Kazan

Capital of Tartarstan

Kazan (Russian: Каза́нь; Tatar: Qazan, Казан) is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and one of Russia’s largest cities. With a population of 1,243,500, it is the sixth most populous city in Russia. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of Tatar culture. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga (İdel) and Kazanka (Qazansu) rivers in central European Russia.

Ancient Kazan was founded in the late 13th century by the Mongols (Tatars) of the Golden Horde after their overthrow of the Bulgar kingdom.

Monkey Business was once again the first Trans-Siberian tour operator to offer stopovers in Kazan, capital of Tartarstan – a region where Russian and Central Asian cultures overlap. Kazan is a convenient stop in between Ekaterinburg and Moscow and can be added into any Trans-Siberian custom trip with a stop in Ekaterinburg. It also features in many of our longer Polny tours.

Kazan, Russia

Attractions

Kazan Kremlin
Kazan’s striking kremlin is home to government offices, pleasant parks, museums, the enormous Kul Sharif Mosque and other religious buildings. Among the highlights are the Hermitage Kazan gallery and the Tatarstan Museum of Natural History; Some of the white limestone kremlin walls date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Chak-chak Museum
Interactive museum dedicated to traditional Tatar food and drink, particularly sweet ‘chak-chak’, balls of dough that are baked in honey and served on holidays and at family festivities. Call or email in advance to book a place on a tour and leave about two hours to learn how the various foods are made and then to sample teas and sweets.

Soviet Lifestyle Museum
Kazan’s most unusual museum, packed with Soviet knick-knacks, is proof that Russia’s socialist epoch fostered a lively contemporary cultural scene – especially music – in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kul Sharif Mosque
The Kul Sharif Mosque was completed in 2005 and is named after the imam who died defending the city against the troops of Ivan the Terrible in 1552. The museum inside tells the story of Islam, especially on the Volga, and includes manuscripts, some pieces of furniture and women’s costumes.

Old Tatar Settlement
This assemblage of historic timbered buildings, dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries, marks the quarter where ethnic Tatars were forced to live following the siege of Kazan in 1552. Little of the old settlement remains, though many houses still exhibit colourful, traditional decorations. The most significant building here is the Mardzhani Mosque (ul Kayuma Nasyri 17), dating from 1767. It was the first stone mosque permitted to be built within the city limits.

Annunciation Cathedral
The attractive Annunciation Cathedral, built on on the foundations of a razed eight-minaret mosque, was designed by Postnik Yakovlev, who was also responsible for St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It was destroyed several times over the centuries but was restored in the 1990s and finally re-opened in 2005. The museum on site tells the cathedral’s story.

National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan
Opposite the kremlin’s main entrance, the National Museum occupies an ornate 1770 building and has a worthwhile archaeology collection as well as jewellery, weapons and exhibits on the history of the Tatar people and its literary figures. There’s limited signage in English.

House of Zinaida Ushkova/Tatarstan National Library
This small but extraordinary library dates from the early years of the 20th century, when several mid-19th-century houses were united and restyled to give each room its own art nouveau theme. Call ahead for English tours, or just drop by for one in Russian.

Epiphany Cathedral Bell Tower
This impressive bell tower, standing some 74m high, is visible all along the pedestrian promenade of ul Baumana. The tower dates from the late 19th century and can be climbed for impressive views out around the central city.

Syuyumbike Tower
The 59m-high leaning Syuyumbike Tower dates from the early 18th century and is the subject of one of the most romantic of Kazan’s legends.

Tatarstan Museum of Natural History
About a dozen rooms here tell the story of the planets, geology and minerals, and the development of life forms on earth. The most interesting sections are on dinosaurs and the rise of mammals.

Hermitage Kazan
Located inside the former cadet school building, the Hermitage Kazan has top-flight rotating exhibitions, many of them from the collection of St Petersburg’s Hermitage.

SS Peter & Paul Cathedral
This is Kazan’s most attractive Orthodox church, built between 1723 and 1726 to commemorate Peter the Great’s visit in 1722.

