Historical Ensembles and Complexes

Below is a summary of immovable cultural and historic values (city ensembles, monuments, complexes) that are well-known outside the Republic and have utmost importance for studying economic and intellectual life and culture of the multi-ethnic republic.

City Ensemble of Kazan, the 10th-20th Centuries
City Ensemble of Yelabuga
City Ensemble of Chistopol, the 19th-20th Centuries
Town Ensemble of Sviyazhsk, the 19th-20th Centuries. Sviyazhsk Town, Zelenodolsk District
Ensemble of Raifsky Monastery (Desert), the 17th-19th Centuries. Raifa Village, Zelenodolsk District
Bolgar Architectural and Archaeological Complex, Bolgary Village, Spassky District
Bilyar Historical, Archaeological and Natural Complex, Bilyarsk Village and Surroundings, Alexeevsk District

City Ensemble of Kazan, the 10th-20th Centuries

The territory of the historical centre (1480 ha) that constitutes 5% of the today's city preserves the historically formed building system of the period before the October Revolution of 1917, with scattered present-day buildings, which forms an exquisitely integral ensemble. An idea of its appearance in the 12th - the early 16th centuries is given by archaeological researches, descriptions of coevals and analogies with extant medieval monuments and traditional types of Tatar wooden folk architecture.

All extant architectural monuments of the historical centre of Kazan date from the period after the Russian conquest of the Kazan Khanate. The most ancient ones go back to the second half of the 16th century.

In the central part, a regular-type planning structure has been retained as developed in 1768 by architect V.I.Kaftyrev in accordance with the project of the "Building Commission", nowadays forming the basis of the valued city planing ensembles and architectural complexes, while in certain locations the pre-regular planning of architectural value has survived. Most streets have the width of 10 sazhens (21,3 m) - the standard established back in the 18th century - with relatively low buildings. The bulk of civil and religious buildings and fortifications qualified as architectural monuments, as well as architectural complexes and ensembles of the 16th-19th centuries distinguished by their planning, style and scale, are still standing.

Of great interest are the ordinary quarters forming the specific environment of the city centre and backing the significance of architectural monuments. City skyline and panorama are quite expressive, composition links between architectural dominants are preserved along with view corridors. The architecture of historical buildings is indicative of mutual influence and penetration of Tatar and Russian cultures, professional and folk work, which attaches originality to the historical centre. Well-preserved is the historical landscape, peculiar relief of the centre, city water system (the Kazanka River, the Bulak Canal, the lakes of Upper, Middle and Lower Kaban), archaeological cultural layer.

Kazan, the Bulak Canal
The border line of the historical centre is very close to Kazan city limits of 1890 with the area of 1480 ha. It covers the territory of the cape between the rivers Volga and Kazanka, extends from the bank of the Kazanka along Arsk Cemetery on Vishnevsky Street, Esperanto Street, Pavlyukhin Street, Vakhitov Square, covers the Old Tatar Cemetery and ends at the Volga embankment (Vakhitovsky District and partly Privolzhsky District). Moreover, some 374 ha of historical building system has been preserved in Kirovsky and Moskovsky Districts (former Admiralteyskaya (Admiralty) Settlement, Porokhovaya (Powder) Settlement, Yagodnaya (Berries') Settlement, Kozya (Goats') Settlement) and the site of the former "Bishop's Country-House".

Kazan treasures over 1600 monuments of archaeology, history, city planning, architecture and monumental art, of which 73(140) are under the state protection of federal (All-Russian) authorities, 276(283) are protected by republic's (Republic of Tatarstan) authorities and 76(84) are protected by local (municipal) authorities. 646(664) items are included in "The List of Newly Revealed Relics of Historical, Scientific, Artistic or Other Cultural Significance" and are subject to protection in accordance with the legislation on preservation and utilisation of historical and cultural monuments, whereas the actual number of the relics under protection reaches 2000, because many monuments consist of separate buildings. The architectural monuments represents, though non-uniformly, all construction epochs and artistic styles, all city development periods since the latter half of the 16th century.

