Island-town Sviyazhsk: guidebook

Island-town Sviyazhsk: guidebook

A detailed guide for those who are going to Sviyazhsk island-town. How to get there from Kazan, what sights to see. Ticket prices and tours from Kazan. Reviews about Sviyazhsk miracle island and tourist tips.

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Content:

History of the island-town of Sviyazhsk.

Russian tsars tried to conquer Kazan several times, but were defeated. Take the city by storm was impossible, so Ivan IV the Terrible ordered to create a wooden fortification near Kazan, which would have helped the advancing troops.

The remains of future buildings were cut down in Uglich, floated on the Volga, and in 1551 near the mouth of the Sviyaga River a new fortress Novograd Sviyazhskiy grew up. The history of Sviyazhsk developed rapidly. Kazan fell, a year later the fortifications were abandoned, and the Russian fort became a place of worship.

During the Soviet regime religious life in Sviyazhsk ceased. Monastery buildings were given to a children’s commune, and then – to the NKVD penal colony. In 1957, a hydroelectric dam was built on the Volga, the river water rose, and the elevated bank turned into an island.

The revival of Sviyazhsk took place in 2007, after the construction of an embankment dam. The old temples were restored and a museum-reserve was established on the island, which was included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

History of Sviyazhsk

Sviyazhsk (Photo: natasha.mrk / flickr.com)

Sviyazhsk sights

The island-museum is a great place to explore Russian history and temple architecture. Here was the birthplace of Orthodoxy in the land of Kazan. We tell you what to see in Sviyazhsk.

Holy Virgin Dormition Monastery

Price : free.

The monastery was founded simultaneously with the construction of a wooden fortress. Go to the Assumption cathedral where the wall paintings of XVI century are preserved. The ancient frescoes cover an area of 1000 square meters. Notable are images of a holy warrior with a horse’s head, altar images of the Russian tsar and the Moscow patriarch.

From the same times stands the snow-white St. Nicholas Church, whose four-tiered bell tower rises to 43 m. This is the highest building on the island. St. Nicholas Church can be seen from the outside, inside allowed to enter only monks. Connoisseurs of Russian architecture love the carved platbands of the temple of Herman of Kazan and Mitrofan Voronezh, which was built in the late 18th century.

What to see in Sviyazhsk

Monastery of the Virgin Dormition (Photo: Alexxx1979 / flickr.com)

Monastery of St. John the Baptist

Price : free.

The ensemble of the convent is one of the main attractions of Sviyazhsk. Admire the ancient church of Sergius of Radonezh, the church of Constantine and Helen, and the small chapel tower of Nicholas and Alexandra. The multidome cathedral in honor of the icon of Our Lady of Joy of All Who Sorrow, which was built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, occupies a special place in the monastery.

Reviews of Sviyazhsk sights

Monastery of St. John the Baptist (Photo: Alexxx1979 / flickr.com)

Church of Trinity

Price : free.

A rare sight in Sviyazhsk is a monument of Russian wooden architecture of the 16th century. According to legend, the Church of the Holy Trinity was built in one day from logs cut down in Uglich. This is the only wooden building on the island since the time of Ivan IV the Terrible.

Holidays in Sviyazhsk in winter and summer

Trinity Church (Photo: Holy crap! / flickr.com)

Sviyazhsk Museum of History

Price: 120-200 rubles.

The expositions occupy four stone houses of the XIX century. At the entrance to the museum on a gun carriage is the symbol of the ancient fortress – a cast cannon “Devkin’s head”. In the halls are exhibits that reveal the history of Sviyazhsk from the founding to the mid-twentieth century. Permanent exhibitions tell about the heavenly patrons of the island-town, the history of the Volga passenger fleet and Romanovsky bridge.

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Excursions to Sviyazhsk from Kazan

Dormition Cathedral in winter (Photo: Grigory Gusev / flickr.com)

Exhibition Hall The Old Water Tower

Price: 100 rubles.

Inside the two-story building hold temporary exhibitions of paintings and handicrafts.

How much does it cost to go sightseeing in Sviyazhsk

Illarionov-Brovkin-Medvedev House (Photo: Alexx1979 / flickr.com)

Art gallery of the museum-reserve

Price: 150 rubles, visit the observation deck – 350 rubles.

Gallery and visit center of museum-reserve is located in a brick building, which was built in the mid XIX century for the fire department. The chapel was restored a few years ago from the preserved drawings. On the top there is an observation deck.

Sightseeing in Sviyazhsk

Fire tower (Photo: Alexxx1979 / flickr.com)

Museum of Archeological Tree

Price: 250 rubles.

