If you had visited the ancient metropolis of Kazan in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan a decade ago, you would hardly recognise it if you were to return today. The city’s signature white-and-blue kremlin with minarets and Orthodox onion-shaped domes still stands majestic, elevated on the bank of the Kazanka River, but an infrastructure overhaul has added whole new neighbourhoods to the city in a little more than half a decade.
1. LEATHER SLIPPERS AND KAZAN CAT SCULPTURES
Statues of Kazan Cat – one of the most popular heroes of the Russian folk – is a popular print for lubok of XVII-XIX centuries: “Kazan Cat, Astrakhan mind, Siberian wit” – is a popular display object. The Cat has its own folklore and literary ancestors and relatives. A sculpture of this legendary Kazan Cat has been placed in the capital of Tatarstan at the intersection of Bauman and Musa Jalil Streets. The producer of this metal composition is the famous artist Igor Bashmakov. Every year in the Kremlin’s Hermitage Kazan an exhibition titled “Walking with Kazan Cat” is organised.
Address: Bogema Shop, 66 Moskovskaya Street
2. THE TEMPLE OF ALL RELIGIONS
The complex consists of several cupolas, minarets and spires representing the religious architecture of the 12 major religions of the world. There is a Christian cross, the Muslim crescent, the Star of David and the Chinese dome. However, no ceremonies are performed inside because it is not a functioning temple. The building is just a cultural centre, which also served as the residence of its owner – the local artist and philanthropist Ildar Khanov, and his assistants who practice spiritual healing. Khanov believed that all religions are equal, and the Temple of All Religions was his way of bringing them all under one roof.
3. BAUMAN STREET
Kazan’s main pedestrian street is popular for both residents and guests of Kazan, as a meeting point for people in love, perpetually buzzing with life and fooded each day with musicians, artists, and an incredible range of street performers from folk dancers to fre-shows. Souvenir shops, charming cafés, lively bars, and fascinating museums, are just a few of the entertainment options available on this vibrant street. Fountains and statues adorn the street, making for a beautiful backdrop to the colourful hustle and bustle of Kazan life. When you are in Kazan a walk in Bauman Street – on of the oldest streets in the city – is a must and cannot be missed.
4. KAZAN KREMLIN
Inside the gleaming white walls of this former Tartar fortress is Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO‘s world heritage site. It is the offcial residence of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan. The Kazan Kremlin includes many old buildings, including highlights of the old Annunciation Cathedral (1554-62) – the only 16th century Russian church to have six piers and fve apses, the leaning Suyumbike Tower, the Spasskaya Tower and the Kul Sharif Mosque. The Kremlin also offers a spectacular vista of both Kazan’s historic centre and the enormous Volga River.
Tatar national handicrafts are especially known for their unique leather art and tanning. This kind of very soft, yet long wearing leather is called safyan. Using ancient technologies, craftsmen make amazing items from leather, including shoes, bags, slippers and keyfob.
Address: Safyan Shop, 14 Gladilova Street
6. KUKMOR VALENKI
In Russian, “valenki” refers to the famous felt boots with elegant prints made of natural combed and washed sheep wool from Kukmor Village in Kazan. Felt boots are a kind of traditional Russian footwear, usually worn for walking on dry snow when the weather is frosty. An embroidered felt boot appeared for the frst time in 1880. The felt boots, made by the Kukmor masters, are as attractive as ever before: wonderful boots with coloured fowery embroidery patterns on both sides, are known to be beautiful, well-designed and health-friendly felt boots.
Address: Kazan Souvenir Shop, 15/25 Kremlyovskaya Street
7. THE STARO-TATARSKAYA SLOBODA
After the army of Ivan the Terrible captured Kazan in 1552, Tatars had to stay outside the inner city, settling in a suburb across the Bulak Canal. Eventually there arose a community that came to be known as Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda, or Old Tatar Sloboda. People come here to partake in the authentic local cultural favour. To do so you can visit the Märcani Mosque – one of the oldest mosques in Kazan built in the 1770s, the museum of the great Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay and the Galiaskar Kamal State Academic Theatre.
8. HOUSE OF TATAR CULINARY
Here diners can enjoy traditional Tartar cuisine in the comfort of the restaurant’s plush environment. The luxury of the décor is reflected in the luscious food. Prices are high but thankfully matched by the level of care and dedication put into each and every dish. Guests pay for the quality of their ingredients, and the resulting food is always impressive. For the true Tartar experience, try the delicious echpohmak pastries with goose and beef or the balish pies, followed by succulent horsemeat with stewed vegetables, and for dessert, the famous chak-chak (pastry coated in honeyed sugar syrup and often served with raisins or walnuts). However, the service is quite slow. It often takes about half an hour for a dish to arrive.
Address: 31/12 Baumana Street
Price range: USD21-44 per person.
