Things To Do In Kazan
Occupying the borders of the Volga River, Kazan perches sternly while looking over its cityscape that holds a mix of idyllic vistas and strategic architectural planning. Somehow, it figures out how to be both perky and serious. Regardless of your religious denomination, it is imperative to visit the Temple of All Religions, a rich hub of Russian culture that was created by Ildar Khanov. In spite of the fact that it is continually reconstructed, the religious sanctuary is a real treat for the eyes and a good source of inspiration and nourishment of one’s soul.
When To Go:
The perfect time to tour all of Kazan City is during May –September, when the normal temperatures are a little cooler than most people prefer, at an average of 15°c/ 55.0°f to 25°c/ 65.0°f. Add another layer of clothing if you want to go during April and October when normal temperatures are a bit cooler (between 0°c/ 35.0°f and 15°c/ 55.0°f).
Kazan can turn a bit chilly in different months of the year with temperatures below 0°C/ 34.0°F. If you like touring during cold weather, visit in November through March. Just keep in mind to bring enough thermal jackets with you.
The hottest time of year is in July when it is 20.8°C/ 67.6°F yet it could get up to 25.8°c/ 79.6°f at its most extreme humidity.
Here are the best tourist sites and the things to do in the city of Kazan…
The citadel called the Kazan Kremlin is a small-scale cousin of the Kremlin in Moscow City. It is very recognizable as the official headquarters of the Tatar government. Within its proximity, you can check out the wonderful Kul Sharif mosque and the church as well as a small indoor garden. It also deserves a visit because of the view that the north balcony offers of the River Kazanka and the gardens in front of the Palace of Agriculture. The walls that surround it are really impressive and it has excellent storage and remarkable views of the city. It is worth spending a little time to pay a visit inside where you can find several attractions including Orthodox churches, museums, flower gardens and the scenic landscape of the city of Kazan. It looks fantastic in every season of the year.
It’s a beautiful and charming structure that perfectly represents an iconic symbol of the two religions, which although different, are able to live with respect for each other in this flourishing city. Furthermore, there is also the palace of the President of Tatarstan, but it can only be admired from the outside due to security purposes.
Kul Sharif Mosque
The Kul Sharif Mosque is an imposing structure of Kazan that is visible even from afar. What’s immediately striking is the size of the building and the white marble columns that complement the blue domes. It looks stunning, especially in the evening! It is worthwhile to visit the museum inside (costs 100 rubles for students) but without expecting anything fancy - just to have some more historical references. Through a narrow staircase, you can reach one of the two highest balconies and observe the interior of the mosque from above.
It is located inside the premises of the Kazan Kremlin. The mosque was recently reconstructed and decorated with precious marble and a well-made interior. A balcony, which can be easily accessed by several steps, offers a beautiful view of the central room used for prayer. The reconstruction clearly marks the city of Kazan, emphasizing its Islamic identity by rehabilitating the mosque which was established in the time of Ivan the Terrible. It is a beautiful building with classical Islamic architecture decorated with recognizably Russian designs.
You can also find it at the back of the Hermitage Museum in Kazan. Inside you will be required to pay 6 Rubles and cover your shoes because it is a place of worship. The tour of the Islamic Art Museum is not included in the entrance fee. After the tour of the mosque, you can go to the local market where you will realize what how multiethnic Kazan is.
Cathedral of the Apostles Peter and Paul
The Cathedral of the Apostles Peter and Paul is an incredibly beautiful church that is located at the confluence of Asia and Europe. It is based on the harmony of two great religions in this city - Islam and Christianity. To access the entrance to the main temple at the top of the building, you need to climb the stairs to the left. You must also visit the lower house where you can buy various souvenirs like; Orthodox items, jewelry, and books. Outside and inside, the walls are decorated with bas-reliefs in the form of vines and flowers.
If you’re observant of the decorations, you will notice that the Orthodox Church has a lot of elements that are also inherent in the Muslim faith. If you visit this church, enjoy not only the excellent architecture but also the small decorative components.
It is the oldest and most distinguished Cathedral of Kazan and it stands out in the landscape among the other Orthodox churches because of its unique and very colorful façade and architecture. Another plus factor –it is easy to get to, as it is located on the pedestrian boardwalk near the Kazan Kremlin.
The Annunciation Cathedral is one of the great churches in Kazan because it is richly decorated with carvings and paintings. The cathedral is well-preserved and causes reverential admiration in both the faithful and tourists. You can also enjoy the area in front of the temple. The cathedral is in excellent condition, but taking pictures inside is strictly prohibited. There is a large iconostasis that you must not fail to visit. The church is popular for its architectural beauty and majestic presence. The walls and ceilings are painted with frescoes and even the chandeliers and the sculptures are impressive. There is a well-known story of finding the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. In it, everything becomes closer and clearer and devotees hope that the icon will eventually return to this church someday.
The Annunciation Cathedral located along the Kazan Kremlin is an Orthodox church and serves as an outstanding monument of Russian architecture of the XVI century. The cathedral was established in 1562 and built by the architect Pskov Postnik Yakovlev, traditionally considered the founder of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. If you attend a Sunday church service, you can feel the solemnity, the devotion of its faithful followers, and its serene ambiance.
Ekijat Tatar Puppet Theater
The Ekijat Tatar Puppet Theater is a charming building with cute dolls on the roof. You can climb the huge balcony and the roof on the 2nd floor. In the evening, it has the most beautiful view with nighttime illumination. Later the backlights include other buildings that are directly shrouded with the darkness. Outside, it looks like a childhood dream or a Disney castle. It is very bright and unusual, making you stare longer to compare the impression from what you see.