Kazan. Peter and Paul Cathedral (1723-1726)
The monuments are diverse in type, varying from large ensembles and complexes to squares, streets, relics of old planning and building system, palaces, mansions and dwelling-houses, public and religious buildings (mosques, medresehs, Orthodox churches, monasteries, Roman-Catholic churches, synagogues, etc), fortifications and production facilities, monuments, fences, etc. Also preserved are the buildings, facilities and memorial places associated with the most important historic events in the people's life, development of the society and the state, science and technology, life of outstanding politicians, statesmen, military leaders, personalities of science, literature and arts, their graves.

The history of Kazan remembers the names of Gavrila Derzhavin, Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Gabdulla Tukay, Shigabetdin Marjani, Kayum Nasyri, Nikolai Lobachevsky, Karl Fuks, Alexander Butlerov, Fyodor Chaliapin, Vasily Kachalov, G. Iskhaki, M. Maksudi, Mousa Jalil and many others.

The most significant historical and cultural complexes of Kazan are as follows:

The Kazan Kremlin (the 10th-19th centuries). A unique complex (13 ha) of archaeological, historical and architectural monuments that emerged and have been functioning since its foundation in the 12th century and to the present day. It incorporates the archaeological relics of the first (the 12th -13th centuries), the second (the 14th -15th centuries) and the third (the 15th -16th centuries) Kazan sites, stone-and-brick Kremlin (the 16th -18th centuries) and a number of buildings and structures of the 16th -19th centuries of high historical and cultural significance, which associated with various historic events in the city life.

Kazan University
Kazan University (the 19th century). The core of the university complex represents an integral architectural ensemble created in the Russian classicism style in the 20s-30s of the 19th century by architects P.G.Pyatnitsky and M.P.Korinfsky. Owing to its high artistic merits, unity of style and composition, significance for city planning, the university ensemble ranks among the most notable monuments of the Russian architecture.

The Old Tatar Settlement (the 18th - 20th centuries). In the past, the territory in the lower town beyond the Bulak Canal was historically inhabited by the Tatars. The development in that part of the city started as early as the 15th -16th centuries. The general architectural appearance of the Settlement (152 ha) is mostly formed by buildings of the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, the locality comprising the most typical buildings, such as rich mansions of the Tatar bourgeoisie, houses and farmsteads of the well-off and middle strata, intelligentsia and clergy, public buildings, mosques, medresehs, shops, production facilities.

City Ensemble of Yelabuga

The city ensemble (131 ha) comprises religious, residential, civic, public, industrial and trading buildings and structures.

Yelabuga. State Teachers' Training Institute. Built in 1903
In the south-west outskirts of the city lies Elabuzhskoye (Chertovo) site, a fortified medieval settlement of the Bulgars, Kazan Tatars (the 10th century -1547) with the total area of 30 ha and traces of three rows of fortifications. In its territory, still standing are the ruins of a stone square monumental edifice with round tower built for both defensive and religious purposes. There in 1552, after conquest of Kazan, the Troitsky (Trinity) Monastery was erected laying the foundation of the present-day city of Alabuga-Yelabuga. As early as the 17th century, the Troitsky Monastery was named the Trekhsvyatsky (Thrice-Holy) Monastery, "which is on Yelabuga", and Tanaika and Trekhsvyatskoye villages, Tikhie and Svinye hills were attached to it. In 1613, the Trekhsvyatsky Monastery moved down from Yelabuzsky Hill to the bank of the Tanaika River, and in 1707 the village and the monastery were ramparted, i.e. transformed into a town. In 1780, based on the Decree of Catherine II, Trekhsvyatskoye village became a chief town of uyezd (district) and adopted new name of Yelabuga.

In the city neighbourhood, the Ananyinsky burial-ground (the 8th - 3d centuries B.C.) is located, which was discovered in 1855 and initiated the identification of a whole epoch, the so-called "Ananyinsky culture". Collections from the burial-ground with over 1500 items, exclusive of vessel fragments and beads, are kept in a large number of museums both in Russia and abroad.

