Incredible beauty near Kazan, the luxurious nature of Mari El is a mini-journey to natural attractions spiced with a pinch of national flavor and cultural experiences. The scenario is suitable for travel at any time of year, but you should be aware of the weather, as it is assumed a lot of hiking (including outdoors). With a few exceptions, all mentioned objects are always available - it is worth considering only the days of the week. The journey does not cost a penny: more than half of the locations are free to visit. Everything as we like: beautiful, cheap and informative!
This day will be full of adventures and trips to unusual places that are located near Kazan. We will explore some of them, and in the evening we will go to Yoshkar-Ola, where we will stay overnight.
In half an hour from the Blue lakes you can find the Kazan Planetarium. Be sure to come here, even if you are traveling without children: interactive tours and full-dome programs will appeal to everyone without exception. *The most convenient session for us starts at 12:30 (except Fridays) and lasts about 1.5 hours. *
It's time for a refreshment! The only cafe nearby is near Raifa Monastery. A choice of unpretentious travelers is offered hot kebabs, salads, pies, tea and coffee. And for those who want to taste lean dishes, I recommend the cafe "Monastic meal" near the walls of the ancient monastery. It was opened quite recently, but is in great demand due to the cozy atmosphere and convenient format of service.
On sunny days there's nothing more pleasant than stretching on wooden pontoons on the shore of Lake Raifa. The peace of this place will not be disturbed by the croaking of frogs. According to the legend, exhausted monks asked God to deliver them from annoying "songs" that didn't keep silent all day long. The Almighty heeded their pleas and the frogs kept silent.
Pilgrims and tourists come here to touch the Orthodox shrines and enjoy the peace and quiet. On the territory of the monastery complex, which dates back to 1613, there is a chapel: here you can draw water from the consecrated spring.
A couple of minutes by car - and you in the arboretum of the Volga-Kama Reserve. The park is small, but curious: it's a wonderful place for walks. Its collection consists of more than 530 species of trees and plants of temperate zone and a number of exotic species. *Bear in mind that the park is only open to the public during the spring and autumn, and cash offices are open until 4 p.m. (the arboretum closes at 5 p.m.).
And here we are in Yoshkar-Ola! You can start to get acquainted with the local culture at "Marie" restaurant. It's one of the two national cuisine restaurants in the capital. Three-layer pancakes "kommandelna", dumplings from pike, sweet koloboks "Ўяча" from dough and honey - everything here is delicious, unusual and inexpensive. By the way, on weekends the restaurant hosts Mari disco: another adventure!
The second day we will fully spend in Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of the Republic of Mari El. Once little-known backwater town in the last five years experiencing a real tourist boom. This is because Yoshkar-Ola has become an open-air museum of architectural replicas.
We'll start day two with a hearty breakfast right at the hotel. Alternatively, there is the "Simple Food" culinary market with the freshest croissants or any other nearby cafe.
Leave the car near the hotel. Yoshkar-Ola needs to be walked! Let's go out on Victory Boulevard, which stretches from the Druzhba Stadium - the most athletic people will go for a morning run here. Opposite the maternity hospital, which will be on the right arm, there is a symbolic sculptural composition "Happy Family" - rub the boy's nose for good luck and hurry on!
Victory Boulevard you will walk in 10 minutes. It rests on a complex of important city monuments: 26-meter Monument of Military Glory with eternal fire lit on the day of the 30th anniversary of Victory - May 9, 1975. Here you can also see the monument to the soldiers who died in Afghanistan.
The Park of Culture and Recreation is a favorite place for locals to relax. It is especially beautiful and fun in summer: there are rides (mostly children's) and Ferris wheel, horseback rides are offered. In the center of the small park you can see an unusual monument "Tree of Life", embodying the spiritual component of life of the Mari people.
Right behind the PKiO arch begins the 2.5-kilometer Chavayna Boulevard. It is named after the Mari poet Sergei Grigorievich Chavayn. On both sides of the boulevard there are cozy restaurants and coffee shops - but a little patience: there is a lot of interesting things ahead!
Stop at the square for a few minutes. Yoshkar-Ola wasn't always like that. Once upon a time, this place had a wild beach and thick willow thickets. Today we see here a majestic church with golden domes, neat colorful houses, a fountain - change of the city to the face! On top of the Annunciation Tower there is an observation deck, and in the arch of the building in summer there is a street piano, behind which often sit real virtuosos. If you're lucky, you'll find the instrument of Felix Ginzburg, an old music teacher, a jazz legend of Yoshkar-Ola.
We will walk to another beautiful square along the colorful embankment, having glanced on the way to the Tsarevokokshaysky Kremlin. It is new, but it was erected on the place of an old stockaded town, destroyed by fire in 1696. We cross the bridge, and here we are on the spacious and elegant Patriarchal Square. A curious entertainment for tourists is the "12 Apostles" clock. Every day, every three hours (from 9:00 to 21:00), a sculptural procession of figures of the Apostles marching to the bell ringing and church chanting begins on the tower. The figures symbolize the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem.
