100 Photos of Kazan
Posted on Aug 12, 2015 by Bimbino
The Travelling Monkeys took a train from Moscow to Kazan. They covered first 800 km of 5500 on their way to Baikal. They travelled for more than 11 hours, but when they woke up they were still in Europe.
Where Orient Meets Occident
Kazan is a city with a rich history which reaches back more than 1.000 years. Once it was the capital oft the Khanate of Kazan and well known as a trade center, for its mosques, and its palaces. After the conquest by Ivan The Terrible in 1552, Kazan became the first non-Russian city in the Russian Empire. Today, Kazan is a European city with an Asian soul. It is the capital of the Autonomos Republic of Tatarstan and the main center of Islam in the Russian Federation. Kazan lies on the banks of the Volga and is located 800 km east of Moscow. The city is best known for ist fortress, the Kremlin of Kazan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000. During the last couple of years Kazan developed into a modern European city. A big part of this development happened due to a few international sport events Kazan had been hosting. The Travelling Monkeys arrived in Kazan just at the end of the FINA World Aquatics Championship. The city was well prepared for the invasion of foreigners.
The Travelling Monkeys had two days to explore Kazan. They thought that would be enough. It was indeed enough to see all significant parts of the central area. However, it was not enough to enjoy the city to the fullest. They were enchanted by the atmosphere of Kazan: something they had never expected to experience in an ordinary Russian city. ...but wait: Kazan is not an ordinary city!
Bimbino and Bambina had a long walk around the city. It was a joyful walk, not only for the body, but for the eyes. Most of the buildings were well renovated, and the architecture was mostly nice. Even in some soviet building were put some efforts. They walked down Karl Marx Street, one of the main streets leading to the Kremlin. On their way they saw dozens of universities and schools, museums, and governmental buildings.
The street is indeed full of buildings. And most of them are beautiful.
It is nice to see a Russian city developing to the better. Construction sites, new facilities, better public transport, everything is going forward in Kazan.
The Marvellous Citadel
Contrary to the belief of many people, 'kremlin' is not just the name of the governmental district in Moscow but a general word which describes a fortified, central complex found in various Russian cities.
Kazan's Kremlin is one of the most beautiful examples for such Russian citadels and it deserves its title as a World Heritage Site not without a reason.
Bimbino and Bambina were enchanted by the place which's origins date back to the 10th century. What makes Kazan's Kremlin so special is the fact, that it is the only Russian fortress with a mosque within it's wall. Watchtowers, church towers and minaretes stand here side by side in harmony.
Kazan's Main Artery
Bauman street lies in the very heart of Kazan and runs between the Kremlin and Tukay Square, the main plaza of the city. The street is an example of typical pedestrianized area like you can find in many other European cities, but only seldom in Russia. On a length of 1.300 meters Bauman Street has everything: shops, cafés, bars, clubs, museums, galleries, sculptures and fountains. Bauman Street is Kazan's main artery, especially in summer it is full of people and life. Don't wonder if you pass by acrobats, street performers, painters or musicians while strolling it down.
The Tatar District
Central Kazan is divided in two districts, one being historically Russian, the other Tartar. Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda - the Tartar quater lies right beside Lake Qaban, in between the Bolaq Canal and the Volga. Tatars are a Turkic people devided into differnt groups. Kazan is home to the Volga Tatars. This ethnic group composes 53% of the population of Tatarstan.
The Tatar distrcit of Kazan is one of the most picturesque in the city. Lovingly renovated wooden houses in manifold colors line the streets. In between, baroque style buildings crowned with minarets. A little jewel that has no equal in Europe.
After the Siege of Kazan in 1552 all the Tatars were sent out of the city and some founded a settlement near the city walls. Most of the Tatar people living there were merchants and handicraft masters.
Nowadays this part of the city is well reconstructed, renovated, and tourist friendly. It has nice restaurants, shops, museums. The wooden buildings are nicely painted in a traditional way. Why don't they do it all over Russia?
Interesting, strange, disappointing, enchanting...
Not everything can be perfect but even abandoned places in Kazan have their special character. After all, Kazan is still a Russian city.
Some examples of modern architecture. Interesting? Strange? Or disappointing?
Some things cannot be defined as good or bad. They are just interesting.
Kazan by night is rather enchanting.
The Volga Beach
Kazan has more to offer than only architecture and culture. The city is located on the Kuybyshev Sea, the biggest artificial lake in Europe. It was created by the construction of dam in the Volga. Right beside the city center there is a small sand beach. A beautiful place for swimming and sunbathing, wan't it for one little detail.
Plastic garbage is a big problem in Russia. People are so used to live with garbage they stop noticing it around them. It made the Travelling Monkeys sad and disappointed not only once during their travels in Russia.
Their last hours in Kazan the Travelling Monkeys spent on the northern shore of the Kazanka River, right opposite of the Kremlin. Here is the location of a building called the Kazan Family Center. Despite its dissuasive name the Family Center of Kazan was one of the most interesting buildings Bimbino and Bambina had ever seen. The center resembles an huge traditional cauldron standing on a fire. From the top the monkeys could admire the panorama of the city, and around the building they could hang out on the lawn and enjoy the sunshine. The second is very untypical for Russia. Usually there are information panels telling "Don't step on this grass!"
Bimbino and Bambina are active Couchsurfers. In Cologne they host travellers almost every week. When they go travelling they cannot imagine staying in a hostel anymore.
The Travelling Monkeys stayed with a local Couchsurfer Roman in his creative studio (http://www.mk-kzn.ru), which he organized together with his brother Max. They arrange workshops for children and adults, presentations, table games, small concerts, movie nights, etc. Studio seems to be very busy and popular. Great to see that people of Kazan are interested in such simple entertaining and uniting concept.
Afterwards there was a short drive with a taxi to the train station, quick dinner and shopping, and the Travelling Monkeys had to get on their train going further east. Next stop was Ekaterinburg...