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Regions of Russia: Tatarstan

Tatarstan

Region center of Tatarstan is Kazan

Tatarstan is situated in the centre of the Russian Federation on the East-European Plain at the confluence of the two greatest rivers - the Volga and the Kama. The overall territory of the Republic is 67,836.2 sq. km. The Republic extends some 290 km north to south and 460 km west to east. Tatarstan has no borders with foreign states.


The territory of the Republic is a plain which lies in forest and forest-steppe zone with small hills on the right bank of the Volga and in the south-east of the Republic. 90 per cent of the territory is 200 m above sea level.

The major part of Tatarstan lies in the forest zone with only its south regions located in the forest-plain zone. However, today only a small part of Tatarstan is covered with forest (16.2 per cent of a total area). The Pre-Kama region is dominated by coniferous and mixed forests. Banks of the Volga, the Kama, the Vyatka and other rivers are covered with coniferous forests. Broad-leaved and birch and aspen forests prevail in the Pre-Volga and the Trans-Kama regions. As noted above, deciduous tree generally prevail in the Republic, i.e. nearly 85 per cent of a total forested area, which includes oak (27 per cent), lime (14 per cent), birch (11 per cent) and aspen (24 per cent). Among conifers, pine is the most frequent (nearly 12 per cent of a total forested area). Dry valleys and steppe areas still exist on non-cultivated hillsides in southern and south-eastern regions. Marshes prevail in the vicinity of shoals of water reservoirs and in forests.

Local fauna is represented by 430 species of vertebrates and hundreds of species of invertebrates.

The climate is moderate-continental. Droughts are occasional. Average temperature of the coldest month (January) is -13C, of the warmest (July) +19C. Annual average amount of precipitation is 460-520 mm. Vegetation period is about 170 days.

Sights

The historical citadel of the Kazan Kremlin is an archaeological monument that is unrivalled. The underlying strata, beginning at the threshold of the 10th and 11th centuries, range from 2 to 8 metres in thickness. In the oldest, northern part of the citadel, remains of stone and wooden public housing and utility buildings have been discovered, as well as everyday and religious artifacts belonging to the culture of the Golden Horde and the Kazan Khanate epochs.
  
Among the archaeologically exposed ancient monuments are two white-stone mausoleums of the Kazan khans, belonging to Mahmud (who ruled from 1445 until the beginning of 1460s) and Muhammad Amin (between 1487-1496 and 1502-1518). Also featured are the oldest stone wall dating from the 12th to 17th centuries and the remains of a public building from the first part of the 16th century.
  
This is an architectural complex with an extant 10th-century masonry fortification system, which is the only remaining evidence of the lost culture of the pre-Mongol and Golden Horde periods in Kazan. Foreign i coins and decorations of the 10th-11th centuries found in the Kremlin convincingly prove Kazan's thousand-year-old history as a military, governmental and commercial centre of the Middle Volga region.
  
The original structure and layout of the city remained essentially unchanged from the Bulgar period, when it embodied the Oriental features of the most north-eastern branch of early medieval Eastern architecture. In all subsequent periods this structure furnished the basis for continuous development of the city of Kazan.
  
The Kremlin zone forms an irregular polygon, elongated from north to south because of the site's topography. Since ancient times, the citadel has crowned the crest of an elevated terrace, which rises to a maximum of 28 metres, on the left bank of the Kazanka river. Historically, the citadel was surrounded by water on three sides: the Kazanka river, the Bulak channel and Kaban lake, and the Black, Baths and Unclean lakes.
  
Such a location made the Kremlin all but impregnable. Even in later years, the Kazan citadel, which was built to the highest standards of its time, kept its reputation as one of the finest in Russia.
  
The fortification complex of the Kazan Kremlin includes 16th to 18th century walls and towers as I well as the archaeological remains of defences dating back to the 10th and 16th centuries. The length of the external perimeter is 1,800 metres. The extant walls and other fortifications reflected the continuity of architectural traditions and were built in several stages.
  
According to scholars, the citadel (kerman) of the khan's epoch had at least four passage towers, the location of which remained unchanged. These are the Nur-Ali (Muraleeva or Tainitskaya) Tower, the Elbugin Gates (Voskresenskaya), Sboilivaya Gates (Dmitrovskaya) and Tyumenskaya (Preobrazhenskaya) Tower. The old towers representing elevated and fortified shooting spots with narrow loopholes were located along the perimeter of the fortress, separated by the distance of an arrow's flight.
  
The main Tatar fortress, which by the 15th century already occupied approximately half of the Kremlin's present day territory, was surrounded by a strong wall of an oak and pine framework filled with earth and stones, and in places, the thickness of the walls was as much as 6 to 7 metres. The modern-day territory of the Kremlin, as scholars now think, was divided in die times of the khans by the Tazik fortification trench (Tezitsky ravine). Walls with rectangular passage and defensive towers also surrounded the other half of the citadel. It is believed that in the same period, at least some of the towers were constructed of stone, perhaps with the assistance of Italian architects from the Lombard School, who at the end of the 15th century built the walls, towers and temples of the Moscow Kremlin.
  