City ensemble of Yelabuga typifies the settlement of a Russian provincial town. The monuments of residential, civic, public, religious, trade and industrial architecture concentrate upon the relatively small territory (131 ha) in the Old (central) Part of the city along two short (two quarters) parallel streets. There are no two buildings alike, because they all were built to individual designs. A specific colour of provincial town survives together with the unity of architectural appearance of historical monuments and historical and architectural environment. Moreover, the central part of the city keeps inviolate composition links between the dominants, building system and the landscape. A rare construction of such type both in dimensions and in architectural performance, the Spassky Cathedral retains its significance as a principal composition emphasis. It attaches originality and peculiarity to the city appearance.

The history of the city is linked with the names of Ermak Timofeevich, E.I.Pugachev, A.N.Radishchev, N.A. Durova, I.I.Shishkin, M.I.Tsvetayeva, V.G.Korolenko, A.N.Tolstoy, V.V.Vereshchagin, S.Ya.Lemeshev, V.M.Bekhterev, D.I.Mendeleev, D.I.Stakheev, P.K.Ushkov and many others.

Yelabuga surroundings preserve the unique natural environment (landscape, forests, lakes, meadows and, first and foremost, the places associated with I.I.Shishkin).

The city ensemble is protected by the state (over 200 items). With the aim to preserve the historical buildings and the landscape, the Yelabuga State Museum-Reserve of History, Architecture and Art was founded in 1989. In 1990, the city of Yelabuga (1780) was entered in the List of the Historical Inhabited Localities of the Russian Federation. It incorporates protected area, strictly regulated development area, regulated development area and natural landscape preservation area (491.5 ha in total).

City Ensemble of Chistopol, the 19th-20th Centuries

The city ensemble comprises religious, residential, civic, public, industrial and trading buildings and structures.

The village of Chistoye Pole (Arkhangelskaya (Archangel) Settlement) was founded in the early 18th century, and in 1781 it received the 'chief-town-of-uyezd (district)' status of Kazan Vicegerency (Kazan Province since 1796) and its present name.

City ensemble of Chistopol typifies the settlement of a Russian provincial town. The monuments of residential, civic, public, religious, trade and industrial architecture concentrate upon the relatively small territory. The unity of architectural appearance of historical monuments and historical and architectural environment is preserved. Moreover, the central part of the city keeps inviolate composition links between the dominants, building system and the landscape.

The history of the city is linked with the names of G.Iskhaki, A.Marchenko, members of the USSR Writers' Union, who were evacuated to Chistopol in summer 1941 and lived there mostly to July 1943. Among them were N.N.Aseev, A.A.Akhmatova, M.V.Isakovsky, B.L.Pasternak, K.A.Trenev, L.M.Leonov, K:L.Fedin. A.A.Fadeev, P.A.Pavlenko, A.T.Tvardovsky, A.A.Surkov, S.P.Shchipachev, A.V.Sofonov, L.I.Oshanin, V.M.Ibner, I.L.Selvinsky and others came here to visit their families. Many buildings in Chistopol are marked with memorial plaques with the names of the Soviet writers stayed there.

There are over 100 items of historical, scientific, artistic or some other cultural significance in Chistopol, of which 30 are protected by the state. In 1990, the city of Chistopol (1781) was entered in the List of the Historical Inhabited Localities of the Russian Federation.

Town Ensemble of Sviyazhsk, the 16th-20th Centuries. Sviyazhsk Town, Zelenodolsk District

Town ensemble (62 ha) comprises the buildings of Uspensky (Assumption) Monastery and John the Forerunner Convent (cathedrals, churches, cells, stables, cloister college, fortress walls, towers), parochial school, residential and public buildings and structures. Sviyazhsk was founded on 24 May 1551 by Ivan IV the Terrible as a strong fortress with all means to repel the enemy and to defend at the long siege, it served as a foothold during the conquest of Kazan.

From left to right: Sergievsky Church, John the Forerunner Convent, Uspensky (Assumption) Cathedral
Town ensemble of Sviyazhsk has outstanding and universal significance, incorporating the original town buildings, such as the wooden Troitskaya (Trinity) Church (1551) with interior and iconostasis (one of a few pieces of Russian wooden architecture of the 16th century in the Middle Volga Region), the Nikolskaya Church (1556) and Uspensky Cathedral (1560), which were built with participation of the prominent white-stone master Postnik Yakovlev (Barma), the architect of the Church of St. Basil the Blessed on Red Square in Moscow and the Kazan Kremlin. Uspensky Cathedral has retained some 1080 sq.m. of old wall-painting which due to its breadth and diversity of scriptural subjects and artistic perfection is unique among the sparse Orthodox wall-paintings of the 16th century. The wall-painting technique and colouring differ essentially from those of Novgorod, Pskov, Vladimir-Suzdal and Moscow.

It is also unique as the only example of the Old Russian town planning, as per the scope of its foundation (it was built in 24 days by 75,000 people ) and its population (in the area of 62 ha), that have no analogues world-wide.

Extant planning structure of Sviyazhsk is basically the same as the re-planning design of 1896 (geometry of quarters as was historically formed by the mid-19th century has survived with no material changes and was fixed by wooden and stone houses of the 18th and the early 19th centuries), while the structure of trading quarters outside the town walls principally corresponds to the plan of 1829, though comprising the most valuable components of the pre-regular planning structure of the 16th-18th centuries (locality relief and contour of the Kruglaya Hill, location of the existing cloisters, surrounding natural landscape). The links between the dominants have been preserved along with view corridors and all historical town planning components.

View of Sviyazhsk. Engraving by M.I.Makhaev. The mid-18th century
The cultural layer of Sviyazhsk is of profound interest as a subject of archaeological research being a unique relic and also by virtue of the fact that it remains relatively intact by posterior excavations. Due to its high humidity, the cultural layer of the one-time town conserves the wood and other organic materials well enough for the excavations to yield the large collection of materials.

Since May 1551 to the early 17th century, Sviyazhsk played a key role in historic processes of the Russian state formation as a military, administrative, Orthodox, handicraft industry and trading centre of the region; since the first half to the mid-18th century it served as an administrative, handicraft industry, merchant and religious centre of the province; since the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries - as a chief town of the uyezd with trading, religious and educational functions and as a transit point on Sibirsky Trakt. Sviyazhsk was the first Orthodox town in the area that essentially influenced the spreading of spiritual and material culture.

Some 70 specimens of history and culture are found in Sviyazhsk, of which 28 are under the state protection of federal (Russian Federation) and republic's (Republic of Tatarstan) level. In 1990, Sviyazhsk was entered in the List of the Historical Inhabited Localities of the Russian Federation as keeping architectural monuments, city planning ensembles and complexes, as well as extant natural landscapes and ancient cultural layers of archaeological and historical significance.

Owing to perfection of the town ensemble composition and the architectural and artistic merits of particular buildings, Sviyazhsk is considered to be one of the most significant monuments of Russian architecture. Buildings, their interiors with monumental painting, street planning structure and the remains of the ordinary quarters, which are not defeatured by today's structures and retain the scale and architectural image of historical and natural environment, belong to the highest values of the national culture.

Ensemble of Raifsky Monastery (Desert), the 17th-19th Centuries. Raifa Village, Zelenodolsk District

Raifsky Bogoroditsky Desert
The Kazan Raifsky (in honour of the Saint Fathers who were massacred in Sinai and Raifa) Bogoroditsky (Birth-Giver of God) Monastery comprises the ensemble of cloister buildings enclosed by fortified walls with towers and entrance gates. It is located on the lake shore.

