Sviyazhsk - a unique monument of Tatarstan!

There is a beautiful and lovely island in the place where the Sviyag river flows into the Volga river. Sviyazhsk is in 30 km from Kazan. It is the popular tourist destination with quiet atmosphere and population of only 250 inhabitants. Do you remember the Pushkin’s fairy tale “Tsar Saltan”? 

“On an island, far away,
Stands a city grand and gay–
Churches tall with golden domes,
Gardens green, and stately homes. “

We remind you this poetry, because the poet saw this place and told that he imagined the Buyan island just as the island of Sviyazhsk! 

The history of Sviazhsk

During the capture of Kazan, Ivan the Terrible used the city-fortress as a defensive post for the conquest of the capital of the Kazan Khanate. The whole city with its walls and churches was built during the cold winter without using of saws and nails in 1,000 km far of the intended fortress place. It was built in the forests of Uglich. Then the city’ buildings were pulled into numbered, and then it was water-rafted to the bed of the Sviyaga river, to a special place which was chosen by Ivan the Terrible. The place was at the flat-toped Round Mountain surrounded by forests and swamps. The city was rebuilt in 1551, as if by magic, just in four weeks. After the foundation of the fortress, around the island were found mammoth bones. And when in 1956, Kuibyshev reservoir was launched, several tens of hectares of land have been cut off from the mainland. Only the central part of Sviyazhsk survived, because it was on the hill.
And even the Stalin era with camps and repression didn’t spoiled the aura of the island, because here were lots of creative people. It should be noted that even today, Sviyazhsk is really loved by artists and writers.

Let’s start our journey to Sviyazhsk island

Although, there is an abundance of monuments, first of all, Sviyazhsk is a box with legends and historical events. You can find out more about its history by taking numerous excursions. They take place in the period from April to September. You have to agree that it is much more interesting to see some sights knowing a history of that place.
If we talk about mysticism, we have to mention that these energetically powerful places with continuously flowing water, rocks and wild nature attract not only the believers who come here to pray, but also parapsychologists, who come here to feel the earth energy and then meditate. In the VIII century, a tribe called "Suvar" formed a pagan temple at the top of Round Mountain, where they performed their ceremonies.

How to get there

You can easily reach Sviyazhsk by water or land.
The first option is easy performs with a two-hour walk on the boat (2 times a day, every day), which starts in the Kazan River Station (ul. Devyataeva,1, (843) 233-08-18). While traveling through the water you will see endless scenic views.
Moreover, you can get to the island by car over the bridge across the Volga River on the highway M7. Further, from the Isakovo village you should go straight 5 more kilometers to Sviyazhsk. The road usually takes half an hour. There is a car parking zone at the foot of the island.
Also, there is a public transport from Kazan to Sviyazhsk. 

Where to stay

The hotel "Sviyaga" (“Свияга”) occupies a historic building dating from the merchant’s time. Here you can choose a room from 10 ones. Every room has a certain name in honor of fish breeds which can be found in local waters. On the ground floor of the hotel you can dine and relax in a cozy cafe. The cost of a single room will be 1000 rubles a day.
After an exciting tour around the island you also can stay in the "House of the merchant Kamenev" (“Дом купца Каменева”). There is another hotel which occupies an old merchant mansion. The cost of a standard room is 3000 rubles a day.