From 1552 to 1556, the Pskov masons led by Postnik Yakovlev and Ivan Shiryai reconstructed the citadel's fortifications in the north and south, generally replicating the configuration and location of the former Tatar fortress, and occasionally incorporating some of its features into the new white-stone fortifications. The renewed citadel had a total of 13 towers, the names of which, starting from the south and moving clockwise, are: the Spasskaya Passage, the South-western Round, the Preobrazhenskaya Passage, the Pentahedral, the Nameless Round, the South-eastern Round, Tainitskaya, the Northern Round, the Voskresenskaya Passage, the North-eastern Round, the Dmitrovskaya Passage, the Consistory and the North-western Round.
  
In the 19th century, the Northern, North-eastern, Dmitrovskaya Passage, Pentahedral and North-western Towers were pulled down. The present-day Kremlin towers stand out of the walls, divided into 2 to 4 tiers with rectangular and arched shot holes. The upper tier is topped by rectangular dentils and covered by tented roofs. The towers are connected by walls, some of which are made of stone (mid-16th century), some are in brick and stone (late-16th century) and some only brick (18th-19th centuries). These are constructed of bricks in two tiers totaling 8 to 12 metres in height, topped by rectangular dentils on a 16th-17th century wall or dovetails with embrasure archlets in sections reconstructed in the 18th century. The battle passage has a timber roof.
Close to the complex of the Governor's Palace lies the complex of the Cathedral of the Annunciation. The cathedral is the largest building in the Kazan Kremlin and the oldest of the preserved stone constructions in Kazan. It was built in 1561-1562 by the Pskov architects Postnik Yakovlev and Ivan Shiryai in the north-eastern part of the Kremlin: their architectural heritage makes the Kazan Kremlin the most south-eastern point of the spread of the Pskov-Novgorod style monuments in Russia.
  
Originally, the temple was a five-domed, six-pillar, three-apse church with two chapels connected by a porch, which curved round the central tube-shaped space of the church. Built of white stone, the cathedral survived many fires and subsequent reconstructions. In 1694 the narrow windows of the cathedral were widened, and the interiors were decorated by frescoes. At the same time, a five-tier belfry was built on the south-western part of the cathedral porch. The domes, which earlier were helmet-shaped, were refurbished in 1736.
  
The inner columns of the Cathedral of the Annunciation are round, like those of the Cathedral of Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin; trumpet vaults were used instead of the usual pendentive passages to the main cupola - a device peculiar to Oriental architecture and unique in church-building of the period. The sanctuary part of the cathedral has preserved 16th-17th century interiors; the walls in the church and the refectory are painted in oils dating from the 19th century. 
  
The complex of the Cathedral of the Annunciation along with the Bishop's House and the Consistory gradually formed the power base of the Orthodox Church in the conquered Kazan province. The Bishop's House, built in 1829 on the site of the demolished 17th century house of the bishops of Kazan, served as the urban residence of the head of the Orthodox Church of the province. 

The Khan's Courtyard and the Governor's Palae

A street leads straight as an arrow from the Spasskaya Tower archway into the oldest and highest part of the Kazan Kremlin. It is here, on the ground of the former palace complex of the khans of Kazan, that the Govenor's palace has been situated since the middle of the 19th century. Today it serves as the official residence of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan.

In olden days, the Khan's courtyard dominated the Kazan skyline. Surrounded by several walls on different levels, the complex consisted of the monumental edifice of the Khan's palace with three tented cupolas and many adjacent pavilions, galleries and utility buildings. Here the Khan's Mosque with the Khan's tombs also stood. It is known that the Khan's courtyard also housed other tall stone mosques and mausoleums, stone baths and caravanserais. The Khan's Mosque, two white-stone mausoleums, the stone walls of the citadel, as well as wooden houses, towers and workshops can still be seen on the grounds of the Khan's palace as archaeological remains.

Despite all the destruction which befell the Kremlin in the wake of the fall of Kazan, separate buildings in the Khan's courtyard still existed within the citadel for a further century and a half. Some sections of this architectural complex became an organic part of the new appearance of the northern end of the Kremlin. The Governor's Palace, which until 1917 served as the official residence of the governor-general of the Kazan province, with its imperial quarters, was built in 1845-1848 from a design by the eminent architect K. A. Ton, creator of the Church of Christ the Saviour and the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

The Suyumbike Tower and the Palace Church, which is connected to the Governor's Palace by a walkway gallery, also form an integral part of the entire complex. Motifs of late Russian Classicism dominate the interior decorations of the palace, just as in many other Kazan buildings of the same epoch.
  
The Consistory
  
The Consistory closes the complex of the Cathedral of the Annunciation from the south, its south-eastern wing adjoining the Consistory Tower. The main house is located along the main street of the Kremlin in line with the Public Offices. The eastern wall of the court building includes remains of the 12th-13th century wall of white stone.
  
