The Republic of Tatarstan is a part of the Volga Federal District. Its area is 68 thousand sq. km, its population — 3.7 million. Both the Christianity and the Islam are confessed in the territory of the republic.
The capital of the republic is the city of Kazan, situated in the Moscow time zone 797 km away from Moscow.
The main rivers of the republic are the Volga and the Kama.
The climate is moderately continental, very dry, with a warm summer and not very cold winter. The average temperature of January is —160, the average temperature of July — +250.
The main tourist route is Zhemchuzhnoye Ozherelye Tatarstana (Pearl Necklace of Tatarstan). It consists of a large ring and a small ring. The small ring route runs around Kazan, over the Arsk District (the household life, traditions and customs of the Tatars are preserved), the Laishevsk District (Russian culture monuments, the khorovod (circle-dance) festival in the village of Russkoye Nikolskoye), the Verkhneuslonsk District (attracts those fond of mountain skiing), the Pestrechinsk and the Zelenodarsk Districts. The large ring offers a more extensive journey over centers of cultural and historical heritage. You will visit excavations of ancient hill forts, museums, and unique natural territories. The large ring comprises the Volzhsko-Kamskiy reserve, the Spasskiy wildlife preserve, and the Chistye Luga (Clean Meadows) reserve.
To animal lovers of interest will be the Kazan Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which is among the oldest in Europe. It was opened in 1806, earlier than zoos in London, Berlin and Moscow. 145 animal species are in its collection, including those entered into the Red Book.
Nature lovers should also visit the Volzhsko-Kamskiy Biosphere Reserve. Its area amounts to 10 thousand hectares. 90% of its territory is covered with forests, in which 200-300-year-old pine-trees, firs, and oaks have survived. The reserve is rich in ornitofauna; the number of birds’ species exceeds 200, of which 8 are considered rare and endangered species; many rare reptiles are available as well. A monastery architectural ensemble has survived on the shore of Lake Raifskoye, with pine-trees underlining its beauty.
Those taking interest in religious architecture and culture will found a very rich choice of monuments in the republic: Sviyazhsk Svyato-Uspenskiy Monastery, Kazansko-Bogoroditsky Monastery, the history of which is linked with the Kazan icon of Mother of God, Svyato-Vvedenskiy Monastery, to erection of which cessation of plague epidemic is attributed, and others.
In addition to the tourist «compulsory programme» (the Kazan Kremlin, the Kazan icon of Mother of God, the Tatar Sabantuy festival), there are places of which local inhabitants know more than tourist guides. For example, the Arch of the Enamoured, under which two people can hear each other even if they are standing at the opposite ends of the arch and whispering. It is believed that a confession of love made there would tie the two hearts with each other forever. Or the Syuyumbike Tower, one of the world’s falling towers, keeping the legend of a Kazan tsarina Syuyumbike, who jumped down from the tower to avoid marriage to Ivan the Terrible. It is believed that if you touch the wall of the tower with your forehead and make a wish, it will come true. If you dream of travels, you should sit for a while in the bronze carriage and imagine the place where you want to go. Those fond of street art will be attracted by the monument to Fyodor Shalyapin, where musicians are gathering and playing for by-passers; and if you touch the monument’s left shoe (doing it in any event at sunset), it would bring you success in the art of signing.
If you prefer small towns, you should visit Elabuga in any event. This town seems to consist solely of old monuments and sights. These are the Elabuzhskoye Gorodishche (Elabuga Hill Fort) historical and archeological complex, the square of the 1000th anniversary of Elabuga, the memorial complex of the poetess Tsvetayeva, the house museum of the painter Shishkin, the Bekhterev museum of local medicine, etc. The most unusual of them is the Traktir (Tavern) museum theatre, where you can have a meal in accordance with ancient customs.
Each year at the end of summer, the Sotvorenie Mira («The Creation») musical festival is held in Kazan. President of the festival is Andrey Makarevich, the anchorpersons are Seva Novgorodtsev and Kseniya Strizh. The concept of the festival is «music against war». Musicians from various countries, relations between some of which, such as Serbia and Croatia or Palestine and Israel, are far from being friendly, meet each other at the stage. Many multi-ethnical groups participate in the festival.
For those who are interested in the Muslim tradition and the Muslim art, the Zolotoy Minbar (Gold Minbar) festival of the Muslim cinema is held in Kazan at the end of September each year. At the festival, prizes are awarded for the best dramatic film, for the best director’s work, and so on. Special awards are also granted — the award of the Russia’s Muftis Council, the award of the Islamic World TV broadcasting corporation for contribution to Islamic education.
For more detailed information on the Republic, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.