Main Attractions of Sviazhsk

The main attraction of this place is the nature. There indescribably magnificent panoramas can be observed by you from the island. You will see them at the beginning of your journey. 
So, we’re coming to the island. At the entrance to the city, near the road, in front of us, we can see an ancient wooden snow-white church of Saints Constantine and Helen (XVI cent.). This old church is the only one which survive on the island. It is visible from any side of the island. Once upon a time it separated the lower part of the town, which was occupied by peasants from the top part, in which the fortress. Here was the main entrance to the city with Christmas (Rozdestvenskie) Gate and the central city square. Moreover, there Gostiny Dvor with numerous shops. Each year this place hosted great annual fairs. 
At the end of the XVII century, the wooden church was rebuilt in a three-tiered bell tower and stone parish church. Also, there was a refectory between them. 
A century later, the refectory, the bell tower, and the temple were joined together. Near the temple, in the first half of XX century, was found a mass grave with big cross at the top. Since 1939 the church was closed and it started servicing again only in 1993. Nowadays it is opened to visitors and tourists.
If we move along the narrow path to the heart of an island to a stone fence and the Saints gate (end of XVI century.), we will see the place where was the women’s cathedral of John the Baptist. The monastery was very big, but very poor, because its nuns were peasants, and there weren’t any donations. All the buildings in the monastery’s territory and fence were made of wood. In 1795, the fire completely destroyed the monastery.
At the same time the beginning of Sviyazhsk, a few hundred meters from the women’s convent, was the rich men’s the Holy Trinity Monastery. After the fire, the monastery was joint with the convent. It was the beginning of John the Baptist ensemble. Good donations have contributed to the prosperity of the monastery up until 1917.
In the center of a monastery located a thick-walled white stone Sergius church. The ground floor of the church housed monks' cells. Also there was the refectory. All funeral rites were carried here.
The oldest and the only building, which was made in Uglich, in this ensemble, considered to be a small the Trinity Church (20 meters long, 8 meters in width). It was this church which was the only witness to all the events that took place on the island for 500 years since its foundation. Actually, the church looks like a two-tier cross: the first part is a square cross, the second one has eight sides. The internal decoration of the church resembles a village house with massive timbers and doors, long benches along the perimeter. The atmosphere inside the church is peaceful and calm. Here you’ll feel the true serenity. The main mystery of the Trinity church is the iconostasis. It is a beautiful carved iconostasis. It has four tiers, with the images of the saints in bright robes, with Latin inscriptions. Its origin is still unknown. At the present moment, the iconostasis is presented in a very damaged state. There are damaged icons and a thread.
At the beginning of the XIX century, the church was reconstructed. The porch and several columns were built. Later, there was built a brick plinth, the entire building was sheathed with boards and painted. And later, tent top was replaced with a flat iron one. Before that change it looked majestic and its height reached 21 meters, but than it has been lowered twice. Today, the Trinity Church has the original appearance.
At the same level with the Trinity Church, there is and the youngest building in this architectural ensemble. It is the five-domed Cathedral of Our Lady of the Afflicted (1898) (today the church belongs to the Assumption Monastery). The cathedral has a very impressive size, it’s 32 by 28 meters. Actually, the cathedral looks like enormous Easter egg with bright red brick walls. In the one hand, there is an element of solemnity in its design, in another hand, it represents sacrifice and sorrow. The building was erected right before the bloodiest revolution. The building dominates with its majestic dome. Its numerous windows allow the light fill the room of the Cathedral with a sunlight, this fact makes it even bigger. There is a beautiful garden around the temple. Nowadays, the appearance of the building is just the same as it was. But only one row iconostasis was saved. Today. The temple is at the renovation. It is planned to renovate the iconostasis and repaint the completely lost mural oil painting.
The large-scale construction in the 20s of the XIX century made the territory of the monastery bigger in twice in comparison with the whole territory of an ex the Trinity-Sergius Monastery. Now the territory resembles a huge ship.
The Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh is the third building in the complex. It was built simultaneously with the Cathedral of the Mother of God, in the heart of the territory of the monastery, not far from the Trinity Church. At the beginning of the XVII century, the wooden one was rebuilt into the white stone one in the form of a two-story cube, which was topped by a small cupola.
There is a beautiful green dome above the highest south-eastern part of the temple. Iconostasis was painted in the old Russian style. The refectory is located in the middle of the temple.
Than we move to the southern part of the island. Here we could see the Holy Dormition Monastery, which is founded in 1555 by Hermann descendant of Smolensk princes. The relics of the saint is the main shrine of the monastery. This monastery was considered the richest one in the diocese of Kazan State, and in 1754 the monastery was given a highest class. But in 1764, the monastery lost its richness due to the government program of confiscation of the church’s lands. 
Since the end of the XVIII century, the ensemble is surrounded by white-kilometer wall and has a shape of a Kremlin. There are only two masterpieces of an ancient Russian architecture.
The Cathedral of the Assumption (1556) is the largest-dome church, which is made of white stone, in Sviyazhsk. The choice of the name was not accidental. The sacred bridge over the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Vladimir and Moscow has been crossed on Sviyazhsk as in a center of the conquered Kazan Khanate. Its uniqueness is also may be proved by the fact that the monastery originally was built in stone by Pskov’s masters. The main decoration of the cathedral is 12 corbel arches at the top, which were built in the XVIII century. They create an appearance of lace wave and give the cathedral lightness and beauty. Four of them (in the middle of each facade) decorated with small domes. The temple by the altar part also looks airy thanks to the three tiers of eaves. It is the most beautiful and solemn part of the cathedral. At the southern and the northern sides of buildings a gallery stretches. As for the interior decoration, its main feature is the technique of painting murals, it represents biblical scenes, the days of creation, and it tells us about people’s days in Paradise. The paintings are different from Novgorod’s, Pskov’s, Moscow’s, Suzdal’s ones. They dated to the XVII century and covers an area of more than 1000 square meters. Nowadays it is at the same place. Because of the numerous renovations, the original appearance of the cathedral has been lost.  Today this building is under the reconstruction. 
Coming out of the Cathedral of the Assumption, in the monastery courtyard, in front of our eye, there is another building. It is the St. Nicholas Church which was built almost simultaneously with the Cathedral of the Assumption. There was the highest on the island three-tiered bell tower next to the church (it height was 43 meters). There were five heavy bells. In the XVII century, people added two more tiers to the main building. The church has a simple design with no decoration at all. By the XIX century, the bell tower had 22 bells, the biggest one weighed about 9 tons. The church is open only to monks. The residence, nowadays, is the same as it was. There are cells, the abbot's chambers, the hotel for guests and for pilgrims on its territory.
If we go further, we will see an old cemetery where are buried the inhabitants of the monastery.

