With its East-meets-West vibe and a rich blend of history and culture, Kazan claims title of the third Russian capital (the first two being Moscow and St Petersburg). Its location on the Volga River and at the crossroads of Europe and Asia helped Kazan rise to prominence but also guaranteed centuries of a turbulent history. Once an independent Tatar Turkic state, the Khanate of Kazan was conquered by the army of Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and has been a part of Russia ever since. By the end of the 19th century, Kazan was not only a big trade and industrial centre, and an important stopover along the newly-built Trans-Siberian railway, but also an ambitious cultural and educational hub - Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Lenin were among those who studied here.
Today’s Kazan is a rich and vibrant city, a melting pot where West and East don’t replace or suppress each other but blend together creating a unique multicultural vibe in which mosques and churches stand side by side, all signs and announcements are bilingual, and Tatar öçpoçmaqs are served next to Russian pancakes.