Unlike other Russian cities, Kazan has a long history that dates back to at least a millennium. In 1000 AD Kazan was founded in the Volga Bulgaria, and soon became the capital of the region. Then, it was incorporated by the Golden Horde to become an independent khanate in 1438. The city later collapsed under the troops of Ivan the Terrible, that gave a new, Russian, face to the ancient city.
Why you should stop there
Kazan is a vibrant city, full of young people, bars, cafés and cultural attractions. It is the capital of the Tatar Authonomous Republic and an important University center, that had among its scholars Lev Tolstoy and Lenin. Its inhabitants are Tatars and Russians, making Kazan a multi-ethnic city, where Mosques and Orthodox Churches coexist with each others and form a dynamic society of perfectly integrated ethnic groups and religions.
UTC +3 (= Moscow time)
What to see
The Kremlin. The beautiful white Kremlin alone is worth the trip here. It is part of the UNESCO world heritage and it contains both the main Mosque and the Cathedral of Kazan. In addition, you will have an amazing view of the surroundings of the city. At the opposite site of the hill, take a look at the modern and extravagant Agricultural Palace, with its strange tree at the entrance.
The Ethnographic Museum. We don’t usually suggest museums, but this one, in front of the Kremlin’s entrance, is interesting to understand the history of Kazan and its multi-ethnic population.
Ulitsa Baumana. It is the equivalent of Moscow’s Arbat, a long, pleasant street full of restaurants, shops and bars that is the center of the city’s nightlife.
Okay places: Backpack Hostel Kazan (ul. Baumana 74, less than 10 EUR/night) ; Wings Hostel (ul. Chernyshevskogo 16, less than 10 EUR/night) ; Kazanskoe Podvorye (ul. Batman 68, about 10 EUR/night).