Yoshkar-Ola (Russian: Йошка́р-Ола́ yahsh-KAHR ah-LAH) is the capital of Mari El in the Volga Region of the Russian Federation. The city was founded in 1584 during the reign of Ivan IV The Terrible as a fortification post with the purpose of controlling the newly annexed Kazan Khanate. Today its population is about 200,000 people.
Currently Yoshkar-Ola bound flights from Moscow operated by Domodedovo airport have been resumed. The city is just a few hour drive from Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, cities with international air connections.
Daily express trains connect Yoshkar-Ola with the Russian capital (Kazansky vokzal), and the overnight journey is approximately 16 hours each way. Travellers from Kazan can take a suburb train.
Yoshkar-Ola transport structure is represented by extensive trolleybus system (rather old in outlook and yet bringing back nostalgy of the soviet epoch), buses, and minibuses (marshrutkas) and a few taxi agencies, so-called "gipsy" taxis, which are privately owned and potentially dangerous and thus not recommended.
The city is home to a few cultural legacy sites, ranging between wooden mansions dating back to the 18th century and soviet neoclassicism style municipal buildings of the 1920-1960. Recently the city center has seen a major renovation with emergence of such landmarks as the Kremlin, Nogotkov-Obolensky square (in honour of the city founder) distinguished by such a curiosity as the religiously designed Mari automatic clock. A must on your list is also the cathedrals and churches of Yoshkar-Ola, notably:
- Saint-Trinity church (1736)
- Assumption cathedral (2006)
- Resurrection cathedral
The city can boast of a certain level of cultural activity exemplified by theatre performances based on classical and modern works (both in Mari and Russian languages), those interested in the origin of the city foundation can visit the Yoshkar-Ola museum of history. The city also hosts the National museum of the Mari El republic with a curious collection of stuffed animals.
Mari style embroidery, wooden items such as "mari matryoshka" are a local speciality.
There are a few worthy European style cafes and restaurants in the city centre, local mari food is represented at Podkogolnaya cafe, 166 Volkova st. Traditional plates are: