GRAD gallery invites you on its version of Grand Tour of Russia and its regions. Today, Tatars are Russia’s largest minority at about five million people. Although they are named after a Mongol tribe, the Tatars trace their origins to the ancient Bulgars. Volga Bulgaria was the first state formed in the region, created by Turkic tribes at the turn of 9th-10th centuries. In 922 Islam became an official religion and in 1236 Volga Bulgaria was merged into the Empire of Genghis Khan; after that it became a part of the Golden Horde and as a result of the Horde’s dissolution, the Kazan Khanate, a new state, emerged in 1438 and was incorporated into Russia in 1552.
Today, Tatarstan is famous for the unique combination of at least three types of cultural influence – Turkic, Slavic-Russian and Finno-Ugric with Tatars (53.2%), Russians (39.7%), Chuvash (3.1%) living together in the country where Tatar and Russian are official languages and Islam and Orthodox Christianity are the main religions. In the Kazan Kremlin, which stands proudly on the banks of the Kazanka River, the Islamic minarets and Orthodox domes proudly stand side-by-side.
Arrival to Kazan International airport (flight Aeroflot SU1278). Transfer to hotel Raymond. 22 January
Tour around the marvel of Kazan – the Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the main mosque of Tatarstan, Kul Sharif and the only branch of the Hermitage Museum in Russia, can be visited. Visit to Kazan National Gallery ‘Hazine’ to see the masterpieces of Tatar avant-garde from 1910-1930.
Lunch in a traditional Tatar restaurant (included in the price of the tour).
The tour ‘Treasures of Kazan’ will start with a visit to Peter and Paul’s cathedral and Bogorodinskii convent where we will see the miracle-making Icon of the Virgin Mary of Kazan – one of the most important Russian icons, returned to the city by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
We will also visit historic Tatar quarters, known as picturesque Tatar Sloboda, famous for historic mansions, mosques and old markets. It’s here that the Tatars were banished after Ivan the Terrible conquered the city. Free evening.
Trip to Russian Mont-Saint-Michel – island-town of Sviiazhsk which stands on a magical place where two rivers – the Sviiag and the Volga – meet. From here Ivan the Terrible started his invasion of Kazan. Here we will visit the 16th century Holy Trinity Church, Uspensky Monastery and so on. Return to Kazan.
Trip to Raifskii Monastery which is situated 35 km. from Kazan on the shores of a beautiful lake. Here one of the most sacred relics – a Georgian icon of the Virgin Mary is carefully preserved. The monastery is also famous for the smallest church in Europe which can only house seven parishioners.
Return to Kazan. Free evening.
Tour around one of the oldest universities in the Russian Federation – Kazan State University – highly acclaimed not only for its architecture but famous students, Mendeleev and Lenin.
Visit to Kazan Art Gallery – one of the largest regional art museums in the Russian Federation founded in 1958 on the basis of private collection of A. Likhachev. The Art Gallery now has more than 25,000 works of visual and applied art, including such masterpieces of Western-European art as Dürer and Canova and paintings by the Russian artists Repin, Kandinsky and Goncharova.
Boat tour down the Volga river.
Free evening in Kazan.
Visit to the National Museum of Tatarstan.
Tour around the ghost city of Bulgar, known in Russia as Bulgar-the-Great and in Persia – the Golden Throne. Bulgar is the northernmost example of medieval Muslim architecture which includes the Temple mosque of the 13th century – the only remaining religious building from the Early Golden Horde, as well as 14th century mausoleums.
Departure to the motherland of Kerensky and Lenin – Simbirsk.
Arrival to the hotel Rakurs.
Dinner (included in the price of the tour).
Tour around Simbirsk, which was founded in the 17th century on the shores of the Volga river and was almost conquered by the peasant rebels led by the famous Stenka Razin.
In 1924 Simbirsk was renamed to Ulyanovsk after the name of its best-known resident, Vladimir Lenin.
Departure to Kazan.
Final dinner in Kazan (included in the price of the tour).
Transfer to the airport for the flight departing Kazan at 10.55 am (SU1277).
A detailed programme of the tour, along with information on tickets and accommodation, is available via GRAD website.