Visiting the millenary city of Kazan

The city of Kazan is the sixth most populous in Russia. Located in the Republic of Tatarstan, the city of 1.231.878 million inhabitants is an important financial, industrial and educational center of the country.

The population of the city consists of Russians by 48.6% and Tatars by 47.6%, as well as being one of the most multicultural cities in Russia.

Capital of Tatarstan, stands out for its varied architecture, where Soviet buildings, a kremlin, mosques and modern buildings coexist, giving Kazan its particular personality.

Although one of the biggest icons of the city is the image of the Mother of Christ, patron of the city, paladin and protector of Russia.

Kazan was founded in the year 1005 by the Bulgarians of the Volga as a border fort. The origin of the name is the city is uncertain, the most accepted legend ensures that the name derives from the Bulghar word (and also modern Tatar) “qazan”, which means ‘boiler’ or ‘cauldron’.

Kazan panoramic
Center of Kazan: Tatar Opera and Ballet State Academic Theater “M.Dzhalil” in the foreground on the left. Behind it is the Ministers building.

Walking through the center

Since most of the attractions in the city of Kazan are in its central area, you can make a walking tour of the place by visiting them one by one.

Depending on the location of the lodging establishment, you can start a circular route that takes us to the south coast of the Kazanka River, the Kremlin and the central street Bulachnaya.

Our walk started from the Ploshchad Tukaya metro station, located on Pushkina Avenue, in the heart of the city.

If we go one block to the southwest we will arrive at the Millennium Park, a green space with low trees and frequented by those who work in the area.

Kazan Park
Chrnoye Ozero Park.

Continuing our journey, and returning to the metro station Ploshchad Tukaya, we can walk west on the Bauman pedestrian street, full of shops, bars and restaurants. Although in our case we make a few steps to Universitetskaya Street, then we ascend a few meters on a small hill to Kremlevskaya Street.

Shops and stores at night, in Downtown Kazan
Shops in the center of Kazan, meters away from the Ploshchad Tukaya metro station.
Universitetskaya Street
Universitetskaya Street, on the right is the campus of the University of Kazan.

Here on our left we find the neoclassical building of the Kazan Federal University (KFU), which stands out for its number of columns and dates from 1822.

Kazan Federal University
Kazan Federal University main building.

In front of the building of the University, there is a small park, where we find a statue erected in honor of Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, who with Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy, went through this university.

If we continue west on this street, about 1.000 meters further on, we will arrive at the Kazan Kremlin.

KFU es
Monument in honor of Lenin, in front of the main building of the KFU.

Kazan Kremlin

It is an impressive citadel located on a small hill on the banks of the Kazanka River. The Kazan Kremlin was built by order of Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of the old castle of Kazan.

Within the Kremlin there are many buildings, the oldest is the Annunciation Cathedral, built between 1554 and 1562, and also stands out as the only Russian church of the sixteenth century that has six piers and five apses.

Annunciation Cathedral, Kazan
Annunciation Cathedral.

The bell tower of the cathedral was erected in five levels at the urging of Ivan the Terrible and was scored to resemble the Ivan the Great Belltower in Moscow, although it was destroyed by the Soviets in 1930.

Another of the buildings that stands out is the Söyembikä Tower that probably dates back to the reign of Peter the Great, while, at the southern end is the Spasskaya Tower, which serves as the main entrance to the Kremlin. The latter is named after the Spassky Monastery, which was in the vicinity until the communists destroyed it in the Stanlin government.

Also they emphasize the white towers and walls, built in the XVI and XVII centuries, or the House of the Governor, erected between 1843 and 1853.

The Qolşärif Mosque (also named Qol Sharif), is one of the most outstanding buildings. It was built in the 16th century and in those days it became one of the largest mosques outside of Istanbul.

This mosque was named after Qolşärif, professor and imam religious, who died along with his students while defending Kazan from the Russian forces, in 1552.

Qolsharif Mosque Kazan
The Qolşärif Mosque seen from outside the Kremlin.

On the north wall of the Kremlin is the Secret Tower, so named because it used to house a secret well used for water supply. This tower allows pedestrian access to the Kremlin, but vehicle access is restricted to emergencies only.

