Kazan A city with a thousand year history, incredible national flavor, elesh and top bars
The capital of Tatarstan is one of the oldest Russian cities. In 2005 Kazan celebrated 1000 years since it was founded. Kazan combines multiple cultures - Russian, Muslim and Asian. It's a port and a popular tourist spot at the same time. You can walk the historic center that has most of the city landmarks in half a day.
A standard weekend day tour usually includes a visit to Kremlin, a walk along the pedestrian Bauman street and pastry tasting. But of course, there is more than that.
A starting point for all the tours. Although historians still argue about its foundation date and some consider its 1000 year status exaggerated, the city is undoubtedly ancient. You can study its centuries-old history by exploring the Kremlin architectural complex. It has the architectural remnants dating back to XII, XIV, and XV centuries, later churches and buildings, and the white-stone Kremlin itself. Its construction began in 1556 by order of Ivan the Terrible.
Local guides often tell the city legend about the young tsarina Syuumbike who jumped from the top of the tower not to surrender to Ivan the Terrible. There is an observation deck on the left of the tower, but one can find better observation points. From the actual Kremlin hills, you can see the Kazanka river and the waterfront, the nearby Kasatkina street with its modern buildings featuring titans holding their walls, the eclectic “Farmer’s Palace” with a dumpy tree in the middle, disapproved by the locals and adored by the tourists.
A modern mosque built in the 1990s is a star of all the tourist photos. It is a functioning mosque on the territory of ancient Kremlin, a principal Juma mosque of the republic and the city. Inside you can take pictures and go for a guided tour. Capes to cover legs and shoulders can be borrowed at the entrance. The mosque is especially beautiful at night when its towers and windows are illuminated.
The principal and very colorful pedestrian street in the city center stretches from Tukay Square metro station up to Kazan Kremlin walls. Bauman street is an attraction for tourists and a nightmare for citizens. The street has it all – photos with pigeons, cartoonists, walking mascots and singing Peruvians in Indian costumes. There is also a point zero sign, a sculpture of a fat Kazan cat and a copy of Catherine the Great’s carriage, photographed by each and everyone. One of the popular spots is a Coyote Ugly bar, a world franchise, whose flyers would find you anywhere. The optical illusions museum is just as annoying and not worth the attention.
It is a good place for souvenir shopping. Get tyubeteykas [skullcaps] and leather chuvyaki slippers, hand-tailored and stored in a special case. Here you can find the biggest variety of magnets, mugs and other souvenirs made in China with the views of the Kremlin, the mosque, and president Putin wearing a tyubeteyka.
In the middle of the pedestrian street, there is a bell-tower of the Epiphany Cathedral from where you can observe the city’s major landmarks including the Kremlin complex. The famous Russian opera singer, Fyodor Shalyapin was baptized in this cathedral. Nearby on Bauman street, there is a monument and a hotel named after him. The best time to enjoy a stroll here is early morning when the street is clean and not crowded. Otherwise, for a peaceful walk choose one of the parallel streets, for example, Karl Marx street or Kremlevskaya street.
Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
One more place for those who enjoy church sightseeing is a modern Catholic cathedral on Ostrovskiy street. Sky-blue, laconic in design and absolutely stunning, it is located near the basketball arena of a local team Unix.
The city is located on both banks of the Kazanka river. The Kremlin waterfront was built in the historical part of the city and starts at the foot of the Kazan Kremlin. Its length is about one and a half kilometers. The waterfront has pedestrian paths, a wide lane for bikes and rollerbladers, pavilions with bars, cafes and rental spots, designed in one style. You can find the Kremlin waterfront map on the official website.
With more than 50 attractions, Kazan water park is one of the world’s largest. Besides the waterpark, Riviera has its own beach, restaurants, concert venue and year-round 65 meter high Ferris wheel with a panoramic view of the city. Every cabin is dedicated to world megapolises – Moscow, Paris, London or Rome.
Nizhny Kaban Lake
In fact, Kaban is a whole system of lakes, but normally what is meant by this word is the lower part near the Tatar State Academic Theater of Galiasgar Kamal and the Old Tatar Sloboda, a neighborhood where Tatars settled originally. Now it is a picturesque area with old wooden houses and a preserved mosque. In the summertime, you can rent a catamaran, feed local ducks or just relax on a bench next to the parapet. Nothing special, but so lovely and meditative.
Black Lake Park
2015 was proclaimed a year of parks and squares, and the Black Lake got transformed shortly after. The park is divided into several areas such as the lake itself with amphitheaters, restaurants, and cafes; the central square; the grove with the Arch of the Lovers noted for its acoustic effect and a bunch of lovers hanging out nearby. The renovation also revived Uritskiy Park located in the city suburb. Kazan's central Park is Gorky Park. However, it's only worth visiting if you are interested in taking long walks, seeing the fountains and exploring the art object «Love/Mekhebbet», another popular photo location.
