Kazan has undergone many different transformations throughout the centuries, with a heritage marked by feuding empires, bloody battles and the Soviet regime. It has also evolved over time to become a cultured, modern city, striving towards an even brighter future. A Tatar-Mongol stronghold and a vibrant artsy hub, step back in time to see why this World Cup host city is one of Russia‘s brightest gems.
The city established its importance in the region by becoming a significant Volga trade town. While it is disputed as to whether the Volgar-Tatars or the Golden Horde established Kazan, the city’s official birthdate is 1005. This is before a Mongol army defeated the Volgars as the Golden Horde gained territory in the 13th century and grew to become the largest Mongol-Turkic empire of medieval times.
Khanate of Kazan
In 1552 Ivan the Terrible declared war on Kazan, and brought the city into the realm of the Russian Empire. In doing so he destroyed the city, burning it almost to the ground, including the original Kul Sherif Mosque and other significant Islamic and Tatar buildings. He also killed the majority of Kazan’s residents and set 800 odd slaves free. In doing so he abolished the region’s practice of slavery forever. He sent Tatars away to settlements and ordered the city’s Kremlin to be built on the grounds of the Khan’s castle. World Heritage listed, it is now the only surviving Tatar fortress in the world.
Times of Trouble
Kazan tried to declare independence from Russia in 1612 during the Times of Trouble. Marked by a widespread famine that killed around one third of the Russian population, war and occupation, the Times of Trouble was the interim between the end of the Rurik Dynasty in 1598 and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. Kazan’s move for independence however, was squashed by the army of Minin, a merchant from Nizhny Novgorod, who defended Russia against Poland at the start of the 17th century, and so tensions between state and the Tatars and Mongol-Turks of Kazan remained.
Kazan’s golden age
Kazan finally found peace under their reign of Catherine the Great, from 1762. During this period, and into the 19th century, Tatar culture has somewhat of a revival period. By royal decree, the city was permitted to build Islamic places of worship and the residents were encouraged to actively foster Tatar traditions and community. This was also the period when many of Kazan’s impressive churches were built and universities were created.
With the collapse of the USSR, the union’s states were restructured. While Tatarstan was considered an autonomous Soviet state, at the end of the USSR, the Republic of Tatarstan was formed. The new state solidified its sovereignty by establishing its own independent government, constitution and capital, Kazan. The republic regained much of the Tatar cultural heritage repressed during Soviet times, which cemented Kazan as Russia’s Tatar cultural core.
Russia’s sporting capital
Russia announced Kazan as its sporting capital in 2009, a label the city has embraced ever since. The slick Kazan Arena was completed in 2013, designed by the same team who designed the Sochi Olympic Stadium. Home stadium for local sporting champs Kazan FC , Kazan Arena has hosted the 2013 Summer World University Games, the 2014 World Fencing Championships and the 2015 World Aquatics Championships. As a 2018 World Cup host city, this state-of-the-art sports complex is set to hold some of the most exciting matches of the competition.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.