A weekend trip to Tatarstan is a perfect way to see a different Russia, learn about Tatar culture and enjoy Tatar food. A premium train with first class carriages runs between Moscow and Kazan which allows you to travel with the maximum level of privacy and comfort.Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and one of the most beautiful cities in Russia, which markets itself as the Third Capital after Moscow and St Petersburg. In 2005 the city celebrated its millennium. Even though Kazan is only 900km from Moscow it has its own culture, cuisine and language. Tatarstan is predominantly Muslim but you will see a mix of mosques and Orthodox churches here, sometimes within a few metres of each other.Sviyazhsk was founded by Ivan the Terrible in 1551 as a fortress to serve as the base for the conquest of Kazan - then the capital of the Kazan Khanate. The island was visited by several tsars in addition to Ivan: Paul, Nicholas I and Alexander II.
ItineraryDay 1: SATURDAY | KAZANStop At: Kazan Kremlin, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Volga District08:00 | Arrival in Kazan. Transfer to the hotel. A driver will wait for you next to your carriage with a sign saying .10:00 | City tour of Kazan – on which you will visit the main sights of the city, including:Kazan Kremlin – the heart of Kazan and its main site. Although a fortress has stood here for centuries the present-day walls mainly date from the time of Ivan the Terrible. The Kazan Kremlin is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.Qol-Şärif Mosque – rebuilt in 1996, it is now the main mosque in Tatarstan. The mosque stands on the site where a mosque, said to be reminiscent of St Basil’s Cathedral, was destroyed by the troops of Ivan the Terrible in 1552.Duration: 1 hourStop At: Bauman Street (Kazansky Arbat), Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Volga DistrictUlitsa Baumana – the main pedestrian and most beautiful street in Kazan.Duration: 1 hourStop At: Cathedral of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Volga DistrictSt Peter and Paul’s Cathedral – one the most unusual and pretty cathedrals, not just in Kazan, but in the whole of Russia. Its beauty was noted by the Russian emperors who visited as well as by Aleksandr Pushkin and Alexandre Dumas. The famous opera singer Fyodor Shalyapin also sang here.Duration: 30 minutesStop At: Agricultural Palace, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Volga DistrictPalace of Agriculturalists – although it was only built relatively recently, this palace is now one of the most spectacular buildings in the city. The main structure of the palace incorporates elements of empire and classical architecture on a grand scale.Duration: 30 minutesStop At: Kazan Family Center/ Viewpoint, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Volga DistrictKazan Family Center – one of the more unusual buildings in Kazan built in the form of a kazan cauldron opposite the kremlin. From here you can enjoy stunning views of the historical centre of the city.Free time in Kazan – you can explore the city by yourself or book one of our optional additional excursions.Night in Kazan.Duration: 30 minutesNo meals included on this day.Accommodation included: Accommodation in a hotel of a category of your choice, central location, standard DBL rooms with breakfast.Day 2: SUNDAY | SVIYAZHSK ISLANDStop At: Island Sviyazhsk Museum, Sviyazhsk, Republic of Tatarstan, Volga DistrictBreakfast at your hotel. Transfer to Sviyazhsk Island. Your guide will wait for you in the lobby of your hotel with a sign saying . During the transfer you will stop on the way at the Temple of All Religions, a unique building comprising symbols of 16 world religions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the ancient Egyptian religion. The man behind this temple is Ildar Khanov who was convinced that if all religions of the world were united, there would be no more wars on earth. Distance: 65km Excursion around the island - the highlights of this tour include:Trinity Church – the first church to be built on the island; it dates from 1551 when Sviyazhsk itself was being constructed. It is the only wooden church on the island and the oldest surviving church on the Volga. It is believed that Ivan the Terrible himself prayed here several times.Bogoroditse-Uspensky Monastery – this monastery boasts unique architectural treasures which can be found nowhere else on the Volga. It has two ancient churches which date from the mid-16th century, soon after the construction of the original fortress here. These are St Nicholas' Church with its tall bell tower and the Dormition Cathedral. Inside the cathedral you can see frescoes with date from the time of Ivan the Terrible. They represent one of just two examples of 16th-century fresco painting in Russia and cover almost 1080 square metres.Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral – the largest cathedral on the island; it was built at the end of the 19th century in the Byzantine revival architectural style popular at the time in Russia. The external appearance of the cathedral has remained practically unchanged, resembling a multi-tier tower with flat spherical domes. Duration: 2½h | Transport: by a private car. Transfer back to Kazan. Distance: 65km Upon your return to Kazan you will have free time in the city. 19:00 | Transfer from your hotel to Kazan Railway Station. The driver will wait for you in the reception of your hotel. 19:45 | Departure on the Tatarstan premium night train to MoscowDuration: 11h25Duration: 3 hours 30 minutesMeals included: • BreakfastNo accommodation included on this day.