The capital of the Republic of Tatarstan – the city of Kazan – is certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in Russia. No wonder, it is considered the “Third Russian Capital” after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In the local dialect, the word “Kazan” means “cauldron” (or “pot”), which is quite understandable, since the city resembles a deep hollow or foundation pit. Kazan has a favorable geographical position – it is located near the Volga River – which has helped to forge sustainable trade relations since ancient times.
According to historians, the city is more than a thousand years old. In the mid-16th century, it became part of the Russian Empire, and the population has grown steadily since then. Currently, the population of Kazan is more than a million people (it is the 8th largest Russian city). It has well-developed chemical and aviation industries, as well as cultural and sports areas. Perhaps, the most popular sport in the city is football. Cultural life here is also vividly represented. You can visit the Academic Opera House, the Museum of Natural History and other interesting institutions. For more info, check the Amparus Tour official website.
And here are some curious facts about the city of Kazan that will not leave you indifferent! Let’s just dive right in.
1. Did you know that Kazan has its own Kremlin? Meanwhile, this magnificent biulding is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. The dragon Zilant (the English transcription of Russian Зилант) is the official symbol of Kazan, depicted on the city coat of arms. This emblem was adopted in 2004. Zilant is a legendary creature with the head of a dragon, the body of a bird, and the legs of a chicken; he got his name from the Tatar word elan-jilan (meaning snake). This name is associated with the foundation of Kazan at the place where, according to the legend, lived the dragon.
3. The island of Sviyazhsk is a fortified town located on an island (30 km from Kazan), built in 1551 by the troops of Ivan the Terrible in just 4 weeks.
4. Have you ever heard the Russian idiom “syrota kazanskaya” – literally translated as “orphan of Kazan” and meaning “sympathy seeker”? That’s what people in Russia usually say (ironically) of a person pretending to be poorer or humbler that he/she is. And here’s the historical background of this expression. Once, Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible decided to develop good relationship with wealthy and influential Tatar nobility – to this end, he started to give out rich gifts. Many of Tatars, in order to obtain more goods from the tsar, complained and told him fish stories about the incredible damage caused by the Russian troops…
5. Russian Empress Catherine II visited Kazan in 1767. Later, she noted in one of her letters: “This city is undeniably the first in Russia after Moscow… it can be seen in everything that Kazan is the capital of the great realm.”
6. The wife and muse of famous surrealist artist Salvador Dalí – Gala Dalí (known simply as Gala) – was born as Elena Ivanovna Diakonova in Kazan on August 26, 1894.
7. In Kazan, there is an unusual monument dedicated to the Kazan cat (take a look at the picture). The Kazan Cat is an aggregated image and the character of the local folklore since the 16th century. Historical legends claim that in the Middle Ages, there really existed a special cat breed of cats mouse trap.
8. Kazan is one of the Russian cities with most developed sport infrastructure. According to the survey, Russians consider Kazan as the country’s sports capital.
9. The famous Blue Lakes, located not far from the city, are a popular vacation spot both for residents and visitors of Kazan. These bodies of water are from 2 to 18 meters deep; they are filled with groundwater and do not freeze in winter time. The water in the Blue Lakes is crystal-clear and has a high salt content. Swimming in the Blue Lakes is not only pleasant, but really good for health!
10. A universal Temple for All Religions was created near Kazan by Ildar Khanov, a visionary artist, painter and sculptor. The construction was started in 1994 and continued until 2013. The Temple now serves as a cultural center and unites 16 different civilizations and religions.
11. Kazan is one of the oldest metropolises not only in Russia, but in the Eastern Europe as well – after Prague and Kiev.