Culture & Sightseeing
The capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan-Kazan
A bunch of sky-blue towers and dotted domes seems to have emerged from the blue in the previous placid road of Kazan. The Temple of All Religions is both lovely to behold and equally puzzling. For instance, the ancient archetype dome bulges beside the spiky Gothic towers, while the Islamic crescent looks down on the massive statue of Buddha. This unusual architecture represents the confluence of cultures in Kazan, the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, and one of the 85 federal subjects of Russia.
The origin of the name Kazan can be traced to the Volga Tatar word “qazan” which means “cooking pot.” This name is perfect for a city that has both Christian and Islamic heritage. The history of a town and its historic sites are two factors that fascinate tourists. In this regard, the Kazan museum is a place to visit. It has extensive weaponry that is aged more than a century, crafts, and prestigious ancient jewellery. The museum displays the grandeur of the city under the Kazan Khanate, the rulers of Volga Bulgaria, which is called Kazan in this modern time.
The sights of modern Kazan must be more fascinating compared to its glorious past. Over the last decade, the skylines of Kazan has become one of the most spectacular in Russia. The temple of all religion is located in the outskirts followed by the forest of Bell Towers and Minarets, and the Kul Sharif Mosque in the heart of the city.
The location of the Temple of All Religion towards the outskirts of Kazan, at the banks of river Volga, makes it more fascinating. The grand design contains 16 spikes, each representing a different religion! Locals still contemplate if that many religion will eventually be represented in Kazan in the future. Unfortunately, the prodigious artist, Ildar Khanov, who owns the brainchild of the temple is no longer alive to see its completion. However, even in its incomplete state, the temple sparkles in shades of bright colours and the domes look like massive sky balloons.
The sight of the Temple of All Religion is splendid, but the Kul Sharif Mosque located in the heart of Kazan is equally fascinating. The grandeur building, which resembles a cerulean spaceship emerging from the Kremlin landscape has a mosque and an Islamic museum.
It is interesting to note that the first Mosque at this site was demolished in 1552 when Ivan the Terrible invaded the city. The bloody siege brought the entire Tartarstan under the rule of Ivan IV. The present Mosque in the heart of Kazan was completed in 2005.
The siege that took place in 1552 shaped Kazan into what it is today.
Even after centuries, the epic battle and outcomes are still apparent today. In just a couple of weeks,
thousands of lives were lost as Kazan was captured and most parts of the city laid in ashes. Only a few nobles who were loyal to Moscow survived the ensuing massacre. However, the Kazan freedom fighters continued their fight for emancipation for many decades.
This historical event is crucial to the emergence of many of the architectural structures present in Kazan today. For instance, the blue-and-gold Annunciation Cathedral emerged quickly from the rubble following the invasion. The famous leaning tower of Kazan also dates back to this period. Legends have it that the odd angle of the tower is a result of the hasty construction to meet the deadline given by the Söyembikä, khan’s niece that was deposed. The story detailed that she flung herself from the top of the tower to commit suicide instead of marrying Ivan the Terrible.
However, Söyembikä’s suicide story must have been a fable to show the pride of Tatar because historians claimed that she lived much longer, and married another Khan.
After a couple of centuries, the Soviet era emerged to demolish and repurpose the various religious
buildings in Kazan. For instance, the bronze-coloured Epiphany Church was converted to a university
gymnasium for years. Given the many disruptions over the years, it took decades of meticulous
restoration to bring back Kazan to its present illustrious state.
If you happen to visit Moscow, it will be worthwhile to see Kazan as well. It only takes an overnight train to bring you to the capital city of Tatarstan. A two-night stay in the city will give you ample time to visit all the attraction sites in the city. You will also love the boiled horse meat, which is the delicacy in these parts.
The Trans-Siberian Railway travellers only need to make a minor detour from the rail route between Moscow and Beijing. It is preferable to take the Ural line that routes Moscow–Kazan–Yekaterinburg rather than the Trans-Siberian that routes Nizhny Novgorod and Perm. Since the different legs of the Trans-Siberian Railway are booked differently, you can simply continue your journey from Yekaterinburg after visiting Kazan.