In literary sources, the foundation of the monastery is ascribed to Philaret, the monk of the Kazan Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Salvation and Transfiguration) Monastery (in the Kazan Kremlin), in 1613. Most likely it is the period of developing the land for the future monastery on the shore of the picturesque lake in the forests. After death of Philaret (supposedly in 1659), the Kazan Raifsky (in honour of the Saint Fathers who were massacred in Sinai and Raifa) Bogoroditsky Desert was founded in 1661. The Metropolitan Laurenty of Kazan and Sviyazhsk not only gave his blessing, but took an active part in the foundation of the monastery. He personally visited the site, handed the patent for building the churches to the Elders, sent them the experienced hieromonk Savvaty as their Father Superior. Construction works started in 1662. In 1689, the fire destroyed all monastery buildings. Construction of the new monastery of brick continued from 1690 to 1717, with a number of buildings survived until today. In 1739, the monastery incorporated 17 churches. Construction works in the monastery also continued in succeeding years. In July 1928, the monastery was closed down. Since 1930 to 1954, according to rumours and "eyewitnesses' recollections", there was a so-called "zone" for the "people's enemies". Since 1954 to 1993, it was a juvenile correctional institution later reorganised into a vocational school with production shops, recreation centre and messroom located in churches and brethren's buildings. Starting in 1991, the revival of Raifsky Bogoroditsky Monastery began. Restoration works are done at the expense of the Kazan Diocese and oblations.

Raifsky Bogoroditsky Monastery represents a typical example of the Russian defensive and religious architecture of the late 17th - 19th centuries and is protected by federal (Russian Federation) authorities. The architectural ensemble of the monastery comprises:
  • Walls with towers, 1690-1717. Part of the walls is lost. Three out of five towers have survived - the north-western, south-eastern and south-western ones.

  • Belfry, 1889-1903.

  • Brethren's building with church "in honour of Faith, Hope, Charity and their mother Sofia" (1794), the late 17th and the early 18th centuries.

  • Brethren's building with church "in honour of the Saint Fathers who were massacred in Sinai and Raifa", 1708, 1892-1897, architects A.G.Nevinsky and F.N.Malinovsky.

  • The Cathedral of the Mother of God of Georgia, 1835-1842, architect M.P.Korinfsky. It is the place where the main holy image of the monastery, the Miracle-Working Icon of the Mother of God of Georgia, is situated.
  • The Troitsky (Holy Trinity) Cathedral, 90s of the 17th century, 1904-1910, architect F.N.Malinovsky.

  • The Nadvratnaya (Over-the-Gates) Church "in honour of St. Nikolas the Miracle-Worker", 1692.

  • Two brethren's buildings, refectory, the 19th - the early 20th century. Nowadays it is an Orthodox spiritual centre and a place of pilgrimage.

Bolgar Architectural and Archaeological Complex, Bolgary Village, Spassky District

The Bolgar architectutral and archaeological complex (380 ha) comprises the site of Bolgar (the 10th-15th centuries) - cultural layer of the centre of Volga Bolgari - the town of Bolgar, economic, political and cultural centre of Volga Bolgari, and later the Bolgar ulus of the Golden Horde within the fortifications in the form of ramparts and moats 5.63 km in length, that surrounded its territory in the south, west and east in the 14th and the early 15th centuries. In the second half of 14th and the early 15th centuries, Bolgar was repeatedly devastated by the Golden Horde khans, Russian princes and river pirates. The campaign of Moscow troops sent by Vasily II against Bolgar and headed by Prince Fyodor Pestroy resulted in final destruction of the town; since then it no longer appeared on the historical arena and became only a place of pilgrimage of Muslims visiting their sacred relics. "And Kazan is the capital instead of Bryachimov town of Bolgar", as this event was witnessed by a chronicler in the 16th century. "The History of Kazan" written in the mid-16th century by a person who had been the Kazan khan's captive for over 20 years, noted: "the town is now empty". In the territory of the site still stand the remnants from the monumental buildings of brick and stone dating from the second half of the 13th and the 14th centuries (the Northern and Eastern Mausoleums, the Black Palace, the Smaller Minaret and the Khan's Tomb) and the stone-and-brick ruins of public and religious buildings (the Great Mosque, the Red, White and Greek Palaces, Khan's Bath, mausoleums), which remain of the once populous town of Bolgar flourishing in the second half of the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries.

Bolgar. The Black Palace
As of now, known are over 100 remnants from ancient buildings. Researchers revealed an ancient section of the town of the Bolgari period dating from the 10th -11th centuries in the north-east of the site, traced the growth of the settlement territory, studied the residential buildings, workshops, as well as architectural and defensive facilities.

