • “Mega” is for a family holiday. It’s really all organically combined: a relaxing atmosphere conducive to the implementation of the shopping, places for recreation and leisure, entertainment venues.
  • “Koltso”. The name of the shopping center “The Ring” was due to the location. It is an area that many residents of Kazan call the “Ring.” It appeared in the city in 1768, and the project is creating the architect Vasily Kaftyrev. Historical background, and a convenient location shopping and entertainment areas account for its huge popularity.
  • “GUM”. Updated GUM is a 6 floors, which have clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry and watch showrooms, shops Perfumery and cosmetics. In restaurants and cafes you can find a wide variety of Russian, Tatar, European, Oriental, Chinese, Mexican and Syrian cuisine.
  • “TSUM”. was founded in 1940. The complex is located in the historical center of Kazan, and has a rich past. TSUM always changes with the city, and today it is a large shopping complex with a convenient location and ample car parking.

Eat

Baumana Street has the largest collection of restaurants, cafes, and bars in the city. They range from acceptable to tourist traps. Places to eat off Bauman Street include:

  • Bilyar An inexpensive restaurant serving Tatar food. The rustic interior is designed to look like the interior of a Tatar log cabin, and a few even have salad bars that look like wells. Main courses are 50-200 Rubles. Try their ‘echpekmoks’ with bullion, salad ‘makhebet’, and their Tatar version of ‘ukha’ or creamy fish soup. At all locations, quality has been a constant. For desert, try their chak-chak. 4 locations in the city: Ulitsa Butlerova 31 (up the hill behind the Tatarstan Hotel), Ulitsa Vishnevskovo 15 and Prospekt Pobedi 50a (the latter two are a little farther from the center).
  • Sofra Kebab, Baumana Street 51, 3rd Floor (In GUM, in the food court on the 3rd floor.), 10am-10pm. Excellent Turkish cuisine, at a small cafe, located on the 3rd floor of GUM on Baumana Street. This is the very center of Kazan. There are a few Turkish-run places in Kazan’s center, but Sofra Kebab provides the best quality/price ratio by a long shot. The prices are very democratic for what you get. Order any main dish and receive a free drink and side dish. Many of the main dishes in Turkish can be found here. This includes delicacies such as “doner”/shwarma wraps (grilled chicken, wrapped in flat bread with vegetables), Adana Kebab, Beyti Kebab (excellent, w/garlic yogurt sauce), and Kulbasta grilled chicken. The beef or lamb shashlik is also excellent. All will be grilled fresh, right in front of you. They also have great deserts, including marinated walnuts and dates, vanilla rice pudding and of course, some of the best bakhlava to be found in Kazan. If you’re in the center and tired of standard Russian or Tatar fare, head over to Sofra Kebab. They also have a good “bizness lunch” special. There are three additional Sofra Kebab locations (Uzhni Shopping Center, near Moskovsky Rynok, etc). Cheaply Priced.
  • Priyut Kholostyaka A trendy restaurant with an eclectic menu of European and Russian dishes. Main courses 300-500 Rubles. Clean, quiet, and a bit off the tourist path, this is a good place for relaxing and having tea. Although its name means Bachelor’s Refuge which makes it sound like a strip club or something, it is nothing of the sort. Ulitsa Chernishevskovo 27a.

Self-caterers can find a large supermarket (one of the Bakhetle chain) in the TsUM bulding across from the Mirage Hotel. The bakery across from the Milena Hotel on Tazi Gizzata Street has excellent bread and a few groceries.

Night Clubs
  • Club Arena, 17 Pushkin Street. Big club. 100RUB to get in. House/Techno. Central. Lots of students. Good for a night out. No evident facecontrol.

