Kazan – Where the East and the West Meet

Kazan_churchHaving turned 1000 years in 2005, Kazan is one of the oldest cities of Russia, and has been called its third capital city. It makes such a fascinating destination in Russia because of its long history and magnificent architectural monuments that readily tell visitors about its dramatic past.

Kazan is home to the Tatar people, who are the descendants of the Turkic tribe that came to Russia during the Medieval Times.  Sandwiched between Asia and Europe, Kazan has always been successful in making the East and West worlds meet, and interact with each other in a peaceful and harmonious fashion. The existence of the upper and lower towns represents the two major cultural and religious influences that have thrived in the city.  Regardless of their background, residents generally have received good education, and enjoyed economic growth while maintaining their customs and identity. This unique dynamics makes Kazan a truly great cultural destination.

Some of the main attractions in Kazan are found in the downtown section. Within this area sit some of the most iconic architectural masterpieces of the city. Among them is the Kazan Kremlin, a once mighty fortress of the Tartar, which was destroyed by Ivan the Terrible.  Hailed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, the Kremlin was reconstructed between the 16th and 17th century with added fortifications, parapets, watchtowers and buildings.

Today the Kremlin complex mostly reflects the Russian influence. Guided tours to this attraction are available.  Entrance to the complex is through the white clock tower named Spasskaya.  Some of the most notable structures within Kremlin include the legendary Suyumbike Tower, the modern Kul-Sharif Mosque, and the State Hermitage Museum in Kazan.

The Catholic religion is also proudly represented in the Kremlin vicinity in the form of the majestic 16th century Annunciation Cathedral. The exit from Kremlin leads you to Bauman Street, a pedestrian only zone. This is one of the liveliest sections of Kazan.  Here, you can find a number souvenir shops, fashion boutiques, cafes and bars.

After your sightseeing, you can sit in one of the local cafes, relax, have a drink and watch the locals go about their daily lives. Another interesting part of the Kazan is the Old Tartar settlement, situated in the southern section of Vakhitovsky district.  The settlement area also encompasses the Lake Kaban shore, the Bulak Canal, the Central Market, Tukai Street, and the Yunusovskaya area. In this vicinity, you will see historical Tartar buildings and Islamic structures including one of the most exquisite mosques in the city, the 19th century Azimov.

Despite its colorful past, Kazan is a developing city that embraces modernization.  The city is becoming a sports and recreation powerhouse.  Here, you have plenty of opportunities to watch world-class sports competitions or enjoy leisure attractions.  It’s easy to find excitement and fun in the city as it houses two aqua parks,a  golf course, an amusement park, a go caring track, a paintball center and a ski resort.

When it comes to playing or watching a sports event, you can check out to places like Kazan Arena, Palace of water sports, Central Stadium and Tatneft Arena. In recent years, Kazan has been the hosts to major world sporting matches like junior ice hockey, European volleyball championships, UEFA Champions League and FIBA and FIVB World League championships

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