Situated at the confluence of two great Russian rivers, the Republic of Tatarstan has been hidden for far too long. Despite being studded with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Tatarstan’s latent tourism potential is known but to a few.
Inhabited by around 4 million people, Tatarstan is home to at least 173 ethnic origins. With some of the best Russian architectures concealed within, Tatarstan is a must-visit for travelers of all kinds.
Kazan the Captivator
One of the oldest cities of Russia, the beautiful Kazan is the Republic’s capital city. With the likes of the Temple of all Religions (a unique architectural complex), Kazan flaunts harmony intertwined with cultural peace along with its mesmerizing architecture and irresistible local cuisine.
Although popular among dedicated travelers, the city of Kazan saw a hyperbolic rise in tourism while Russia hosted the FIFA WC2018.
The UNESCO recognized Kazan Kremlin, along with the beautiful Kul Sharif Mosque and the Annunciation Cathedral make up one of the best places to visit in Russia and exhibit a perfect blend of culture.
The Industrial Beauty of Naberzhnye Chelny
The Naberzhnye Chelny is the second largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, after Kazan. Despite being a large industrial center, this city contains beautiful mosques, parks and theatres – it holds its own colorful flower festival and is bordered by a 185 km long and 20 km wide man-made sea, aka the Lower Kama Reservoir.
Bolgar, The ‘Northern Mecca’
From the remains of the capital of the great Volga Bulgaria, one can only imagine the beauty that the state concealed within. Often regarded as the ‘Northern Mecca’, Bolgar is widely considered as the spiritual capital of Tatarstan. This dates to the Soviet rule, where Muslims who were barred from traveling to Mecca, visited Bolgar instead, thus initiating the local Islamic movement ‘the little hajj’.
Bolgar is home to a number of beautiful ruins, including the Bolgar fort which has been recently recognized by UNESCO in 2014. The recently erected White Mosque, more popularly known as the Russian Taj Mahal, is definitely a sight to behold.
The Fortress Town of Sviyazhks
Around twenty miles from the capital city of Kazan, stands the island town of Sviyazhks which once served as an army base in the siege of Kazan under Ivan the Terrible.
Once a fortress, the town underwent many changes until finally settling for the cultural center of Tatarstan. The small island boasts of as many as 37 cultural monuments.
The Raifa monastery, a 17th century beautiful Christian Orthodox complex is a famous pilgrim attraction. It also contains the Cathedral of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God and the Trinity Church, a complete wooden masterpiece built without using a single nail!
With the peaceful co-existence of so many different beliefs, Tatarstan could easily fool someone like it wasn’t the merging of Volga and Kama, but the confluence of cultures that created something so beautiful!