Sleep

Budget
  • I&I Hostel, Bolshaya Krasnaya st, 45, Tel: +7(960)044-12-49 (iandihostel@gmail.com). Cosy hostel at the centre of a city. English speaking staff. There is a kafe inside, games, music, fun and etc.
  • Oranjin Hostel, Pushkina 1, 3rd floor (20 minutes walking from train station), Tel: 8 843 248-01-49, checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. 2.4.6 bedrooms. Guest kitchen, free WiFi, cosy common room. E-mail for booking: oranjinhostel@gmail.com Prices start at 500 RUB (9 $) per bed.
  • Bulgaru Hostel, Universitetskaya street 4/34 ap.8 (In historical center of Kazan), Tel:(843) 267-18-80 (bulgaruhostel@gmail.com), checkin: 11:00; checkout: 11:00. Founded in 2007 as a family enterprise by Ekaterina Bulgaru and Timur Kamalov. Their concept and major ambition is to combine the care and comfort of a family hotel with the fun and free atmosphere of a student’s hostel. While offering a 24-hour reception and placing no formal constraints on guests like some old Soviet-era hotels, they don’t limit themselves to providing only basic utilities. Wifi is free. 1 bed in day 500 rub.
  • Aillin Hostel, Bauman street 22 (Central part of Kazan), Tel: (843) 297-99-71 (aillinhostel@gmail.com). This is a new hostel, next to the Kremlin, which advertises a friendly atmosphere and cleanliness. From 500 rub/night.
  • Hostel Kremlin, Bolshaya Krasnaya street 8 (Central part of Kazan), Tel: 8 (843) 233-07-88 (hostel-kremlin@mail.ru). Hostel has conceptual design decorated in the spirit of Kazan attractions. Walking down the hall, you can feel like you are on the one of the main streets Tatarstan capital. From 600 rub/night.
Midrange
  • Milena Hotel, Tazi Gizzata Street 19 (From the train station, make an immediate right, walk one block, and turn left at the gas station), Tel: (843) 292-99-92(bron@milenahotel.ru). A new, clean, quiet hotel within walking distance from the train station, and also easy walking distance from Bauman Street and the Kremlin. Note that there is no elevator in the building, so request a first-floor room if that is important to you. Rooms start at 600 Rubles.
  • Hotel Shushma, Narimanova Street 19, Tel: (843) 292-98-21. Next door to the Milena hotel, and quite comparable to it.
  • Hotel Volga, 1 Said-Galeeva (A short walk north of the train station), Tel: (843) 292 14 69. Check if they say that there are no cheap rooms available. clean and basic single rooms from 750 rubles (12 €).
Splurge
  • Courtyard Kazan, 6 Karl Marx Street, Vakhitovskiy District, Tel: +7 (843) 567 4000, checkin: 16:00; checkout: 12:00. The rooms have large windows with Kazan Kremlin views. The hotel’s Lobby Bar has an innovative setting and relaxed atmosphere and a free WiFi. Full American-style breakfast buffet in main restaurant. Roof Bar with Kazan city views and tasty cocktails. Location near the Kazan Kremlin and main Kazan corporations.
  • Mirage hotel, (Directly across from the Kremlin), Tel: (843) 278-05-05 (reservation@mirage-hotel.ru). Easily the most expensive hotel in Kazan, but in a prime location with the greatest number of amenities. Rack rate starting at over 6000 rubles.
  • Suleiman Palace, Peterburgskaya Street 55, Tel: (843) 278-16-16 (suleimanpalace@mail.ru). Comparable in class of service to the Shalyapin Palace, but a bit further away from the city center. The Kremlin is not walkable from here, but it can be reached by a short taxi ride or bus. Rooms start at about 2500 rubles.



Booking.com

Stay safe

Since the ’70s, Kazan has long the reputation of being one of the least safe cities of Russia. The “Kazan phenomenon” of street gangs even became a journalistic and sociological concept. However, since the late ’90s, the situation has changed fundamentally. Kazan has become a host city for a lot of large international events. As a result there was a modernization of police, so crime rate decreased significantly. For example, during WORLD SUMMER UNIVERSIADE in 2013, a lot of citizens and guests shared their impressions, that they felt safe like never before, even walking in the city centre at night.

Contact & Net

Internet cafes and restaurants with WiFi are found throughout the city. Probably the most useful internet cafe for travelers is a small one across from the train station. From the main station building, cross through the park and cross the main street. It is at the corner to one’s left, but hidden behind a newspaper stand and some kiosks.

The post office in Kremlyovskaya St. has seven computers with internet access, for around 36 rub./hour. Pay in advance at the register. Your unspent minutes will be refunded.

Tattelecom on the corner of Baumana and Pushkina, opposite the Koljco mall, has computers with ok Internet for 48 r per hour. Up Pushkina there are a few cafes and restaurants with free unprotected wifi. Also, outside of the Subway restaurant further up on Pushkina there is free unprotected wifi. Mcdonalds also has free wifi (on Baumana and by the train station).

Consulates

  • Iran (General Consulate), Spartakovskaya street, 6, Tel: +7 (843) 526-5849 (irankazan@mail.ruTel: +7 (843) 526-5856).
  • Turkey (General Consulate), Ulitsa Maksima Gorkogo 23/27 P.O. Box:141, 420015, Tel: +7 843 299 53 10 +7 843 299 53 11 (consulate.kazan@mfa.gov.tr, fax: +7 843 264 25 11).
Visa Centers
  • Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Malta, Netherlands, and Spain (EU Visa Center), Tazi Gizzata street, 4. Mon-Fri 9AM – 4PM.
  • Italy, Ostrovskogo street, 87, Tel: +7 (843) 567-11-02 (fax: +7 (843) 567-11-02). Mon-Fri 9AM – 4PM.

