With a population of about 1.3 million (2011 census), rich history, deep culture and strong economic influence, Kazan holds the title of "The Third Capital of Russia" (after Moscow and Saint Petersburg), taking this title from the competing Nizhny Novgorod. By many measures, Kazan has the one of the highest standards of living in Russia, only after Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Kazan has recently earned the reputation of a sports city, due to its recent investments in this domain. Kazan held the Universiade 2013, and will be a host city in the FIFA World Cup in 2018 in Russia. Possibly one of the World Cup semi-finals will be held in Kazan! Both the World Cup and Universiade events are fueling the city's booming construction. In the last couple of years, sport venues have popped up in Tatar capital, together with residential buildings and offices. Many of Kazan's professional teams, such as Rubin (football) or Ak Bars (hockey), have been recent Russia champions.
Kazan has long been a focal point of higher education in Russia. It remains a university city, with some of Russia's top universities including Kazan Federal University (KFU - formerly Kazan State University, TGGPU and the Kazan Finance Institute), Kazan State Technological University (KGTU), Kazan State Technical University (KAI), and "Energa" University. Many foreign students study in Kazan, adding color to the city's tolerant and diverse population. Schools in Kazan, and wider Tatarstan, tend to be some of Russia's best.
Located between Europe and Asia, having both Russian and Tatar populations, Kazan peacefully blends Muslim and Christian cultures. There are also many other religions represented in Kazan. For example, in the city center there is a synagogue and new Catholic church. This vibrant city with over 1,000 years of history is an excellent travel destination, and the number of tourists visiting is rapidly increasing every year.
The Raifa Monastery 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, museum of archaeology, monuments of Islamic architecture from the 13th-14th centuries.
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 theTerrible 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 В.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 Claus) 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!