Entertainment

Ilnar Tukhbatov/TASS

This water park has ten slides – all bearing romantic or exotic named like Canyon, Tornado, Niagara, and Bermuda Fall, plus three extreme slides: Flow Rider (surfing the flow), Jump into the Gorge (an all-but vertical slide), and diving with gear in an extra deep swimming pool. There is also a slow river, the Amazon, a few summer pools and an all-season outdoor pool, heated up to 28 degrees Celsius. Additionally there is a spa area with hot tub, Turkish baths and Finnish sauna.

Kids can have fun splashing around in the shallow pools with low-slope slides, or fighting over a pirate fort. This is a great place for a kid's birthday party. Kids can play pirates, search for treasure on an island, or compete in a mock jousting tournament.

Ilnar Tukhbatov/TASS

Sculpted by Asiya Minnullina, the sculptural composition Riddles of Shurale close to Galiaskar Kamal Theatre was unveiled on August 30, 2011, Tatarstan's Sovereignty Day. 2011 was the year of the 125th anniversary of the Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay, who wrote a long poem about the characters of a Tatar folk tale: Baltyr and Shurale. Baltyr was a woodcutter, and Shurale was a fabulous humpback with horns and long fingers, who was wont to tickle people to death for fun. Baltyr managed to fool Shurale. The woodcutter convinced the creep to place its fingers inside the log he was trying to split, ostensibly to keep the split log from jamming. The creature's fingers got trapped. The sculptural composition depicts the beginning of this scene, when the characters sit on a log, talking.

Egor Aleev/TASS

The mermaid is a central character in Tatar folklore. Unlike mermaids in other folklores, the Su anasy (Mother of Water) is not a friendly creature. From time to time she will grab people and pull them underwater, or it will visit droughts, excessive rainfall and diseases on people. Su anasy likes to sit on the shore, combing her long green hair with a gold comb.

The Tatar mermaid boasts a legend all her own. The 16th-century Plains Book of Royal Lineage, one of the earliest history chronicles in Russia, includes a legend of Gausharkad, the daughter of the Khan Mukhammed Amin, who ruled the Kazan Khanate in the late 15th – early 16th centuries (other historic sources indicate, however, that he had no children, was loyal to the Russian Tsar Ivan III, and was actually installed on the throne through Russian military interference).

However that may have been, the mythical daughter of that Khan threw herself into the waters of Lake Kaban when the Tsar's army besieged Kazan, and turned into a water creature. Su anasy, who was suspected of witchcraft even in her human life, was now unstoppable as a mermaid. She cast a spell on the lake so that every enemy person approaching the lake would drown in it.  By another legend, Princess Suyumbike, who ruled Kazan in the mid-16th century, ordered the Khan's riches concealed at the bottom of Lake Kaban under the mermaid's protection before the army of Ivan the Terrible stormed and captured Kazan.

The great Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay perpetuated the mermaid character in literature. Every schoolchild in Tatarstan knows his Su anasy poem. There is no historical subtext to this folk tale: a boy steals the mermaid's hair comb, she comes to his house, scaring the whole village, and demands back what is hers. The boy's mother returns the comb and gives her misbehaving son a proper thrashing.

The metal fountain statue of Su anasy, sculpted by Igor Bashmakov, was erected on Ulitsa Baumana (Baumana Street) in 1997. One time someone stole the statue's comb, too, and it had to be replaced.

Ilnar Tukhbatov/TASS

The largest skating rink in Kazan stays open very late throughout the year. However, it is advisable to phone ahead about the working hours, as a hockey match or concert may be scheduled. You have to leave a deposit to rent a pair of skates. There is a café on the premises. Kids and teens under 18 are not admitted after 10 p.m., unless accompanied by adults. They will ask you to skate counter clockwise. A skating instructor and a physician are on hand.

Алексей Насыров/ТАСС

Akcharlak swimming pool at Azino Neighbourhood has a large basin 50 metres (164 feet) long, a small one 12.5 metres (41 feet) long, and a "dry swimming" room sized 24 metres x 12 metres (79 feet x 39 feet). Kasatka, the sports school for children and teens, is based at Akcharlak. Coached swimming lessons are available, as well as water aerobics and the Mother and Child health programme for kids under 14. A massage therapist works on the premises.

UNICS is the university sports centre with ten courts, where classes are taught all the time in aerobics, shaping, yoga, Pilates, body-flex, dance, wushu, tae bo, rock climbing, aikibudo, and face-building. One might as well make straight for the gym. There are discounts for students, school kids and seniors.

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