The puppet theater in Kazan is like a fairy tale castle for adults and children alike. The palace/building interiors are also patterned in the fairy-tale style. It has very cozy rooms with comfortable seats for children that are a bit elevated so that sitting in front of the audience and watching a show will not interfere with their heads. This newly built puppet theater is the epitome of a child's dream. It is located near the city center and can be reached on foot from the main street of Bauman (down the street from the St. Petersburg Ring Shopping Center).
Kazan Federal University
The Kazan Federal University holds the monumental history of the city because it is here where most of the great people or significant figures of Russian history began their glorious paths to become famous. Most of them owe their success to this alma mater. Tracing its humble beginnings to 1917, it started as an all-academic educational center for Russia. Young Ulyanov (Lenin), Lobachvsky, Gorky - these names are all associated with the University and with the history of countries that were born somewhere in the Soviet Union, and resided in Kazakhstan. Particularly striking during that time is its student dormitory building that was built in the 19th century. It looked resembles a house or a noble estate.
The University is a symbolic place for every Russian. It has a rich history and became the mother institution for many great people in Russia. It is located in the heart of the city and it is easily accessible to tourists. The building itself and its sections literally reminds every guest of his valuable role in history. You will be impressed by the atmosphere of the area and seeing the young students definitely add cheerfulness and positive vibes to the historic university. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful patio which has turned into a really well-kept park.
Bauman Street (Kazansky Arbat)
The Bauman Street (Kazansky Arbat) is dubbed as the “living room of Kazan" because it is dotted with places of entertainment and comfort. It is a pleasant pedestrian street that serves as a city lounge. It is also known as the “main road of the big green island". The Bauman is a historic street of Kazan where the Empress Katerina had her official summer residence, a building that is now being rehabilitated to help bring it to its former glory. The Empress was well-loved by tourists and children. The long, wide street is completely closed to traffic. The green island is lined with many cafes, typical Tatar restaurants, antique shops, and art galleries. It is common to find an amateur music artist every hundred meters, making the atmosphere light and festive.
The main street of Kazan also serves as the heart of the city and you can stroll through it all until you get to the Kazan Kremlin. The road is closed to traffic, with shops on the right and dining places on the left, serving typical Russian cuisine. There are some buildings that face the street that are being renovated while some are still closed. It is interesting to see the shops selling souvenirs and antique items. Along the way, there are local artists and a huge shopping center as well as the famous the Tatarstan hotel where you can get an idea of the first hotel of the former Soviet Union. Along the main street, nestled on a hill, is the white building of Kazan Federal University, an educational and historic institution that houses the national library.
The Agricultural Palace is very interesting, especially if you are fond of architecture. The huge tree in the middle makes the building extremely unique. It is an impressive building that is built in a semicircle around the tree (the symbol of agriculture and fertility) making amateur photography a better place than you can imagine. The palace is striking for its beauty and is made in the Viennese style of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Russia, there are similar palaces in style and beauty and this one is no exception. It perfectly complements the architecture of Kazan; the building is very symbolic and majestic.
Despite the fact that many locals of Kazan do not quite like this architectural structure, it speaks of so many things about Kazan. The building looks peculiar and uses a wild mix of styles: Baroque, Classicism and obviously, some modern trends in architecture with lack of harmony in the color scheme. For some reason, the white facade lined dark sculptures look like blots. Do not miss checking it out at night; the palace looks even more radiant when it is illuminated by LED lights.
Leaning Suyumbike Tower
The Leaning Suyumbike Tower is highly regarded as the pearl of the Kremlin. There are many legends about why it is leaning. You can ask the guides or any locals about the tower; they all have stories to tell regarding its creation.
Translated from the Tatar language "syuyum" means "beloved" and "bika" means "mistress". The name of this tower can be translated as “favorite queen”. In fact, in the XVI century there lived a queen, whose name was Syuyumbike and loved by the people. She built this tower in memory of her husband after his death and to signify her great eternal love.
Temple of All Religions
Near the Kazan Kremlin, there is a unique complex called the Temple of All Religions (International Centre of Spiritual Unity) built by the architect Ildar Khanov which also stands on the banks of the Volga. The bright gingerbread dome is clearly drawn on the background of the water. The temple is very impressive because it unites Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. The stunning and colorful temple always makes a great impression because it is beautiful and unusual. It is a pity that it is quite uncomfortable, and not everyone can get inside it. But it can be seen from the train from Moscow to Kazan up to the entrance to Kazan complex.
Natural History of Tatarstan Museum
The Natural History of Tatarstan Museum has many rooms and exhibits. Most importantly, don’t miss the interactive museum where you can touch, feel and experience the particular era and it gives a much better idea of everything than just viewing. It has a very rich exhibition about natural history, the staff are friendly, helpful and answers questions from anyone who is interested to know all about the museum. There are many interactive portions designed for children. The museum is open until 4:00 PM. The only downside is that you can have some difficulty finding the location of the museum. It would be beneficial to more clearly indicate on the map the location of the Kremlin or post a prominent sign outside the building. Still, it is worth all the trouble and you will definitely enjoy the interactive style of the museum.
If you want to explore Russia or make a side trip after a visit to the capital city (Moscow), in order to see and learn more about the history of the nation, Kazan is an ideal choice. There are odd museums, a non-denominational temple, exotic palaces, and attractive neighborhoods where you can find a variety of things to do while in Kazan. A visit here is truly memorable and worth all the effort.
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