Raifa Bogoroditsky Monastery

Egor Aleev/TASS
Located 27 kilometres (17 miles) west of Kazan. Take Trassa M7 (M7 Highway) to the marked exit. Shuttle buses are available from Kazan and Zelenodolsk to the monastery.

The Baroque monastery complex was established in the 17th century on the shore of Raifa Lake, at the meeting point of three woodland zones – the southern taiga, the western temperate forest and the southern broadleaved woodland. This monastery is a shrine to the miraculous Georgian icon of the Mother of God.

The lands around Raifa Lake are the birthplace of Russian turpentine oil. Up until the end of the 1920s, Russia was unable to produce this indispensable product and imported it from France and the United States. It was believed that the Russian pines did not produce sap suitable for making turpentine and wood resin. It was not until 1924 that a group of scientists from Kazan discovered that the pines growing around Raifa Lake – Pinus Sylvestris – produce lots of highest-quality sap, with turpentine oil content of up to 35%.

This land is also famous for its silent frogs. Legend has it that once upon a time, the monastery’s founder Philaret, tired of the frogs' constant croaking, implored, "Oh Lord! Let them live, but be silent!" And God heard the monk's prayer and granted it.

There is a Pilgrim House Hotel with 25 rooms, a small café, a souvenir shop and paid parking with round-the-clock guards.