Tatarstan, also called the Tatarstan Republic, is a part of the Russian Federation, located in the Volga Federal District. Historically, this land was fought over by Tatars, Russians, Mongols and Bulgarians. Street signs are in both Russian and Tatar, with Tatar having the top position.
The capital city of Tatarstan is Kazan, which was founded about the year 1000. Kazan’s kremlin, which still has walls from the 16th and 17th centuries, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the focal point of the city’s historic center. Annunciation Cathedral, built on the ruins of a mosque, was designed by Postnik Yakovlev, who also built St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Next to the cathedral is the Syuyumbike Tower, named for a legendary princess who defied Ivan the Terrible. Close by is the Hermitage Center, housed in a former training school for cadets. It shows a rotating series of exhibits from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Musa Dzhalil’s Monument is a dramatic bronze work commemorating the Tatar poet who was executed by the Nazis in 1944. The National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan is housed in an ornate 18th century building. Its exhibits include a gallery dedicated to the local artist and philosopher, Zarif. The most attractive of Kazan’s churches is the 18th century Peter and Paul Cathedral.
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