Sights in the city of Kazan, which we planned to visit on the advice of our Russian friend. But the capital of Tatarstan is easily accessible by plane from St. Petersburg (on the way) or by train (to our next stop Nizhny Novgorod). For me it was like a fairy tale in which the history of Volga Bulgaria, wonderful legends and legends and some hidden charm are intertwined. The history of Kazan is full of mystery, beautiful tales and legends. The city looks like an eastern beauty that deserves generous gifts. Wherever you go, whatever you touch, you always hear about Volga Bulgaria and the Volga Bulgarians.

There are several legends about the origin of the name, and the most common is related to the Bulgarians. They were looking for a place to settle along the Volga and Lake Kaban. The priest told them that where the water in their cauldron boiled without fire, they should found the settlement. There the earth is sacred. That’s what they did. It is believed that Kazan was founded in 1004-1005 by the Volga Bulgarians, and in the XII century was their northern fortress (Kremlin). It was originally made of wood, but in the 16th century the construction of a white stone Kremlin began.

The Kazan Kremlin is the third largest in Russia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kremlin buildings are tempting, but first we take a look at the National Museum of Tatarstan. Beautiful girls welcome curious kids and convince us that their museum is very interesting. In Tatarstan, guests are greeted not with bread and salt, but with chak-chak – tender dough sticks glued with honey. The guide pleasantly surprises us by showing and telling how much the history of Tatarstan is connected with Volga Bulgaria. Today’s Tatars and Chuvash are the heirs of the Volga Bulgarians. The state was founded by Khan Kotrag, the son of Khan Kubrat in the 7th century, around 660.

Which sights in Kazan we visited

  • Lake Kaban
  • Mother of God Monastery in Kazan
  • Inclined Tower Syuyumbike
  • National Museum of Tatarstan

He rejected his vassal dependence on the Khazar Khaganate in the late 9th or early 10th century. During this period, the Volga Bulgarians converted to Islam from the Arabs. The Bulgarians were skilled craftsmen, engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, were good wars. Volga Bulgaria traded with Russia, China, Byzantium, Iran, Central Asia and Western Europe. In the 12th century, battles were fought with the Russian principalities for supremacy in the Povolozhie region. Even in 1107 the Bulgarians captured Suzdal. It lasted until the 13th century, was destroyed by the Mongol-Tatar invasions and became part of the Golden Horde. The territory of Volga Bulgaria was separated from the Golden Horde in the 15th century as the Kazan Khanate.

The Kremlin seems to me huge, a wonderful mix of Christianity and Islam, Eastern and Western elements, with beautiful views of the Kazanka River, which flows into the Volga. The sloping tower Syuyumbike – a symbol of Kazan is associated with beautiful legends. Here is one of them – when Ivan the Terrible conquered the city in 1552, the ruler was the unearthly beautiful Hanka Syuyumbike. Ivan the Terrible wants her for a wife, but Syuyumbike sets a condition – to build a 7-storey beautiful tower in 7 days. Ugly gathers the best builders and build one floor every day. When she is ready, Syuyumbike climbs the tower to say goodbye to her people and her khanate and throws herself out of it.

A common version is that the khanka was taken captive to Russia and forcibly married to Shah Ali. In 2005, the beautiful and exquisite Kul-Sharif Mosque was restored – the largest mosque in Russia until 2016. Ivan the Terrible destroyed many of Kazan’s buildings and mosques, including the beautiful mosque of the Kazan Khanate, killed many Tatars and drove the rest to the swamps. of the Boar. Now the turquoise mosque complements the ancient ensemble of Kremlin buildings. The mosque is beautifully decorated. The chandelier is huge, with stylized tulips.

The Tatars also associated the tulip with the Volga Bulgarians. And another symbol of Tatarstan – their coat of arms has a connection with the Volga Bulgarians – the leopard, the snow leopard. The leopard is the coat of arms of Volga Bulgaria in the 12th century. Lake Kaban is one of the main Kazan landmarks. It is not just a large lake, but a whole water system more than 10 km away and consists of three large lakes connecting canals and straits. The largest lake is in the city and is Dolen Kaban. And again a few legends, but the most poetic is related to the Bulgarians.

When the city of Bulgar, the capital of Volga Bulgaria, was attacked by Aksak Timur, few managed to escape. Among them is the son of the last Bulgarian khan Kabanbek – Prince Kaban. Persecuted, wounded, bloodied Prince Kaban and the other survivors fled north, made their way through impassable forests, swamps and swamps, and finally reached the shores of a large beautiful lake. Its waters were healing – the prince’s wounds healed immediately. Soon a palace and later a settlement were built near the lake. The lake took the name of the prince – Boar. Legend has it that the treasury of the last Kazan Khanate was submerged in the lake.

To this day, it has not been found. We have some time for more interesting places. Kazan cats are famous in Russia as great buzzards. When Catherine II visited Kazan, she was impressed by their skills and immediately 30 Kazan cats were sent to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to protect the imperial property from mice and rats. They are full-time, well cared for, and spread everywhere as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. There are still Kazan cats in the Hermitage. And it is important to pet the Kazan cat on the fat bedside table in order to gain wealth and prosperity.

The Old Tatar settlement is also a place for trade, cultural and spiritual development and living. Catherine the Great was tolerant of different religions. He allowed mosques to be built, and the Tatars built a mosque that seemed too high to Russian dignitaries. They complained to the Empress, but she declared that she was the ruler of the earth, and God ruled the heavens, and the Tatars had the right to build as high as they could. We find ourselves in a miniature village. This is probably what the Tatar settlements once looked like.

There is also a bridge over a pond with goldfish, I don’t know if they fulfill wishes, but just in case we whisper a few. We do not miss the Monastery of the Mother of God in Kazan. In 1579, the 10-year-old girl Matrona had a dream about the Mother of God, who showed her where the icon was buried. This is one of the most famous icons in Russia – the Kazan Holy Mother of God. A temple was built on the site, and in 1798-1808 the main cathedral was built in the Classicist style. The miraculous icon, the protector of Russia, has been redrawn many times. It is believed that the original was stolen in 1904 because of the rich hardware and destroyed.

An icon of the Kazan Mother of God was returned to Russia from the Vatican by Pope John Paul II, and in 2005 the Patriarch of Russia handed it over to Kazan. There is also time for a monastery pie with potatoes and yeast. We joined a local excursion to be able to see and learn as much as possible. We were very well received in the group with people from different parts of Russia.

Friendly, answer our questions. Many have good memories of Bulgaria. I admire that the city is so well maintained, with beautiful buildings and I learn that they have an oil, gas and chemical industry and that gives a good standard of living for Kazan. They give instructions on what else to see. The evening became interesting, the streets are filled with people and performers, there are so many fabulous compositions, and we have to go to the station.