An unusual building with an area of 2500 square meters looks like a low hill. Under the dome is a large archaeological excavation with fragments of wooden buildings, fences and planking. The showcases display the artefacts found by archaeologists – children’s toys, fishing nets, noodles, clay crockery, ancient coins, jewelry and weapons from the 16th-17th centuries.

Museum of civil war

Price: 120 rubles.

The museum is located in a beautiful house with a mezzanine – the manor of a nineteenth century burgher Medvedev. Learn about the establishment of the Red Army and the White Movement. A separate part of the exposition is dedicated to the chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council Lev Trotsky.

Excursions to Sviyazhsk

Museum of the Civil War (Photo: Holy crap! / flickr.com)

Prices for single and special tickets to Sviyazhsk

Tickets to museums and exhibitions for adults cost 100-350 rubles, for schoolchildren, pensioners and students – 50-300 rubles. If you want to visit several museums, buy a single ticket which saves 20%. It will cost 750 rubles for adults and 530 rubles for children, students and seniors.

A cheaper option – a special ticket – costs 550 and 430 rubles. Tourists with children it is advantageous to buy a family ticket “2 adults + 2 children” for 550 rubles.

Excursions from Kazan to Sviyazhsk

Tours to the island-town are very popular among guests of Kazan. Tourists willingly go on bus tours to Sviyazhsk and the Temple of All Religions. The trip lasts 5-6 hours and costs 800-850 rubles. A group tour to the island and the Museum of Archaeological Wood costs 1100 rubles. Individual tours by car are more expensive – 4200-5900 rubles. Look for excursions on the Tripster website – there are unique author’s tours which will show the city from a new side.

In the summer months there are excursion motorboats from Kazan to Sviyazhsk. They depart from the River port on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9:00 and return at 17:30. Water transport ride to the hail-island lasts 2.5 hours. On the way guide tells about the history of the right bank of the Volga. The ticket costs 1250 rubles for adults and 1150 rubles for children 7-14 years old. Children under 7 years old are allowed on board for free.

How to get to Sviyazhsk from Kazan by yourself

By car. By car from Kazan to Sviyazhsk is easy to reach. The distance to the island is only 58 km, drive about an hour. Take the M7 highway towards Moscow, and after the village of Isakovo turn right, towards Sviyazhsk. It is forbidden to enter the territory of the museum-reserve, but there is free parking.

By bus. You can get from Kazan to Sviyazhsk by direct bus. However, it runs only on Saturdays and Sundays at 8:40. Back – at 14:30. The fare is 150 rubles.

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By electric train + bus. From “Kazan-passenger” to the station “Sviyazhsk” runs 11 electric trains a day. In 1 hour 15 minutes you will be there. The ticket costs 76 rubles.

From the station you need to go by bus or cab. The stop is across the crossing, opposite the train station. The official website says that buses go to the museum at 12:10, 14:10, 15:45 and 17:10. Back – 13:30, 15:10, 16:25, 17:30. The ticket costs 50 rubles.

Motor ship. From May 1 to August 31 – daily, and from September 1 to October 16 – on weekends sail from the river port of Kazan to Sviyazhsk. Tickets are sold an hour before departure. Tickets cost 150 rubles. From Kazan the boat departs at 9:00, back – at 15:15.

How to get from Kazan to Sviyazhsk

River station (Photo: Alexxx1979 / flickr.com)

Travel tips and reviews of Sviyazhsk

There are many positive reviews on Sviyazhsk. To see the temples, monasteries, merchant estates and museums, we advise to plan a whole day.

In Sviyazhsk is beautiful, but you should be prepared that almost everything built – bright kooky novodel. Tourists complain about low-quality restoration, which lost the spirit of antiquity. The places where the destroyed cathedrals and churches stood are marked with commemorative plaques.

In Sviyazhsk, some tourists hire a guide. A walk with a guide for 1.5 hours costs 150-180 rubles, and for 2 hours – 200-230 rubles per person.

To learn blacksmithing, basketwork, pottery, weaving and cloth weaving is interesting to attend master classes which cost 200 rubles each. Shooting with a crossbow and a bow is 100 rubles and taking a picture in a Russian warrior’s armor is 50 rubles.

Where to eat. Tourists like the interactive program with tea for 140 rubles. Guests are treated to tea with herbs and pancakes with jam. The refectory of the monastery, the cafe “Buyan”, “Fisherman Farmstead”, “Sviyaga” and the restaurant “Traktir” offer complex dinners for 230-350 rubles.

Where to stay. The cheapest place to stay is the “Pilgrim’s House” which is situated in the monastery and costs about 300 roubles per night bed. More comfortable conditions – in the hotel “Sviyaga” where a single room with amenities on the floor costs 1000 rubles. A luxurious hotel “House of merchant Kamenev” costs from 3000 rubles per day.

