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Not far from Kazan is Sviazhsk Russia
Sviyazhsk Russia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kazan offers three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and near the city. The Kazan Kremlin is one of them. Sviyazhsk is on an island in the Volga. It is about an hour's drive from Tatarstan's capital. Sviyazhsk is one of those places that you shouldn't miss when visiting Tatarstan with the Sights of Kazan can combine. You shouldn't miss it either Bolgar, the old capital of the Volga Bulgars.
The island city of Sviazhsk
The city on the hill in the Volga is one of the attractions in Russia. Svyashsk has only been an island town since the 550s. At that time the Kuibyshev reservoir was created. This stretches from Kazan to Tolyatti over a length of about XNUMX kilometers and is the largest reservoir in Europe. Due to the damming of the water masses, the water of the Volga rose at the confluence with its tributary, the Swijaga. So the Svyashsk hill was finally transformed into an island. Until then, it was only when the Volga was in high water. We approach the place via a road that leads directly to the hill over a causeway. There we can see the domes and towers of the churches and monasteries from afar. Svyashsk is known for them.
Founded by Ivan the Terrible
In the war of the Russians against the Tatars in the 16th century, Ivan IV, "the terrible", issued a decree. A city should be founded at this point. It should serve as a bulwark against the Kazan Tatars. It only took four weeks for a wooden fortress to stand on the hill. The buildings were taken from the Uglich Bastion, 100 kilometers north of Moscow. These were dismantled and transported to their destination on the Volga.
When the Russians defeated the Tatar Khanate in Kazan in 1552, they gave Svyazhsk city status. At first the city was a trading center. At the same time, Russian Orthodox monasteries emerged as a counterpoint to Islam in Kazan. The place soon lost its role as a trading center to Kazan. However, the city's religious significance extended into the 18th century. After that, the monasteries lost more and more influence until only a few monks and nuns lived in the monasteries at the beginning of the 20th century. The Soviets closed the monasteries shortly after the October Revolution.
In the following years, Svyashsk housed a prison, a re-education camp for the homeless and finally a clinic for the mentally ill. In the 50s, the construction of the Kuibyshev reservoir turned the village into an island. The institutions of the Soviet era disappeared again. The clinic closed in 1994.
In 2017, UNESCO added the Assumption Monastery and the Assumption Cathedral to the world cultural heritage.
Swizashsk - excursion destination from Kazan
As a World Heritage Site, Svyashsk is one of the excursion destinations near Kazan that are worth a trip. The churches and monasteries have been restored. Monks have moved into the Assumption Monastery again. We see them talking busily on their cell phones. One of them is chatting animatedly with tourists. Even the abbot of the monastery takes his time and speaks to a visitor. The monastery, along with the church that dates back to the time of Ivan the Terrible, is the part of the place that UNESCO has put on its World Heritage List.
If you approach the village from the land side, the first thing you notice is the defensive wall that surrounds the monastery and the church. The Assumption Church is remarkable for its frescoes. On one of them there is a depiction of Ivan the Terrible. This is said to have originated when he was still alive. The frescoes in the interior of the church are well preserved. The most famous of these represent Adam and Eve in Paradise and the Holy Trinity. They were extensively restored in the 1990s.
UNESCO protects the frescoes of the Annunciation Church
Noteworthy is a depiction of St. Christophorus, who is shown with a horse's head. It is said that he was said to have been so beautiful that women ran after him in droves. In his need he is said to have asked God to make him ugly. This complied with his request by giving him a horse's head. In the 18th century, however, most of these depictions of the saint were destroyed. The frescoes in the Church of the Assumption of Mary are therefore a cultural asset with a rarity. This was also the reason why UNESCO considered the church worthy of protection. In their statements it says: "The frescoes of the cathedral are one of the rarest examples of Eastern Orthodox wall painting."
The Holy Trinity Church in the Johannes-Baptist monastery
Not only the buildings of the island city, which are part of the world cultural heritage, are worth seeing. The is also impressive Trinity Church, The monastery was already dissolved by Catherine the Great. The oldest building of the island stands on this area. The Trinity Church is built without a wooden nail. It is said that 1551 was completed within a day. Ivan the Terrible is said to have prayed to 1552 the day before the decisive battle against the Tatars of Kazan.
Right next door is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Serene Joy, a brick church with an impressive interior.
Swiashsk Russia comes to life
In a square near these churches, history buffs from the region bring everyday life from yesteryear to life. Tatar fighters in historical armor demonstrate sword fighting. Visitors can practice archery or try on armor. You can try tea with yeast pastries at the gates of the site.
Worth knowing about the history in the museum of the place
If you are looking for information on the history, the buildings and the place, then why not visit the Museum of Swiashsk. This is housed in an administration building. There you can see documents and photographs as well as finds from the excavations. You learn interesting facts about the saints of Svyashsk, the importance of the Volga and the Volga shipping for the place and more.
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Source for the article UNESCO World Heritage in Svyashsk near Kazan Russia: Research on site.
We thank Tatarstan for inviting us to this trip. However, our opinion remains our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline