The capital of Tatarstan Republic is becoming more popular every coming year. It is connected not only with the high euro currency rate, but with the consecutive cultural development of the city after Summer Universiade in 2013. Nowadays it is easy to find dozens of places and events that are worth buying ticket for.
SOVIET LIFESTYLE MUSEUM
Nowadays the space of the city is formed by not indifferent people, who bring their ideas to life. This is how unique in its authenticity place – Soviet Lifestyle Museum – was created. Several enthusiasts with the support of Soviet musicians invented a time machine with the destination point in 70-90s of the previous century: the guitars of famous rock music players are hanging on the walls, and the stuff we all remember from our childhood is scattered all around – pins, crockery, chewing gums, posters, board games and many others. You should come here just to try on funny soviet sweaters and hats, dance to the music video clips of young Alla Pugacheva that are displayed on the screen among with concert shows of music band “Lyube”, and to talk to a very friendly museum owner, who, in case likes you, will pull out his special magic suitcase and tell a dozen of thrilling stories. The entrance fee is 200 Russian rubles, and afterwards you can touch, make photos and have fun with anything you like there.
As the majority of old Russian cities, Kazan has its own kremlin. There are several must-visit places there: the legendary Sujumbike Tower, which attracts tourists by the legend of the tragic death of the princess locked there, relatively new Kul-Sharif Mosque and Annunciation Cathedral. One should touch the first object and make a wish; in the second – in pleasant silence watch the Tatar Muslims pray, and in the third one – feel the dizzying scent of frankincense. All around the territory the Kazan souvenirs are being sold, and forge and potter’s studios are open, where, upon your wish, you can forge a sword or make a pot. By the way, right near the Sujumbike Tower there is a house of dumplings where you have a snack; local taxists and students often have lunch here – and this is the sign of the eatery quality. The access to the territory of Kremlin is 24-hours a day and free of charge.
One of the most beautiful historic places in modern Kazan – the Park of the State Museum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan Republic (former manor of general governor Sandetsky) – from July till August becomes a place of jazz festival holding: every Thursday in the inner square of the manor you can listen to the best Russian and foreign jazz musicians who play both in classic and vanguard styles. The festival stably has attracted attention of international audience since 2007 and has become a kind of calling card of the city. The concerts of the festival start at 7 pm, and the entrance to the Park of the State Museum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan Republic is open from 6.30 pm, the price for the tickets is from 600 to 1000 Russian rubles.
Every city has a place of which all the tourists are aware even if they have never been there. In Kazan this place is “Sol” bar. Everything is good in this place: moderate cozy interior in blue and green colors, with plenty multicolor carpets and plastered wooden furniture, plain like European but extremely delicious food, regular DJ sets at weekends and, finally, special cocktails. Special branch will help to cope with morning hunger – omelet with salmon or avocado toast with grilled tomato and lentil, glass of craft beer or shot with bugulma. After such a huge lunch – it’s time to plan evening dances.
The brand “Svyataya” was founded in 2013 by creative tandem of a photographer Rustem Garipov and stylist Regina Safina. The guys make amazing minimalistic dresses, funny sweatshirts with flamingo, T-shirts with the brand logo and even produce limited edition of shoes – something of all these can definitely substitute traditional souvenir. Here you can also find effortless floor-length dresses of pastel colors, common tops for office dress-code, and bright gold platform sneakers. The shop usually has seasonal sales and discounts, what lets you buy astonishing beautiful pink jersey dress for only two thousand Russian rubles instead of five. If you can’t find anything for you right at the moment, you can order clothes via showroom website next time, and use the privilege of free delivery.
THE AKSENOVA SQUARE
Every Wednesday of summer period the “Tatarkino” foundation organizes free film shows in cozy Kazan square park named after Vasiliy Aksenov, near the cinema “Mir”. The street cinema displays iconic Russian and Tatar films, festival hits and acute modern documentary. This is the ideal place for relaxing after a walk – you can watch underground movies with your friends, lying on the grass in the park and eating wild cherries or sandwich. The Kazan young people always recreates in the square park, so even if you travel alone you will definitely leave the city having a couple of new friends.
“RELAB” COCKTAIL BAR
The best cocktail bar in the city; only the most experienced barmen of the country, with various awards and marks of distinction, work here. The philosophy of the bar is defined by love to cocktails, art and friends. Here you can try salty popcorn-based cocktail, named after Chinese swimmer, and feminine drink based on elderberry liquor, and the never-out-of-trend classics – old-fashioned cocktail based on gin, whiskey or rum. The average price for the cocktail varies between 300 and 400 Russian rubles. As for the music, usually you can hear florid electro swing, pop rock and discreet lounge. But the most intriguing thing of this place is the opportunity to get the membership card to the private bar “Mr Willard” (the second and more elite place of Relab owners). You will not be able to get the invitation to the secret place intentionally, the only way is to be yourself, drink a lot and who knows what exactly will charm the barman.