9. TATARSKAYA USADBA
One of the most popular Tatar restaurants in the city. This is the place most people choose to try Tatar cuisine for the frst time. This is a tourist place with slightly overdone estate colours, but the cuisine is really good. The cook is especially good with pastries, horsemeat, and mutton dishes. Portions are large. Because of the big turnover of customers, the service is not very attentive. The wood stove is a great part of the interior decoration, but do not choose a table near it as it is very hot.
Address: 8 Shigabutdina Mardzhani Street
Price range: USD17-35 per person.
10. PRIYUT KHOLOSTYAKA
Being tired of the nourishing Tatar cuisine, you can come here to try delicious mushroom cream soup, strudel, and the best crème brûlée in the city. The contemporary atmosphere fts harmoniously with the international menu, a fusion of food incorporating everything from sushi to spaghetti. The elegant and carefully crafted menu features delights such as duck breast in honey crust, sea scallops in wine sauce, flet mignon, and grilled trout. What’s more, the deliciously smooth lattes here are some of the best coffee Kazan has on offer.
Address: 27A Chernyshevskovo Street
Price range: USD21-52 per person.
A small chain offering Kazan’s traditional Tartar cuisine to eat in a delightfully authentic atmosphere and at affordable prices. A truly Tartar experience is created by the rustic décor which gives the restaurants the feeling of a peasant’s hut. The Tartar music and Tartar waiters ensure that every part of the dining experience here is authentic. A whole host of local treats are available at great value for money: Plates are piled high with the warm, nourishing secrets of Tartar home cooking. For those travellers feeling more intrepid, local favourites such as horsemeat and horse milk are on offer, and particularly raved about. Traditional Russian specialties feature too on the diverse menu at Bilyar, with classic dishes such as mushroom Julienne, and salad Olivier.
Address: 31 Butlerova Street
Price range: USD9-12 per person
12. SVIYAZHSK ISLAND
The island is located in the picturesque estuary of the Sviyaga River on a high hill. The history of the island is full of events that relate to critical moments of national history. To dive even deeper into the past, you can visit workshops where blacksmiths, tanners, potters, and wood carvers work. The skilled craftsmen create not just beautiful items, but they also symbolise a link across time and the continuity of traditions.
13. KAZAN TSUM
One of the oldest city shops founded in 1940. Beside clothes shops, there are many sports and souvenir shops and the kid’s department lures the small visitors. However, the prices are a bit exaggerated. If you have bad luck with the shopping, you can pamper yourself with something delicious from the food supermarket Bahetle, which sells homemade Tatar food. Reportedly the food at Bakhtele is so good that many Tatar women have actually stopped cooking traditional pies, stews, pelmeni and the like altogether because even they can’t compete with the perfection of local dishes that this supermarket has achieved.
Address: 1 Moskovskaya Street
14. SUVAR PLAZA
A luxury shopping centre aimed at customers with high incomes as prices are high even in the season of sales. 33 thousand square metres accommodate over 70 shops of the best international brands such as Dior, Channel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci, but customers go there mainly for expensive shoes of reputable brands. Like any self-respecting hypermarket, the shopping centre has a cinema, many cafés, and even a ftness centre.
Address: 6 Spartakovskaya Street
It is known as Tatar’s national male headwear and a special art form. The history of the tubeteika is centuries old. Evidence of headgear similar to the tubeteika, worn in ancient times, has been found in sculptures, numismatics, wall paintings, terracotta statuettes, and book miniatures of the 15th and 16th century. The oldest of the known embroidered tubeteikas, stored in museum collections, date back to the middle of the 19th century. Most tubeteika designs are symbols of imperishable human values or talisman images. A ram horn, for instance, symbolises a man’s vigour; a fsh represents women’s fertility. Sometimes they include decorative inscriptions in Arabic in the designs, such as ‘let the tubeteika stay on the head and enemies disappear’.
Address: State Universal Shop,51/50 Bauman Street
16. KOLTSO MALL
It is probably the main shopping attraction point in Kazan, located in the heart of the city close to Bauman Street and Peterburgskaya Street. On the fve foors and 23 thousand square metres, there are shops of over 120 international brands of the medium price category. Here you can buy everything – from clothes and cosmetics to food and household appliances. Due to the central location, the place is always busy with customers varying from leisure students to enthusiastic shopping addicts. You can have a meal at the food court with over 10 fast serving cafés.
Address: 1 Peterburgskaya Street
17. ALAFUZOVSKAYA FACTORY
In a time of new Russian tradition, buildings of former factories are often transformed into creative clusters. The old Alafuzovskaya Factory is no exception. Now it is the home of a new and very fashionable youth place where photo sessions and parties take place in the dark industrial interiors and on Saturdays markets are organised where you can buy some interesting Soviet time souvenirs or modern ethnic craft for real bargains (depending on your luck). Currently, young designers of unusual clothes and accessories who are still establishing themselves are at the premises of the plant and it is nice to walk there.
Address: 55 Gladilova Street
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