The town of Bolgar was the capital of the Bolgari state in the 13th - 14th centuries, while a number of scientists are of opinion that it had this status even since the 10th -11th centuries.

Concentrating the monuments of archaeology, architecture and epigraphy, the Bolgar complex has an outstanding and universal value as an archaeological evidence of the past.

As long ago as in the reign of Tsar Fyodor Alexeevich (1661-1682), an order was issued to describe the ancient stone buildings and other ruins remaining of the old town. It was done in 1712 by Deacon A.Mikhailov who described in enough details "an old construction that is now in the surrounding rampart". Since that time the attention of the researchers has been captured by surviving monumental structures and ruins of the ancient town. Over the 18th and the 19th centuries it was visited by travellers, writers, journalists, reigning persons, military men, scientists, architects, artists, foreigners and local lore scholars, such as Peter I, Catherine II, P.S.Pallas, I.I.Lepekhin, F.I.Erdman, P.I.Svinyin, N.N.Kaftannikov, M.S.Rybushkin, I.A.Vtorov, A.Schmidt, E.P.Turnerelli, brothers N.G. and G.G.Chernetsovy, Sh.Mardjani, I.I.Shishkin, G.Tukay, A.K.Savrasov, I.N.Berezin and many others who left valuable descriptions, drafts, plans and drawings of the buildings and ruins, though mostly lost to date.

One of the very first Russian decrees on preserving monuments has to do with the remains of the old town. In 1722, Tsar Peter the Great visited the ruins of the town and issued an order to carry out restoration works there.

It is a Muslim sacred relic, a place of pilgrimage, a tourist exhibition and a venue for holding large international events (such as 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bolgari, the First and the Second Congresses of Tatars and others).

Since the last third of the 19th century, the complex has been a subject of archaeological research, and since 1954 it has undergone systematic studies in the field of history and architecture. Restoration and archaeological works have been done at the expense of the state budget. Control over their performance is carried out by specialised monument preservation institutions. A museum was opened here in 1962, and few years later in 1969, the Bolgar State Reserve of History and Architecture was established with the aim to enhance preservation of the monument. The reserve stock incorporates archaeological, numismatic and ethnographic items, paintings, sculptures, photographs and documents (85,070 items). Collections of items from the site territory are kept in museums of the Republic, the Russian Federation and abroad.

The complex is under the state protection of federal (Russian Federation) level. The protected area has been elaborated and approved within the reserve preservation areas (483 ha).

As an economic, political, religious and administrative centre of the Volga Bolgari over a long period of time, Bolgar had a strong influence on the neighbouring territories.

The Bolgar complex is the best-preserved specimen of medieval architecture and archaeology. This is the northernmost monument of Muslim architecture, the unique and virtually the only specimen of the Bolgar-Tatar architecture of the 13th - 14th centuries that allows to view the high level of construction technique and originality of architecture.

In addition, the Bolgar Reserve incorporates:
  • Tankeevsky burial-ground (second half of the 9th-10th centuries). Spassky District, Tankeevka Village. Cultural layer (some 22 ha) is associated with an ethnic group of early Volga Bolgari in its formation period. It supposedly holds around 6,000 (over 3,000 of which have been worked) pagan and Muslim tombs of early Bolgari. This is one of the largest monuments in the Eastern Europe and a most important source to illumine the pivotal historical issues of the early Bolgari, such as the time of appearance of the new political formation in the Middle Volga region, establishment of common Bolgari culture resulted from interaction of different culture components, the character and the time of appearance of Muslim ritualism, etc.

  • The site of Suvar (the 10th-14th centuries), Spassky District, Tatarsky Gorodok Village, to the south of the village. Cultural layer of a largest town in Volga Bolgari dating from the 10th century. In plan the site is somewhat triangular (circuit of some 4.5 km) surrounded with ramparts and moats from three sides (north-east, south-west and south). Expeditions have studied pise and wooden dwellings, brick palace and some structural features of defences. The resulting archaeological materials and written sources indicate that the town flourished in the 11th-12th centuries. The town of Suvar decayed after the Mongol invasion, and was abandoned by the end of the 14th century.