Get out

The Raifa Monastery. In 30 miles from Kazan, on the shore of a beautiful lake, in the middle of the forest, behind a white granite wall, in the center of a great National Park you will find one of the pearls of 17th century Russian architecture: the Raifa Bogoroditsky Monastery. The greatest object of this monastery is the Georgian Mother of God icon, which in its day was venerated as a miraculous object with the power to heal the sick. Today the Raifa Monastery is among the most-visited in the world. The grounds of the monastery are located within the Volga-Kama National Park, where the terrain is a combination of southern taiga and deciduous forests. The park’s botanical garden features more than 400 species of exotic plants from North America, Asia and Europe

Ancient city of Bolgar. The National Park of Bolgar is one of few historical-architectural complexes left by the Volga Tatars. It is located on the bank of the Volga 120 km away from Kazan. Bolgar is related with the such names as Pushkin, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Kul Gali and many other famous people. It is a sacred place for all Tatars, a place of pilgrimage for Muslims, and a place generally steeped in legend and history. The National Park of Bolgar is an object of historical and cultural significance. In 1998 the Bolgar Historical-Architectural Complex was included in the provisional list of UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Russian Federation. In National Park of Bolgar you can visit Museum of Bakery, a museum of archaeology (at the time of writing this has yet to fully open), monuments of Islamic architecture from the 13th-14th centuries. To get there, buses depart from Kazan’s South Bus Station (which itself can be reached by taking the number 22 bus from anywhere along Karl Marx Street in the city centre) at 14:00 and 17:45, while buses return from Bolgar at 05:30 and 13:30. The only hotel, the Hotel Regina, is located at the very north end of the town. Room rates start from 1,300 RUB (21 €). Food options are limited, as expected, but an assortment of cheap eateries and a reasonably well-stocked supermarket can be located near the town’s bus station.# Finally, entry to the site is free, although visitors may be charged for entry to the museums.

Island-town Sviyazhsk. The place where the Sviyaga River flows into the Volga forms the idea for Push¬kin’s lively tale of the Island of Buyan. Sviyazhsk was built by Ivan the Terrible as a fortress for the siege of Kazan, and it went on to become the first Orthodox Christian city in our area, the center of the spread of Christianity. The island also became home to the Uspensky monastery and the Ioanno-Predtechensky nunnery. The architectural composition of today’s Sviyazhsk includes perfectly preserved churches, such as the antique wooden Troitskaya Church (built in 1551), Nikols’kaya Church, and Uspensky Cathedral. When Alexander Pushkin first saw Sviyazhsk, he was overjoyed. It seems the city was exactly what he imagined for an ideal fairytale setting: beautiful island on a tall mountain, located exactly in the middle of a great river. This island with its surprising history cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Elabuga. This charming 1000 year old trade center that located on the shore of the river Kama and surrounded by natural beauty is one of the oldest cities in Tatarstan. Throughout its history the city was the cradle of Russian trade, where diverse waves of remarkable people flowed together. Most of its buildings have been preserved in their original condition to this day. Examples include the memorial house museum of Ivan Shishkin and the homestead museum of N. Durova, a famous heroine of the Fatherland War of 1812. Tragic circumstances led the city to become the last refuge of the poet Maria Tsvetaeva. Not far from the Elabuga is the famous Elabuga mound “Chertovo gorodishe” – the remains of a fortified settlement from the Volga tribes of the first millennium Ð’.C. The surviving stone tower is a symbol of Elabuga. On the banks of the river Toima, five kilometers from Elabuga, archaeologists discovered the Ananinsky burial ground, which lends its name to an entire Iron Age culture.

Kysh-Babay Residence (Tatar Santa Clause). The residences of Kysh Babay and Kar Kyzy are located in the village of Yana Kyrlay, in a pine forest on the bank of the river Iya, 60 kilometers from Kazan. The fairytale journey begins with the forest “customs” where Shaitan leads you into the estate of Kysh Babay. The map of Shurale leads guests to path filled with adventures. Among the tales, mysteries, miracles, and fairytale characters you will meet Shurale (the Wood goblin), Shaitan (the Devil), Uburly Karchyk (the Witch), Azhdaha (the Dragon), Batyr (the Kinught), Altynchech (Goldilocks), Tahir and Zuhra (Romeo and Juliet).

Chistopol. The historic town of Chistopol was founded in the 18th century. This town is truly a living museum, with streets and buildings that preserve the spirit of past days. A walk around Chistopol introduces you to the quiet, very special beauty of the Russian countryside. The Melnikov House, the grounds of Uspensky Monastery, St. Nicholas Cathedral – these places all enhance the feeling that the city was built with care and love. You can find very interesting Boris Pasternak museum here. A few kilometers from Chistopol you’ll find the remains of Juketau, a city of the ancient Bolgar Kingdom which served as a trade center during pre-Mongol period.

Tetushi. The pearl of Tetushi is historico-architectural natural park “Dolgaya polyana”. Tourists visited this place say that you feel peace and calm. Local people claim there is anomalous zone with positive energy. Even Khans of Ancient Bolgar used to come to this place for several days to recover peace of mind. There are a lot of old buildings, dated from 1700th. You can even be lucky to see real archaeological excavation! And of course you can enjoy beautiful and splendid nature of Tetushi. Fond of historical reconstructions? Then summer reconstruction of battlefield on Vshiha mountain is definitely worth visiting! You can not only watch, but also participate!

Laishevo. When you will plan your visit to Tatarstan, please note, that in the end of May there is a big ethnic festival Karavon. For nine years annually more than 10 thousand people come to take part. And according to legend, this festival exists more than 300 years! Here you can dance in a round, have a look at the town of craftsman, take part in national amusements and feel cheerful and holiday atmosphere among wearing national costumes people. This festival is definitely worth seeing!

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