The Entertainment of Sviyazhsk 

There is a renovated stable yard, it reopened in 2012. This building belongs to the XVI century. Now, you will plunge into the atmosphere of antiquity here. There is an organized craft village, where you will be demonstrated how to make clay pots, weaving fishing baskets, how to forge a horseshoe. By the way, fishing is considered to be the main activity of the local inhabitants in these places. Fishing-lovers from the nearest areas come here to spend  their weekend. 
If you want to experience the medieval era of Sviyazhsk, to play as a warrior, to take part in knightly tournaments, to see the military battles, to taste medieval food which is cooked on fire, to try herbal tea, you should come to the historical complex "Leniviy Torzhok" ("Ленивый торжок"). This organization is located in the main street of the city Uspenskaya (“Успенская”).
And under the guidance of an experienced professional, you are free to make a memorable souvenir for yourself and your friends.
The cost of the tour "Streleckie zabavy" (“Стрелецкие забавы”) for a group of 10 people will be 800 Russian rubles. The time of the event is 40 minutes.

Cafes and restaurants in Sviyazhsk

There is a wonderful place to date and  to relax on the Quay of the river Sviyaga. We are talking about art cafe "Ribatskoye Podvor’e" ("Рыбацкое подворье"). Here you have an opportunity to taste the dishes of the old Russian cuisine. And you will be pleased with the view which the café provides!
There is a couple of cozy places to relax and to enjoy homemade dishes nearby the complex "Lenivy Torzhok". For example, a snack bar "Buyan" ("Буян") (address: Uspenskaya street, 2A). The most popular restaurant among the guests of the island is “Traktir na konnom dvore” ("Трактир на конном дворе") which is opened all year round (address: Uspenskaya ul., 1A). - 
Touch the stories of outstanding masterpieces! Each of them is filled with the spirit of an old times! Thanks to the appearance of the old Russian town which is preserved to our days, you can imagine the old Russian world! Enjoy the silence and the historical greatness of the town!
Be sure to visit this miracle island! And who knows, maybe you will want to move here permanently? We are sure that you will be pleased with this place!

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