Sviyazhsk, Russia

Opposite the village of Vasilyevo, on the right bank of the Volga, on a small island is the ancient village of Sviyazhsk.. Initially, it stood on Mount Kruglya at the mouth of the Sviyaga River, but after the launch of the Kuibyshev hydroelectric power station, the area was flooded and the mountain turned into an island. In the 16th century, the territory of present-day Sviyazhsk was located near the borders of the Kazan Khanate, which Ivan the Terrible tried to conquer. The favorable position of the settlement attracted the attention of the king and in 1551 he ordered the construction of a fortress here. The fortress was rafted piece by piece down the Volga from the village of Myshkin (near Uglich). From the moment the fortifications appeared, Sviyazhsk became a stronghold for the deployment of Ivan the Terrible’s troops. After the capture of Kazan, Sviyazhsk was called the “conqueror of Kazan.” Nowadays, the island where the village stands can be reached both by river transport and by a recently built dam. In the western part of the village, male Dormition-Bogoroditsky Monastery, built by Postnik Yakovlev and famous for the magnificent frescoes of the mid-16th century of the Assumption Cathedral, and the convent of St. John the Baptist, the complex of buildings of which includes the oldest church of Tatarstan. Currently, the John the Baptist Monastery has been abolished. On its territory you can see three churches – the wooden Trinity Church, which was erected together with the Sviyazhsk fortress in 1551, the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh of the early 17th century, the Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, the Chapel of the Royal Passion-Bearers, cells and the body of the abbess. The Trinity Church is the oldest building in Sviyazhsk and Tatarstan and the only wooden church in the modern republic. It was rebuilt more than once, but still retained common features. In addition to the monasteries, the historical buildings of the 19th – early 20th centuries have been preserved in the village, since the period of industrialization bypassed Sviyazhsk. Outside the walls of the monastery complexes in Sviyazhsk, you can see only one surviving church – the Church of Constantine and Helena of the 18th century. It houses the expositions of the Sviyazhsk Museum of Architecture and Art, which contains works of ancient Russian art and church items. In the 17th century, opposite the Sviyazhsk fortress, Makaryevskaya desert, which exists to this day on one of the islands of the Volga riverbed. The monastic ensemble includes the Church of the Ascension of the Lord (1829) and the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (1866).

South of Sviyazhsk, on the right bank of the Volga, at the mouth of the Sviyaga River in the village of Savino, there is a unique ski sports and recreation complex “Kazan”. The complex was opened in 2004 and is famous for the fact that the duration of the ski season here is a month longer than at other bases in Tatarstan, it lasts from early December to late March. In addition, the complex is considered one of the most equipped and modern ski resorts in the non-Caucasian part of Russia.. The resort itself operates all year round. In winter, vacationers can choose from 4 trails of various difficulty levels, from 850 m to 1600 m in length and up to 165 m in elevation, and a children’s training slope “Snow Town”. Three of them are illuminated at night. Three chair lifts deliver vacationers to the top of the slopes, and a baby lift to the top of the children’s training slope. The complex has a developed infrastructure, there is a ski school with experienced instructors, equipment rental, guest houses with saunas, restaurants, cafes and shops. In summer, the resort becomes a great place to relax on the banks of the river, surrounded by picturesque nature. Here you can rent roller skates, bicycles, boats and other outdoor equipment. In addition, in the vicinity of the resort there are many attractions, Kazan.

Not far from here, on the border with the Republic of Mari El, on the left bank of the Volga River, stands one of the “greenest” cities of Tatarstan – Zelenodolsk. Here you can have a great rest, because there are many parks in the city, and birch and pine groves stretch in its vicinity. Zelenodolsk Museum of Folk Art and Ethnography. The museum introduces visitors to the main folk crafts of Tatarstan – jewelry, ceramics, leather mosaics, gold embroidery, weaving, carving and painting on wood. Here you can see collections of jewelry of the 19th – 20th centuries, wooden objects of the 19th – 20th centuries, ancient and modern shoes “mosaic on the skin”, Bulgarian, Pestrechinsky and modern ceramics, Russian and Tatar clothes, decorated with satin stitch embroidery, tambour, cross, beads and chenille, and a collection of parish books of the Sviyazhsky district of the 19th – 20th centuries. In Zelenodolsk, on the basis of imported mineral waters, the sanatorium-preventorium “Volga” operates. The sanatorium is located in a park area among rich vegetation, due to which the air here is saturated with oxygen. Mineral waters and favorable environmental conditions help in the prevention of diseases of the nervous system, digestive organs, respiratory organs, musculoskeletal system, circulatory system and female genital organs. The sanatorium offers various types of baths and massages, paraffin therapy, ozokerite therapy, mud therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, laser therapy, aerophytotherapy, ozone therapy, hirudotherapy, halochamber and inhalations.

According to CACHEDHEALTH, 18 km northeast of Zelenodolsk is the Raifsky site of the Volga-Kama State Natural Biosphere Reserve. The reserve was established in 1960 to protect the nature of the Middle Volga region. Today it consists of two plots with a total area of 10.1 thousand hectares. The second section – Saralovsky – is located 60 km south of Kazan at the mouth of the Kama River in the Lishevsky region of the republic. A flat relief prevails on the territory of the reserve, the highest point – Bald Mountain – has a height of 144 m. The Sumka River flows through the Raifa section. In addition, there are lakes and swamps on the Raifa site. The most extensive, deepest and full-flowing lake not only in this part of the reserve, but in the entire reserve as a whole is Raifa Lake.

More than half of the plant species of Tatarstan are found on the territory of the Volga-Kama Reserve. Most of it is covered with forests, in the forest stand of which pine predominates. Fir, spruce, birch, linden and oak also grow in the forests. The southern border of spruce and fir distribution in the European part of Russia passes through the reserve and the northern border of the oak distribution. 55 species of mammals live in the local forests. 195 species of birds have been identified on the territory of the reserve. Of the taiga birds, there are capercaillie, hazel grouse, upland owl, long-tailed owl, deaf cuckoo, three-toed woodpecker, song thrush, bullfinch and nutcracker; birds – quail, gray partridge, common kestrel, field harrier, roller roll, hoopoe, field lark, meadow coin and wheatear. On the territory of the reserve there are 9 species of birds listed in the Red Book of Russia: white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, imperial eagle, short-toed eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon, saker falcon, black stork and black-headed gull.

In terms of tourism, the most interesting is the Raifa section of the reserve. Here in the village of Sadovy there is an information center of the reserve. On the territory of the Raifa site there is a dendrological garden of the Raifa forestry. The garden was founded in 1921 on the initiative of the Kazan State University. Today, about 500 species of trees and shrubs from North America, Europe and Asia are represented in the arboretum.

Sviyazhsk, Russia