From Patricia Square, walk along the other side of the river to the Tower of Friendship of Nations. On the way - near boat and catamaran hire - you'll meet the monument to Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Local residents are already tired of joking about the unusual taste of Leonid Markelov, former head of RME. What can we do: the head considers Grace and Rainier a model of a married couple, and at the same time wishes Yoshkar-Ole the glory of the Principality of Monaco. By the way, for the past three years Markelov has been under arrest - on suspicion of taking bribes.
There are many cozy restaurants on the embankment of the river Kokshagi. One of them is next to Gogol Bridge - an ideal place to catch your breath after endless monuments and churches.
Let's keep walking. You'll go to the right, as they say, to Amsterdam. New, needleworked buildings are partly reminiscent of the architecture of the Dutch capital, but have their own recognizable features. From the monument to Pushkin and Onegin we'll turn left to plunge into the less festive, but equally charming Yoshkar-Ola for a while.
Check out the National Art Gallery for an hour. One of the museum halls is dedicated entirely to the work of local artists. And the ground floor souvenir shop is supplied with goods and paintings by Mari craftsmen. The facade of the gallery has a massive chime clock with moving figures. Every hour a toy donkey with an icon of the Mother of God on his back leaves the gate. In the best traditions of the "church" Yoshkar-Ola.
It's a crime not to go to Yoshkar-Ola and pet a Yoshkin cat! The name of the monument hints at the popular expression "Yoshkin cat", which has a special meaning for locals: in everyday life they call their town "Yoshka". By all the rules, the sculpture should be handled as follows: *" Say hello to the cat in Mari and rub his leg " *" for good luck rubbing the cat's nose *" Whisper a cherished wish to the left ear *" and, of course, take a picture! * *
Both many years ago and today, Lenin Square is a place for city festivities. It is here that a huge Christmas tree is set up in winter, and in summer parades and festivals are held. The Volga Region Technological University and the National Drama Theatre named after Lenin adjoin the square. The square is adjoined by the Volga Technological University and the M. Shketan National Drama Theatre, which in the last couple of years has been experiencing a second birth.
It's time for dinner! A few minutes walk from the square, in an old brick building hid a small burger "RAD", which was loved by connoisseurs of rare Craft beer and juicy meat. The bar was opened by a local guy who had mastered the basics of restaurant business in a prestigious school in Switzerland. The restaurant is tiny, but it has no coziness and style.
Right in front of the burger room is the Mari opera and ballet theatre named after Erika Sapaev. You can attend performances only in the "season", from September to May (some events are held in summer). The theatre preserves the best traditions of Russian classical ballet, and the local company regularly tours around the world - and always with great success. If ballet and opera make you bored, spend the rest of the day at the cinema (their Yoshkar-Ola Three), bowling club or bar with live music.
Massive wooden tables, dim light, richness of textures and shades in the interior - the restaurant "Guests" is perfect for a cozy end of the day and a glass of delicious wine. Ah yes, they cook here very tasty!
Early in the morning we leave Yoshkar-Ola to learn about the life of the Mari people in the ethno park, breathe air in pine forests and drink healing water from springs. Dress comfortably in the weather as well: you will have to walk a lot in the open air. We'll have dinner in Kazan, so you won't be late and rent a car on time.
After breakfast, we head straight to the village of Kim, located 17 km from the city center. In this tiny village there is a stylized interactive platform "Una Kudo", a colorful model of the Mari yard. Here visitors tell and show how the Mari people lived, with whom they fought, how they worked, who they prayed to and how they prayed. You should make an appointment for the tour in advance. There is a full (2.5 hours) and simplified (1.5 hours) type of excursion, as well as thematic holidays on certain dates of the year (New Year, Pancake Day). Fun, accessible and very informative!
A 25-minute drive from Kim is the cozy village of Korta. In winter you can go skiing or sledging here, in the remaining months - take a short walk through the picturesque forest to the holy spring. Near the spring, the locals have built a wooden bathhouse, where you can dive into the creek in the warm and cool seasons.
There will be no place for a hearty lunch until the next attraction. I recommend a snack at a cafe at the Sibneft gas station or roadside restaurants nearby.
One of the ways to discover the beauty of the Mari Chaudra National Park is to leave the car near the Maple Mountain sanatorium and head deep into the forest on foot. It can be especially beautiful here in the golden autumn. In the heart of the shady pine forest are hidden springs Green Key and Boiling Square, and a little further flows the river Ilet, which has long been loved by fans of alloys.
Legend has it that once upon a time there was an old Kazansky Trakt, and the detachments of the national hero, rioter Yemelyan Pugachev, set up a halt in the shadow of the oak tree. The 28-meter high giant has become a popular attraction: people come here to make a wish, tie a ribbon for happiness and recharge the energy of the century giant.
Lake Yalchik is one of the most full-flowing and picturesque lakes in Mari El. You can safely come here for the whole day and even for a week: cozy recreation centers offer all conditions for this. In the meantime, let's have a look at the lake for an hour: enjoy the pre-set beauty and finally breathe in the fresh forest air...
Here we are in Kazan! After a long walk in the woods, a serious appetite has played out. On the way to the airport, where you have to leave your car, you will meet hundreds of cafes and restaurants - among them "Ancient Bukhara", a teahouse and a colorful restaurant of authentic Uzbek cuisine.