With over 100 nationalities, Kazan, meaning pot or cauldron, is indeed a vessel infusing both eastern and western cultures. The ancient land of the Tatars, also referred to as the city “where all worlds come together”, is considered to be a place where people of various faiths live side by side in peace and harmony.
As well as being famous for the magnificent Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kazan, with its young and thriving population is considered to be one of the most vibrant cities in Russia. Kazan is also known as the sports capital of the nation, so if you’ve already made plans to visit for the 2018 FIFA World cup and you’re looking for ideas on how to enhance your experience, then you’re on the right track.
Before I was asked to update the excursions catalogue, I can shamefully admit that I didn’t know much about Russia; my knowledge no future than Moscow and St Petersburg. As you can imagine, it took a while for me to get acquainted with some of Russia’s major cities. With that said, I found Kazan to be the ideal destination to add to our already extensive list because of its rich history, and its religious, ethnic and cultural prosperity, among many other reasons.
So what is there to do in Kazan?
Kazan offers enthralling experiences, especially for those intrigued by the city’s ethnic and spiritual formation. With over 18 universities, magnificent architecture for you to admire, nine theatres, and over 30 museums and art galleries, Kazan is the epitome of a culture vulture’s utopia.
The starting point for many people who have visited Kazan seems to be the Kremlin, but like its counterpart in Moscow, the Kazan Kremlin demands your full attention. I recommend that you spend the best part of a few hours with a tour guide to truly get the full experience, but even then you probably won’t be able to explore its 12 hectares without having to pay it a second visit.
If you’ve read the previous instalments of ‘Let the adventures begin’, you may already know that I’m not a self-professed history enthusiast, but considering the fact that Kazan is as historic as it gets, it only seems right to begin with a trip to the Old Tatar Settlement.
When in Kazan… Visit the the Old Tatar Settlement
I imagine visiting the Old Tatar Settlement would involve walking around the old merchant’s homes to unravel traces of the city’s heritage, following on with a short visit to explore the Mardjany Mosque, and some of the many cathedrals located with the settlement. I would complement that with a city tour covering all the main attractions, including the Tatar State Opera House, and then I would stroll the embankment of the Kaban Lakes, before finally venturing into the city to see some of the city’s grand architecture.
After ending my sight-seeing adventure covering all the main sites, next on my itinerary would be Sviyazhsk Island. During the period when the Muscovite’s sought to eradicate the Khanates for control over Kazan, Sviyazhsk Island was the base for the Russian troops headed by Tsar Ivan IV, otherwise known as Ivan the Terrible. Aside from its rich history, the island offers incredible views of the Volga River, which makes this ancient island all the more appealing to me. I recommend a visit to one of the oldest wooden churches on the island, the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, and the Museum of Sviyazhsk.
After embarking on a tour of the city’s main sites, now would be the ideal time to pay a visit to the Kremlin. The Kremlin is Kazan’s state historical and architectural museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the only remaining Tatar fortress in Russia. Inside the fortress, you will find multiple historic buildings, including the Annunciation Cathedral, and the Qol Sharif Mosque. The Kremlin, is a symbol of the city of Kazan, represents all the reasons why Kazan is the place where all worlds come together. While it may be difficult to see all that the Kremlin has to offer, I recommend that you add the failing Syuyumbike Tower, the Governors house, and two of the fortress’s museums to your itinerary.
All good things must come to an end!
Being a city that’s over 1000 years old, Kazan has many historic and beautiful monuments and landmarks. If you’re goal is to experience the city’s magnificent culture, I recommend ending your trip by visiting a few of the local cafés and restaurants and get a taste of what it means to be a Tatar. If you plan on spending a night in Kazan, a night tour of the city seems very appropriate.
Do svidaniya (goodbye). Until next time!
Now that I’ve introduced you to the magnificent millennial city that is Kazan, the only thing left for you to do is to browse through our excursions catalogue, or choose from one of the listed destinations. Over the next few months we will continue to expand our collection of excursions, so ensure that you keep your eyes open.
In the last instalment of ‘Let the adventures begin’, I covered Novosibirsk, next week I will be covering Ulan-Ude, and then I will conclude this blog series with a short summary about some of our customer’s 2015 adventures in and around Russia.
Have you been to Kazan? If you have, what were the main highlights of your trip? Share your opinions with us on our social media channels; Facebook, Twitter and Google+.