  • Other archaeological monuments of different epochs as well as natural landscape: Armenian Colony, the 13th -14th centuries, Greek Palace, the 14th century, Aga-Bazar terrain, Neolithic age, the 14th -15th centuries, Rabiga-Kul, etc.

Bilyar Historical, Archaeological and Natural Complex, Bilyarsk Village and Surroundings, Alexeevsk District

The complex (3840 ha) incorporates the original set of connate natural features and conditions peculiar to forest-steppe of the Eastern Europe in the historical aspect, it is a concentrated composition of different archaeological monuments of nearly all epochs from the Bronze Age to the late Middle Ages inclusive, remains of distinctive features of the Russian state of the 17th century, monuments of history and culture associated with the names of academicians Butlerov, Arbuzov, etc.

In 1992, the Bilyar State Museum-Reserve of History, Archaeology and Nature was established with the aim to preserve the complex.

The Museum-Reserve incorporates:
  • The site of Bilyar (the 10th -13th centuries), Alexeevsk District, Bilyarsk Village. Cultural layer of the largest medieval town, the capital of Volga Bolgari (the 10th century - 1236), the centre of economic, political and cultural life known under the name of Bilyar ("The Great" as translated from the Bolgar language), Bolgar, and the Great City in Russian chronicles. This is a whole complex of archaeological monuments comprising, apart from fortified sectors, large unfortified suburbs, town cemeteries-necropolises, homesteads. The complex occupies almost rectangular area of nearly 800 ha, surrounded with concentrically inscribed ramparts and moats - remnants from fortifications. The latter divide its territory into two parts, the inside and the outside town. The inlying town with once inhabited area of 116 ha is surrounded with two lines of ramparts and moats 5 km in length, while the outside town with the area of 374 ha is girded by three lines of fortifications over 10 km long. The total area of the site together with fortifications is some 700 ha. It is archaeologically ascertained that as far back as the 10th - 11th centuries the town occupied a formidable area and had the same two-part structure from the very outset. The town was destroyed in 1236 as a result of the Mongol invasion and has never been restored ever since. In the central part of the inside town some monuments of Bolgar monumental architecture were revealed. The remnants from the Chief Mosque hold the central position; it consisted of two parts of wood and white stone with high, separately standing minaret (even in the 18th century, researchers noted the remains of the walls, minaret column and portal). The total area of the mosque premises made some 2,500 sq.m. Among the remains of the other structures, worthy of special note is a brick building with central (underground) heating system in the immediate vicinity of the Chief Mosque, buildings of brick Caravanserai and a bath.
    In the 17th century (1654-1665), the fortifications of the Bilyar site were incorporated into the defensive system of the first Trans-Kama boundary line and a stronghold was built here under the name of Bilyarsk Precinct, later known as Bilyarsk Village

  • Balynguzskoye (Gorkinskoye II) site, being the remnants from the unfinished town of the 30s and 40s of the 14th century, occupying an area of some 400 ha with adjoining monuments (mausoleums) on the Balgaguz Mountain. It is the second largest site in Tatarstan and the Middle Volga Region.

  • Nikolsko-Baranskoye I and II sites of 93 ha with adjoining monuments of the 10th - 13th centuries.

  • Gorkinskoye I site of 42 ha with adjoining monuments of the 10th - 13th centuries.

  • The "Sacred Fount" Terrain (10 ha), a place of the early-Bolgari pagan sanctuary.

  • Christian cemetery (10 ha) with charnel-house of the prominent chemist A.M. Butlerov.

  • Other archaeological monuments (ancient settlements, barrows, sepulchres, etc) of various epochs, as well as natural landscape - meadows, forestry along the River Maly Cheremshan and its tributaries. Among them is the Greater Tigansky Sepulchre that is attributed to ancient Hungarian tribes roaming between the rivers Volga and Belaya within their legendary "Great Hungary" in the 7th-9th centuries.

  • Museum of History and Archaeology and Memorial House of Academician A.E.Arbuzov in the centre of Bilyarsk Village, 3 ha in area.