Despite all the destruction which befell the Kremlin in the wake of the fall of Kazan, separate buildings in the Khan's courtyard still existed within the citadel for a further century and a half. Some sections of this architectural complex became an organic part of the new appearance of the northern end of the Kremlin. The Governor's Palace, which until 1917 served as the official residence of the governor-general of the Kazan province, with its imperial quarters, was built in 1845-1848 from a design by the eminent architect K. A. Ton, creator of the Church of Christ the Saviour and the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.
  
The Suyumbike Tower and the Palace Church, which is connected to the Governor's Palace by a walkway gallery, also form an integral part of the entire complex. Motifs of late Russian Classicism dominate the interior decorations of the palace, just as in many other Kazan buildings of the same epoch.

Kazan

Kazan city is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. It was established in the 10th century on a high steep hill near the Volga and the Kama rivers. There have remained a lot of archeological and architectural monuments in memory of citys long history.

Up to our days there have remained the first (the 10th013th centuries), the second (he 14th-15th centuries) and the third (the 15th-16th centuries) Kazan gorodische ruins (an ancient fortress), discovered during the archeological findings. Cathedral architecture represents a combination of Muslim and orthodox traditions. There have remained a lot of last centuries valuable monuments.

The Kremlin is the centre of the city. Eastern architectural monuments are obvious in the Taynitskaya tower and the Syuyumbeki tower and in a being built mosque Kul-Sharif. After conquering of the city by Ivan the Terrible Pskovs architectures finished the building of the Kremlins walls and towers in the 17th century. In accordance with this, the Kremlin has gained its unique features and remarkable style.

The tower Syuyumbeki is regarded as one of the Kazans symbols. It is still unknown when it was erected. It attracts with grandeur of shapes and size. The tower majestically stands out against the citys architecture. Its spire is 59 meters high. Moreover, the hill it is situated on is 70 meters above the river Kazanka. It is often compared to the falling Pisan tower. Syuyumbeki is really falling down. As the tower is five-layers its falling down looks very spectacular.
The built in the 1840s on the place of the Kazan Khans gubernatorial palace is a most interesting attraction. It is built in a pseudo-Byzantine style, and the decoration combines both traditions of Russian classicism, old-Russian baroque and architecture.

There is the most ancient orthodox cathedral of the Central Volga region in Kazan. It is the cathedral of Annunciation, erected in the 16th century (the building was finished by the middle of the 19th century). Now it has the status of the main orthodox cathedral in Kazan.

Legendary, there was an eight-minarets mosque Kul-Sherif near the cathedral of Annunciation. Admittedly, it influenced the image of St.Basil cathedral in Moscow. The mosque was destroyed after Ivan the Terrible conquering of Kazan. Now there is being built a new mosque Kul-Sherif on the territory of the Kremlin.

The oldest street in the city, the street of Bauman, has become a walking area, a large trading and business centre. Here are located the most interesting clock with the figures written in Tatar words of Arabic style.

A s.c. cathedral complex, consisting of the Pokrovsky (the Protection of the Virgin) cathedral with a bell tower (1703) and the church of Nicholas Nissky (1885), is rather interesting. The Pokrovsky cathedral is performed in baroque style. It is embellished by a bulbous cupola a bright sample of slipwear. It was wide spread in the 13th century in Kazan, but all buildings with such decoration were destroyed. The Pokrovsky cathedral was the only flip to the memory of Kazan famous pottery.

The John the Forerunner monastery was erected in honour of Ivan the Terrible in 1564-1568. Its wooden buildings were burnt away and there were built stony constructions in 1662: a tree-tents cathedral of Kohn the Forerunner, the monasterys fence, the church of Ascension in the style of Moscow baroque and a bell tower.
A merchant Mikhlyaev made up his mind to erect the Peter and Paul cathedral in memory Peter the great staying in Kazan in 1723-1726. It is a rare and valuable baroque monument. It is decorated with magnificence ornament of herbs, branches and vine plaiting. The decoration is performed in bright colours and harmonically fulfills cathedrals gorgeous architecture. The Peter and Paul cathedral is a two-layer construction with fornications and a by-pass gallery, where lead two front stairs. It is one of the Kazans most beautiful buildings.

The house of Mikhlyaev, where Peter I stayed, is of great historical value itself. It is one of several civil buildings in Kazan, having remained since the 12th century.

There was erected a completely unique for Kazan building of the Noble Assembly in the period of 1845-1852. It looks like an Italian palazzo. The houses aristocratic preciosity has remained up to date.

An outstanding opera artist Fyodor Shalyapin was born in Kazan. Interestingly, he performed in a choir of St. Barbara church in youth. The church has remained and represents a bright sample of pseudo-Russian style. It was built in the late 18th century and restored in 1908.

Visiting Kazan, you will get acquainted with one of the largest cities on the Volga, without which the Volga region history is impossible. History and modernity, Muslim and orthodox cultures, west and east traditions have inosculated in Kazan. Kazan provides tourists with all kinds of comfortable rest. There are organized plenty of various excursions through the city; and trips on a motor ships down the Volga wont live untouched. Kazan opens its guest horizonless Volgian spaces and ancient streets coziness. Moreover, the entertainment infrastructure is well developed in the city, which will affect amateurs of high society rest.

 

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