In 2000, the Kazan Kremlin was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Kazan Kremlin
The white walls and towers that surround the Kremlin.
Kazan Pedestrian Street, Kazanka River
View of the Kremlin from the banks of the Kazanka River. On the right we see the Spasskaya Tower of brown color, next to the bulbous blue domes of the Annunciation Cathedral and a little to the left, the minarets of the Qolşärif Mosque. On the far left of the image is the Palace of Farmers.

We leave the Kremlin and return to the center of Kazan, following a few meters further west we go down to the Kazanka River. From here we have a wide pier on the right, very good for walking and taking pictures of the small lake that forms the river, in addition to the Kremlin on top of the hill or the Farmers’ Palace.

From this sector we obtain a very good horizon of the buildings located on the opposite coast, such as the Civil Registry with its peculiar mushroom shape, several residential buildings and the precincts such as the Tatneft Arena, which we will visit shortly.

Lake in summer, Kazanka River
North shore of the Kazanka River. On the left the building of the Civil Registry with its mushroom shape. In the center several buildings of modern apartments and on the far right the Tatneft Arena stadium.
Kazanka River in winter
In winter the waters of the Kazanka freeze and the landscape is covered with snow.
Kazan pier
The pier near the Kremlin is perfect for walking and admiring the urban landscape.

Kazan pier, sunset

Kazan pier, clouds and trees

Now we retrace our steps to the south, cross the wide Tysyacheletiya Avenue and arrive at the Central Stadium. Its facilities, with a capacity for 25.400 spectators, served as the home for FC Rubin Kazan, until the Kazan Arena was built.

Piramide donde funciona un bar y club nocturno, junto al Estadio Central.
Piramide where a bar and nightclub works, and on the right is the Central Stadium.

Mirage Kazan

To return to the starting point, from the Central Stadium we head east on Bulachnaya Street. This road has a water channel in the middle, called Bolaq Channel, which in summer we can see surrounded by grass and flower beds that adorn the route.

Bolaq Channel
The two hands of Bulachnaya Street and in its center Bolaq Channel.

The street that circulates on the north side of the channel takes the name of Pravo Bulachnaya, while the one that does it to the south, is called Levo Bulachnaya.

Bolaq Channel snow
The center of Kazan and its Channel Bolaq dazzles at any time of the year.

On these streets are many hotels such as Ibis, Mirage, Bulak, Kapital, among others. Several bars and restaurants of different styles, such as Staryi Ambar, Pasta, Mimino, Driebiya Bujara, Gagarin Night Club, and many more.

Bolaq Channel Kazan

Bolaq Channel. Bulachnaya Street
Numerous bars, restaurants and nightclubs take place in the vicinity of the Bolaq Canal.

Circling this way, about 1.400 meters to the east, we will arrive at Lake Nizhniy Kaban, a small body of water in the middle of the city. From here, going one block north on Pushkina Street, we will arrive at the Ploshchad Tukaya metro station, which was our starting point.

Pedestrian Street Bauman

From the Ploshchad Tukaya metro station, starting and finishing point of our previous route, we can take a walk through the pedestrian zone of Kazan.

The same one is born in this place and continues course west until arriving at the Kazan Kremlin, under the name of Bauman Street.

In this pedestrian street there are bars such as Coyote Ugly, Dom Chaya, Intellet Bar, Chak Chak, Turkish Coffee, Nagai, and many others. Restaurants like Korol Pizzi, Dom Tatarstoi Kulinaryi, Miyasnoi Udar, complement the offer. In addition, Bauman Street also has its place most clothing stores, jewelry and gifts.

Kazan restaurant
One of the restaurants in Kazan.

This is the end of this great tour through the Downtown Kazan. Do not miss the next publication where we cross the Kazanka River to explore the northern sector of the city: The Aquatic Park, the Sibgata Khakima coastal avenue, the impressive stadiums and many other places await us.

You will also have at hand all the accommodation, transport and gastronomy tips that will help you move around the capital of Tatarstan.

Map of attractions in Downtown Kazan.
Most attractions are located in the center of Kazan. In our next article we will cross the Kazanka River to tour the north of the city.
Iani Nikolov
News Reporter

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