Musa Dzhalil Monument
This striking bronze figure of a man tearing barbed wire is at the entrance to the kremlin and was erected to honour the Tatar poet who was executed by the Nazis in Berlin’s Moabit Prison in 1944, leaving a notebook full of poems to a Belgian friend.

Nurullah Mosque
The Nurullah mosque, one of the most historic of the 41 surviving mosques in Kazan, has been rebuilt several times since 1849. A shop sells Islamic paraphernalia. Remove your shoes and donate during the visit.

Soltanov Mosque
The Soltanov mosque, dating from 1867, is located near the central market in the Tatar quarter of town. The colourful interior has a rustic feel. Remove your shoes and make a donation.

 

 

‘We’re recently back from our trip to Russia, part of which you organised for us, so I wanted to give you some feedback.

Firstly, a huge thank-you for all the time and effort you put into making the trip such a success.  Your friendly and helpful attitude plus attention to detail are exceptional. The trip went without a hitch and this is largely down to your organisation.  Well-done.  We met many people who had had contact with you either in person or online and all were most complimentary.

So, our thoughts:

The pre-trip info was extensive and useful.  We referred to it a lot.

The hotels you chose were all excellent, just what we were after in that they were small, well-run and in great locations. Good breakfasts included everywhere (especially Kazan) with the option of a takeaway for early departures.  Although we loved the guest house in Lake Baikal, Listvyanka is very spread out and we would have preferred to be nearer the port area for eating and drinking options at night.  Place itself was great though.  

The meet and greet/station transfers were very helpful.  Our drivers were always waiting right by the carriage door to meet us and helped with luggage and hotel check-in. On the return, they all carried bags right to the station platform, which was a bonus as those train stations are often very large.

Guides: the ones in Kazan were exceptionally good, very informative and sensitive to our wishes and the things we had already done and seen.  They were definitely the best.  The tours themselves were interesting too; we enjoyed the walking ones especially and the trip out to the monastery in Ekaterinburg.

So, overall, a wonderful trip to a fascinating and diverse country.  It’s somewhere we would definitely return to to do more of the Trans Sib journey.  We would certainly recommend your services to others and in fact have already done so.’

Stephanie Traynor, August 2019

Tours

One day Tour

8 hours – Available all year round

Breakfast at Hotel. Check-out or keep your room till 19:00 as a payable option.

Start at 8 hour excursion to Kremlin and museums*. Visit the Vozdvizhenskaya Church containing “God’s Mother” icon, Peter and Pavel Church, walk along Kremlyevskaya street, with views of Kazan State University.

Time for lunch at your choice included, but to be paid locally – a chance to invite your guide if you wish.

Continuation of excursion along Bauman street which is the central thoroughfare of Kazan, use the impressive Kazan underground, Petersburg street, Kazan Anniversary Park.

Free time for dinner (or relax in your room). Transfer to the railway station. Assistance with re-boarding your train for onward travel to Moscow.

Two day Tour

12 hours – Available all year round

Day 1: Breakfast at Hotel. 8 hour excursion to Kremlin and museums*. Visit the Vozdvizhenskaya Church containing “God’s Mother” icon, Peter and Pavel Church, walk along Kremlyevskaya street, with views of Kazan State University.

Time for lunch at your choice included, but to be paid locally – a chance to invite your guide if you wish.

Continuation of excursion along Bauman street which is the central thoroughfare of Kazan, use the impressive Kazan underground, Petersburg street, Kazan Anniversary Park, the Old Tatar district (Islamic meets European Kazan) and visit a Mosque, Lake Kaban & Tatar Dramatic Theatre. Views of Derzhavin monument, Varvarinskaya Church & the National Cultural Center on Kazanka river bank.

Free time and Overnight.

Day 2: Breakfast at Hotel. Check-out or keep your room till 19:00 as a payable option.

Visit to Raif Monastery by car (25km) and with guide, 4 hours. Raifskii Bogorodizkii monastery, territory and cathedrals is a charming & remarkable place – a designated National Park where you clearly see the spirituality and mystery of Orthodox belief. There is an important spring with ‘magic life water’ and making this a monastery famous all over Russia.

Free time for dinner (or relax in your room). Transfer to the railway station. Assistance with re-boarding your train for onward travel to Moscow.

Kazan, Russia