The main street in the historical centre of Kazan stretches for about a mile. It's best to take a leisurely stroll along the street, immersing yourself into different epochs and themes: from Ivan the Terrible to the beginning of the 20th century, from the history of the city administration and architecture to the roots of higher education and science.
You can start your tour from the Qol Sharif mosque, one of Europe's largest with an occupancy of 8,000 people. The largest of the fortress' five mosques was burned to the ground in 1552 by the army of Ivan the Terrible together with the shakhids who defended it and the imam in whose honour it was named. The mosque was built from scratch before the city's 1000th anniversary and the money for construction was raised through donations.
Tatarstan is considered a successor of Volga Bulgaria, the northernmost Muslim outpost in history: this territory accepted Islam as a state religion back in 922.
The Christian Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral is also nearby. This is the oldest stone temple in the Volga River region, built in the 16th century. Tatarstan is a unique republic where Christianity and Islam have co-existed for hundreds of years, seamlessly intertwining the cultures of the peoples that live here.
The other attractions of the Kremlin include the leaning Söyembikä Tower, Preobrazhenskaya and Taynitskaya Towers, the Governor's courtyard, Artillery courtyard, a branch of Sant Petersburg's Hermitage Museum, the Museum of Islamic Culture, archeological remains of the khan palace, mosques and tombs of the Kazan khans. The Kremlin also has lots of vistas with astonishing views of the Volga and Kazanka rivers and different parts of the city.
- Kazan Kremlin
- st. Kremlevskaya
- free admission
- 7 (843) 567 81 01
- Ulitsa Kremlyovskaya, 2
- st. Kremlevskaya
- from 75 rub.
- 7 (843) 292 89 84
In the times of the Kazan khan it was called Nogayskaya Doroga (Nogayskaya Road), in the times of the Russian tsars it was named Bolshaya Prolomnaya Ulitsa (in memory of the explosions that fractured (prolomili) the walls of the khan's fortress). In 1986 it became Kazan's first pedestrian street, and has been a constant site of street parties and celebrations. In recent years, it has become the city's commercial and entertainment centre with dozens of restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops and selfie spots. Prices vary but are generally very affordable and a cafe lunch will set you back 250 rubles.
Almost any café will serve traditional Tatar dishes: chicken broth noodle soup, pelmeni or manty dumplings and baked goods such as triangular echpochmak pies, round peremyach or vak-balish pies or sweet gubadiya. Of course you will be served tea and sweets including the legendary honey desserts chak-chak and talkysh kalyave.
The principal landmarks of Ulitsa Baumana are the bell tower of the Epiphany Cathedral (the city's tallest building until just 100 years ago), the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, the Bolshoi Drama Theatre of V. I. Kachalov, the Constructivist building of the Print House, monuments to opera singer Chaliapin, the coach of Catherine II and the Kazan Cat. There are fountains with bronze figures and the “Zero meridian of Kazan” memorial sign.
The monument to Feodor Chaliapin was erected in 1999 near the bell tower where the future singer was baptised. The famous bass singer was first heard in Kazan, where he was born. He spent the first 17 years of his life and began his career singing the part of Zaretsky in the Eugene Onegin opera staged by the Kazan Society of the Lovers of Performing Arts.
- Ulitsa Baumana
- st. Kremlevskaya, Ploshad Tukaya
To get to Kazan Federal University, go down Universitetskaya Ulitsa (Universitetskaya Street).
The university was established in 1804 and became the world centre of non-Euclidian geometry (its creator Nikolai Lobachevsky was the university's provost for 20 years), organic chemistry and structural linguistics.
In Soviet times the university was named after Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin, because the future leader of the Russian revolution had studied in Kazan for a total of three months: on December 5, 1887 first-year student Vladimir Ulyanov was expelled for taking part in a protest against the university charter.
In addition to the main university building, you can visit several university museums. Among them are the historical, archeological, chemical, ethnographic, geological, botanical, zoological and astronomical museums as well as several others. A round square across from the main building with a monument to the young Vladimir Ulyanov has been nicknamed "frying pan" by the students.
- Ulitsa Kremlyovskaya, 33
- st. Ploshad Tukaya
- 7 (843) 238 45 60
One of the main landmarks is the Al-Marjani Mosque – the first stone mosque, built in Kazan with permission given by Catherine the Great herself in 1766. The famous decree on religious tolerance was not signed by the Empress for another seven years. To build the mosque, 62 Kazan residents raised an astronomical sum of 5,000 rubles (in gold), and construction only took three years. For many years the mosque was the main spiritual centre of Tatar Kazan.
- Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda Historical District
- st. Ploshad Tukaya