Tatarstan (Russian: Респу́блика Татарста́н rees-POOB-lee-kuh tuh-tuhr-STAHN) is a region (republic) in the Middle Volga, bordering Ulyanovsk Oblast to the southwest, Chuvashia to the west, Mari El to the northwest, Kirov Oblast to the north, Udmurtia to the northeast, Bashkortostan to the east, Orenburg Oblast to the southeast, and Samara Oblast to the south.
- 1 Kazan — the Tatar capital is a big and attractive city (the third most wealthy in Russia), very much worth a visit for its impressive kremlin, largest mosque in Russia, and just to soak up the Tatar culture
- 2 Almetyevsk — a mid-sized oil city
- 3 Kamaevo — a small village not too far from Yelabuga and Naberezhnye Chelny, which is next to the archaeological site and museum-reserve of Old Kazan
- 4 Naberezhnye Chelny — a major Soviet industrial city
- 5 Nizhnekamsk — a big oil city
- 6 Yelabuga — an old, small city notable for the ruins of an 11th century Volga Bulgarian castle, the birthplace of the great Russian landscape painter Ivan Shishkin, and the site of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva's suicide
- 7 Zelenodolsk — a mid-sized city which has an important regional transit hub and shipbuilding yard; the famous Raifa Monastery is nearby
- 1 Bolghar — The world heritage listed ruins of the historic capital of Volga Bulgaria is considered in some ways to be the spiritual center of Tatarstan. The city walls and towers remain and the site was a pilgrimage destination for Muslims of the Soviet Union, who came here on a "Little Hajj," when barred from traveling to Mecca.
- 2 Nizhnyaya Kama National Park
- 3 Volzhsko-Kamsky Nature Reserve (Volga-Kama Nature Reserve)
- Raifa section
- 4 Sviyazhsk Island
Tatarstan is a nation within a nation. Tatars are Russia's largest minority at about five million people. Although they are named after a Mongol tribe, the Tatars trace their origins to the ancient Volga Bulgars, who inhabited the Volga Region since at least the days of Ancient Greece, and who were conquered by the Golden Horde, which set up the powerful Kazan Khanate. They are predominantly Sunni Muslim, but have significant numbers of Orthodox Christians as well.
Kazan is the undisputed capital of the region and should be the principal destination for any traveler in the region. The Russian capture of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible was a truly momentous event in human history, marking the beginning of the end of Turkic and the rise of Russian dominance over the northern Eurasian continent. Today, it is perhaps the most interesting and vibrant city in the entire Volga Region, as the center of Tatar culture and also just as a big city with a lot to see and do.
Kazan's airport services flights from international cities such as Tashkent, Kiev, Simferopol, Baku, Istanbul, Antalya, Dubai, and Frankfurt, as well as numerous Russian airports, including two daily flights to/from Moscow. The "Begishevo Airport," which offers flights to/from Istanbul, Tashkent, Antalya, Simferopol, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and many other Russian cities.
The main rail line in the region is the Moscow-Kazan-Yekaterinburg Railway, which passes through Zelenodolsk, Kazan, and Agryz.
Kazan has the largest port on the Volga River and can be reached by boat from virtually any city in European Russia that has a river port.
Tatar cuisine is very different from Russian cuisine—more similar to other Central Asian cuisines (e.g., Uzbek). And it is really good. It is a diverse cuisine with a lot to try and food-lovers should make a point of hitting the many good restaurants in Kazan.
The national drink "qatiq," as with many Central Asian nations, is made from fermented milk. Despite of being predominantly Muslim, Tatars don't avoid alcohol.