Island-town Sviyazhsk

Many people believe that it is the prototype of the fairytale island Buyan, described by Pushkin in “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”. Tourists from all over Russia and other countries of the world come to this place at any time of the year.

Sviyazhsk

History

Ivan the Terrible himself decided to build a city-fortress after a series of failed operations to capture Kazan. It was necessary to create a strong point to support the army. Three sides of the island were washed by waters of the rivers Shchuka, Sviyaga and Volga, from the elevated area – Round Mountain – were visible far approaches, and most importantly, the island was located at a distance of one day’s journey from the capital of the Kazan Khanate.

The fortress was built unnoticed by the enemy. First the fortifications were built near Uglich. After that they were disassembled and with the advent of spring the logs were rafted along the Volga to the island, then dragged to the foot of the Round Mountain. For the reassembly of the fortress had to spend a month. The construction was supervised by the famous Russian architect of the time Ivan Vyrodkov.

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The city consisted of eighteen towers, dwelling houses and an orthodox temple. The fortress completely fulfilled its purpose: a year after its foundation Kazan was taken.

Sviyazhsk on map

History of the name

Originally, the settlement had the name “Novograd Sviyazhsky”. The name of the town comes from the river Sviyaga. Over time, the original name was shortened.

The city’s coat of arms was approved only at the end of the XVIII century. It is a shield, showing the city floating on a ship, with fish depicted underneath. This emblem fully reflects the amazing history of the construction of the town.

After the conquest of the capital of the Kazan Khanate the town lost its military significance. Soon the island became a quiet monastic place. With the advent of Soviet power the history of the town abruptly changed. It was almost completely looted. After a while instead of churches and monasteries were built prisons and detention camps.

Nowadays Sviyazhsk island has been turned into one of the key attractions of the Republic of Tatarstan. Travelers are greeted by white-stone monasteries and golden domes of temples. The miracle island hospitably welcomes tourists. The sights attract travelers from all corners of our country.

Attractions .

The city has a rich history. On its territory there are a huge number of religious Orthodox structures. It is a must to visit:

      The Assumption Monastery. It was built in the middle of the 16th century, a few years after the foundation of the city. The first abbot of the monastery was canonized. The main relics are the relics of St. Herman. According to legend, in the early twentieth century, on the wave of the propaganda of atheism, the container with the relics was opened, after which a terrible tornado began to rage, which horrified the people present. In the 1930s, a penal colony was established on the island, as well as the NKVD prison.

    Monastery of the Virgin Mary of the Assumption

        St. Nicholas Church. It is considered to be one of the oldest on the territory of the monastery. It was built of hewn stone rock. After a while a bell tower was added to the construction. Its height was 43 meters. It is the tallest building in the town. St. Nicholas Church is visited only by monks.

      Nikolskaya church

          Assumption Cathedral. The temple was built in the second half of the 16th century. The style of the building is Pskov-Novgorodian. The authors of the project were the creators of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – Ivan Barma and Postnik Yakovlev. The temple is a unique monument of architecture. The building is a rare example of Russian art of the sixteenth century. A preserved fresco on the wall of the cathedral depicts St. Christopher with a dog’s head. At the Moscow Cathedral in 1667, beast-like images of saints were banned and destroyed.

        Assumption Cathedral

            Trinity Church. Is part of those buildings that were originally transported to the island by water. Today, it is the only building left in the village from those times. The interior furnishings of the church had changed over the centuries. Only the configuration of the iconostasis was unchanged. Over the centuries, the temple has been continually rebuilt. Now it is almost completely restored.

          Trinity Church

              St. John the Baptist monastery. It was built at the end of the 16th century. In the middle of XVIII century the building was seriously damaged by fires. Therefore, the monastery received the structures of the Trinity-Sergius Monastery, which at that time was already abolished. At the time of the Soviets there were ordinary warehouses inside the cathedral.

            Monastery of St. John the Baptist

                Cathedral of Our Lady of Joy of All Who Sorrow . The most impressive religious building on the island. It was built at the end of XIX – beginning of XX centuries. The stylistics of the temple is Byzantine. This religious building had not changed much in one hundred years. The only negative side effect is that during the Soviet rule was completely destroyed wall painting. Now the restoration is in full swing.

              Cathedral of Our Lady of Joy of All Who Sorrow

                  The church of Konstantin and Elena. This is one of the earliest structures. The building was ordered by Ivan the Terrible just after the construction of the fortress city. The church was originally built of wood. But later it was turned into a stone construction. The temple is located on the coastal slope. From here you can enjoy the fantastically beautiful views of nature.

                Church of Constantine and Helen

                  Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh. Originally made of wood. At the beginning of the XVII century a new church made of white limestone is built. The church undergoes the procedure of re-lighting. This fact is mentioned in the annals. In winter, the sarcophagus with the remains of St. Herman is placed in this church.

                Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh

                In the town there are also many religious buildings that have not been preserved. The places where they were located are marked with plaques. Most of these churches look like ruins today. Among the ruined churches are the following: St. Sophia and St. Nicholas Churches, the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation Parish Church, the Ascension Gate Church, the Bratsk Building and the Church of St. Herman. Almost all of them were destroyed in the first half of XX century by the Bolsheviks.

                Interesting facts. Monument of Judas

                There is a legend connected with the city about the Judas Monument, allegedly discovered on the territory of Soviet Russia. The installation of the monument allegedly was personally managed by Leon Trotsky. This famous revolutionary was sometimes called the “demon of the revolution.

                According to the legend, the format of the monument to the main biblical villain was approved by Lenin himself. It is believed that Trotsky initially wanted to erect a monument to Lucifer. However, Lenin banned this project because the installation of such monuments would indirectly confirm his belief in God. The project of the Cain monument was also rejected by the leader of the world proletariat. Therefore the revolutionaries agreed on the monument dedicated to Judas.

                According to legend, the opening of the monument took place with an orchestra and a parade from two regiments of the Red Army. After the cloth was torn off the monument, the astonished citizens saw a full-length stone human figure. The Judas monument depicted the crouching biblical antagonist with his hands in the air. It is said that the prototype for the monument was Trotsky himself.

                Of course, this story is 100% fiction. Such rumors were spread by former White Guards, forced to immigrate from the country after the victory of the Bolsheviks. There are quite a few references to the existence of monuments to Judas in Soviet Russia. In particular, the famous Danish diplomat Henning Kehler writes about the monument in his memoirs. He claimed to have witnessed its installation in 1918.

                It should be noted that many contemporaries trusted such rumors because they were hostile to the Bolsheviks. In particular, the famous Russian writer Ivan Bunin believed the information about the installation of the Judas monument. Naturally, nothing of the kind has ever happened.

                There is a perfectly logical explanation for these rumors. The commander of the Red Army who took Kazan was the famous leader of the Latvian Riflemen. His name was Jan Yudin. During the fighting this officer was killed. And the date of his death roughly coincides with the time of installation of the “Judas monument.

                In fact it was about the funeral of Jan Yudin. A monument was indeed erected to him. It is known that he was killed by an accidental shell fired by the White Army artillery. The Danish Köhler might well have confused the consonant surname with “Judas”.

                Location, how to get there, working hours of the museum.

                You can get to Sviyazhsk from Kazan in the following ways:

                1. Private car. You can get by car moving along the M7 highway in the direction of the capital of Russia. You need to go to the village of Isakovo and then follow the sign to the city. Road in a private car will take no more than sixty minutes.
                2. Steamboat. Ships to the island depart from the river station of the capital of Tatarstan. The trip takes no more than two hours. You can get on the steamer from 6.00 to 20.00. An hour before the departure of the ship you can buy tickets. During the summer period the ferries depart daily. From the first month of fall to October 16 you can reach the site only on weekends.
                3. Bus. At the bus station of the capital of Tatarstan it is possible to buy a ticket to the town. The route and the number of stops of different flights may differ. But most bus trips purposefully take tourists to look at the beauty of the city and plunge into the fascinating world of Russian antiquity. The cost of bus tickets is quite affordable.
                4. Electric train. You can also get to your destination from the capital of Tatarstan by train. However, you should know that the station “Sviyazhsk” is a few kilometers from the city itself. The railway junction is located in the neighboring village called Nizhniye Vyazovye.From there you can quickly get to the village by hitchhiking.

                Excursions. Ticket prices for museums.

                Most of the museums of the city work in a standard mode from 10 to 18 hours. The cost of visiting, as a rule, does not exceed eighty rubles. Tourists also have the opportunity to buy a single ticket to all museums of Sviyazhsk. Such a purchase is beneficial because it gives a savings of up to twenty percent.

                A visit to the site will be interesting for both adults and children. On the territory of the Horse Yard there is an opportunity to ride a horse. Children will also like it at the cultural center “Lazy Torzhok”, stylized as a medieval town. Here you can compete in archery and try on real armor. Staged jousting fights and spectacular shows are held on weekends.

                You can have lunch in the art-café “Fisherman’s Farmstead”. This place looks like an old fisherman’s hut. It has a great view of the river. There is also a cafe “Bujan” in the town. On the territory of the Horse Yard is “Traktir”. Each of the above-mentioned establishments has delicious food and affordable prices.

                Guests can stay overnight at Hotel Sviyaga, which is housed in an old 19th century almshouse. The price starts at 1,000 rubles per night.

                The best time to visit the town is summer. But a trip to this wonderful place can also be made in winter. During this time, it looks especially beautiful and interesting.

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