SECRET BAR “MR WILLARD”
The owners of cocktail bar “Relab” opened a private bar for members only in the center of Kazan and named it after the first bartender who used the customized approach in providing services – but it’s better to ask barmen about this for details. If you are lucky to get the membership and find yourself in the club with traditional English atmosphere, you will never want to leave. Among the most obvious strengths of the place are: soft low lights and aristocratic interior, the best Bloody Mary in the country, the most tender rib eye steak with grilled corn and the attention of the personnel on an unachievable for average place level. You can spend here hours with your favorite book and sip americano in the day time, and in the evening – seize to the sin of gluttony. The only conditions to visit the place are – pre-call and membership card, and here you are, dreaming of your own Jeeves.
THE GALLERY OF MODERN ART
This is a popular in Kazan center of modern culture, where art albums and books are sold, exhibitions, creative gatherings, film shows, lectures, master classes, presentations, festivals and everything a young person needs to understand modern reality are held. Here the works of Kirill Garshin, Vladimir Tchigarev, Ilgizar Khasanov and other classicists of modern art were exhibited. There is no regular exposition in the gallery, so it’s better to call them in advance to know the program of the day or get to know it on the website of “Smena”. The book shop of the gallery deserves a separate half an hour stop: here you will easily find anything you can’t find anywhere else in Kazan (for example, the latest book of Lena Dunham).
BURGER HOUSE “TOP HOP”
It is just impossible not to visit American eatery with special juicy burgers and craft beer – your eyesight is caught by original rack for pretty bottles over the bar and genealogical beer tree – an option how to kill time if your friend is a bit late. The average price for burger and alcohol is 500-600 Russian rubles. A delicate moment that shows that the owners are experts in what they are doing is the presence of cucumber pickle on the menu; everyone knows that being treated is not less important than being fed.
THE EMBANKMENT OF THE RIVER KAZANKA
It is always nicer to wander near the water, so the local embankment is a perfect place for bicycle rides, roller skating and Tatar talks during lazy walks with a bottle of bugulmeister and fresh chak-chak. The embankment opens an amazing view on the Kazan Kremlin, Agricultural Palace (you will be surprised, but there is something worth seeing there), and the palace of weddings (and here as well). There are many beach restaurants here with hookah, music and food. The boardwalk of the Kazanka is not only a touristic route of Tatarstan capital city that makes you feel the rhythm of modern city, but also a rare opportunity to sit at the open water and meet the sunset.
FLEA MARKET “KNIZHKA”
Every big city has its flea market, Kazan is not an exception. Every Sunday in a small park on the cross of two noisy streets behind the lake Nizhniy Kaban a tiny town appears. It is populated with Kazan old ladies and gents who sell absolutely everything you can imagine: coins, books, vinyl records, CDs, antique things, military uniforms, semiprecious stones, family jewelry, kitchen utensils, objects of Soviet welfare, and lots of other various stuff like forks without prongs and dolls with torn heads. As always in such places you have to bargain and not really rely on any success – it often comes to happy-go-lucky passers-by, who find treasures for future stories in bunches of junk.
RESTAURANT AND BATHHOUSE “PIR & PAR”
The place that is located on the bank of the lake Nizhniy Kaban is worth to be mentioned first of all because there is hardly any other place in civilized Russia that will be a better example of combination of bathhouse (banya) and restaurant. Having visited all saunas, and there are four of them here (pay special attention to the one with salt wall) and having swum in the swimming pool with river view, the customer of “Pir & Par” has only one road left – to the restaurant. In moderate interior of Canadian cedar and bizarre lamps it is worth drinking a glass of red wine while waiting for the Tatar pasta with horsemeat (where else could you try this dish) or barbeque. The average bill in the restaurant is 1500 Russian rubles, the hour of sauna rent – 1000 Russian rubles, the possibility to feel yourself distinguished – is priceless.
CREATIVE LAB “UGOL”
In Kazan there are of course the Kazan Academic Russian Drama Theatre named after V.I.Kachalov, and the Kamal Tatar Academic Theatre, but they are too academic and you can easily find information on them in any guide. Creative lab “Ugol” was founded for those love modern play more than traditional drama theatre. The space of the place is transformer and ideally suits for the main styles of modern theatre – verbatim, documental theatre, site-specific, storytelling, theatre for kids. The stage contains several levels and easily transforms the lab from the auditorium into the place for performance, show, online excursion or lecture hall. Theatre staging from Moscow and Saint Petersburg are regularly brought here; including the play “Karina and Dron” by Dmitriy Volkostrelov, the Golden Mask award winner.