Center of Modern Culture SMENA
An independent space with regular lectures, screenings, exhibitions, book festivals and techno parties. There is a “Divan” [Sofa] café with Tatar raf and a vinyl shop.
Visit the best party street Profsoyuznaya (parallel to Bauman street) for some drinks and dancing.
Address: Profsoyuznaya str, 22
Phone: +7 (843) 258–62–82
Open hours: 11:00–03:00, weekend — 11:00–06:00
Although the space is tiny, it is a popular hangout spot for progressive young folks. Here bartenders mix Bugulma-based cocktails without a tint of snobbery. An equivalent of strong German herbal cocktails, Bugulma is a local spirit and a national pride of Tatarstan along with pastries, Kremlin and Rustam Minnikhanov.
Address: Profsoyuznaya str, 3
Phone: +7 (905) 315–23–11
open hours: 14:00–01:00, weekend — 14:00–06:00
This kind of a “drink and go” venue is a dive bar that serves horseradish vodka with cranberry, limoncello, pepper vodka and other infusions perfect for finishing up bar hopping. Enjoy historical brick walls, vaulted ceilings and the Soviet atmosphere.
One of the best cocktail bars in the city and the starting place for many bartenders who later on opened up new local businesses. GQ magazine has rated the place in top 10 Russian bars.
The local team got famous for their cocktail menu inspired by the game Imaginarium. A guest chooses his drink based on associations with pictures on cards. So there is a chance you will get to taste air after a thunderstorm or a coniferous forest. Spot a sign on a bar wall that says «A person is never lonely in More [A person is never lonely in the sea]». Full house during weekends justifies this statement.
Restaurants and Сafes
In Kazan, you should definitely try echpochmak and elesh, shortcrust and yeast dough pastries with meat and potato. Here they are sold in food kiosks and served at panoramic restaurants.
Mellow Beer & Wine
address: Profsoyuznaya str, 10/14
phone: +7 (843) 292–42–20
open hours: 12:00–00:00, weekend — 12:00–02:00
The first Kazan wine and beer gastro bar located in the late XVIII century building. Besides alcohol and seven-meter tall ceilings, Mellow offers Scandinavian open smorrebrods with sardines and walnuts; tartar mussels and tom yum, even though Kazan is way far from the sea.
phone: +7 (843) 260–20–20
open hours: 08:00–23:00
Two small local chain coffee shops are situated on both sides of the Kazanka river, one is on Universitetskaya street in the city center, another one - hidden in back streets of the other bank. They are famous for bottled cascara soda and coffee made with house-roasted coffee beans.
A tiny spot on Profsoyuznaya with mono cuisine focused on variations of pho. Traditional pho bo and chef spicy version are served in a paper cup. Try it with Vietnamese coffee.
The name of this place is a Tatar gentle variant of the word «grandma». The spot is located in front of the Black Lake Park and serves house desserts and croissants which locals claim to be among the best in town.
address: Teatralnaya str, 1/27
phone: +7 (843) 240–70–91
This restaurant has an entrance fee and serves dishes at cost price. The fee depends on the time of the day (11:00-16:00 — 100 rubles, 16:00-18:00 — 200 rubles, 18:00-02:00 — 350 rubles).
With a summer terrace in Lyadskiy Garden, this restaurant offers seafood-based European cuisine. We recommend to order lemonade and enjoy the park view.
Come here to try Kystybay, another type of Tatar fast food. Choose the classic version - mashed potatoes wrapped in thin bread - or kystybay with salmon, sweet cottage cheese, two meatloaves or vegetables. Everything is halal.
Tatar McDonalds has several street kiosks and a cafe in Kremlevskaya street. Here you can try all kinds of the Tatar fast food: fried echpochmak, elesh, gubadiya, chak-chak and black kystyburger with beef.
A legendary cafe on Bauman street with chak-chak, gubadiya, triangle pastries, basic salads and simple main courses.
The city has an extensive experience hosting international sports competitions, thus the system of public transport has been made efficient and user-friendly. Most buses and trolleybuses have lists of stops in Russian and English. Stops in buses and trolleybuses are written in both Russian and English and are announced in three languages – Russian, Tatar and English.
Many bus stops are equipped with information displays showing arrival times. There is only one metro line, yet it is quite convenient. 10 stations cover most of the city, so whether you are near Kremlin or Universiade Village, the subway is always nearby.
Trams in Kazan are not popular and not well-developed, there are only 5 routes and tram rails only go through suburbs. Two of them, №5 and 6 will take you directly to the stadium. Other ways to get to Kazan Arena is trolleybus №7 and a few buses that stop at «Football stadium Kazan Arena» (5-minute walk to the stadium) or «Gavrilov street» (10-minute walk).
Information and tourist center
address: Baumana str, 49
phone: +7 (843) 270–32–70
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