Yelabuga, Republic of Tatarstan (Russia)
According to businesscarriers, Elabuga is located on the right bank of the Kama River at the confluence of the Toima River, 20 km from Naberezhnye Chelny.
In the 10-11 centuries, on the site of the modern city, the Volga Bulgars founded a fortress to protect the borders of their state. Gradually, a trading settlement was formed here, which was destroyed in 1236 by the Mongol-Tatars. After the conquest of the Kazan Khanate in 1614, a monastery was founded on this site, at which the village of Trekhsvyatskoye was formed. In the middle of the 17th century, the main shrine of the present Yelabuga was found in the monastery – the icon of the Savior Not Made by Hands. The monastery existed until 1764. In 1780, the village of Trekhsvyatskoe received the status of a county town, which became known as Yelabuga. Yelabuga was a major trading center of the Kama region. Most of the urban population were merchants. The most famous merchant dynasty of those times was the dynasty of Stakheev merchants. The entire grain market of the Kama region was in their hands. At the beginning of the 19th century, the first industrial enterprises appeared in Yelabuga, and by the end of the 19th century there were about 12 of them. In 1954, oil was discovered near Yelabuga.
Yelabuga still retains the appearance of an old county town. There are many historical sights and many examples of merchant architecture of the 19th century. The layout of the Old Town is a network of straight streets lined with merchant mansions and wooden houses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The ensemble of urban development is under state protection. In order to preserve the historical buildings and natural landscape of Yelabuga, the Yelabuga State Historical, Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve was created in 1989, which combines about 700 buildings of cultural and historical value.
The main square of Yelabuga – Memory Square with a memorial in honor of those who died in the Great Patriotic War. Embankment adjoins the square. The embankment stretches along the high bank of the Toyma River and is the main “facade” of the city. Local residents and guests of the city love to walk here in the evenings. From the Embankment, you can see the Cathedral of the Savior Not Made by Hands, located near the cliff. This five-domed cathedral was consecrated in 1821. Inside it, the remains of murals have been preserved, in the creation of which famous academic artists I.A. Osokin, Bruni and the Vereshchagin brothers participated. Next to the cathedral is a 70-meter five-tiered bell tower. It can be seen far outside the city. In addition, in the historical part of the city there are Nikolskaya and Pokrovskaya churches of the 19th century and several museums.
The last days of the life of the famous Russian poetess Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva are connected with Yelabuga. During the Great Patriotic War, Tsvetaeva and her son were evacuated to Yelabuga. It was in Yelabuga on August 31, 1941 that the famous Russian poetess committed suicide. Today the cultural center of Marina Tsvetaeva operates in the city. It is located in the house where the poetess lived. The expositions of the center tell about the life and work of Tsvetaeva, especially about the last days of her life. The center has a rich library, which contains the works of Marina Tsvetaeva. Every year on August 31, a Memorial Day is held in the center. The grave of Marina Tsvetaeva is also located in Yelabuga. She was buried at the Peter and Paul Cemetery.
Also Yelabuga known as the birthplace of the world famous artist Ivan Shishkin. In memory of this, the Shishkin House Museum was opened on the city Embankment. This is the only museum in the country dedicated to the famous landscape painter. In the house where the museum’s expositions are located, Shishkin spent his childhood and youth. Inside it, the interiors of that time were recreated, which most fully reflect the atmosphere of the merchant life of the 19th century. The exposition of the house-museum consists of two departments – the memorial and the art gallery. The art gallery is located on the first floor. Authentic graphic and pictorial works of the artist are exhibited here. On the second floor there is a memorial section of the museum, which includes Shishkin’s room and his workshop.
In Yelabuga Nadezhda Durova, the first female officer, hero of the Great Patriotic War of 1812, was born. In her honor, the museum-estate Durova was opened in the city. Here Nadezhda Durova spent the last years of her life. In the five halls of the museum, you can see the interiors of the early and mid-19th century, household items, military costumes and weapons of the early 19th century. The grave of Nadezhda Durova is located at the Trinity Cemetery. Of the museums of the city, one can also single out the museum of local history. The basis of the museum compositions are archaeological finds in the vicinity of Yelabuga (objects of the Ananyino culture of the 8th-3rd centuries BC and fragments of Bulgar ceramics of the 12th-14th centuries), as well as objects of religious worship of local Muslims and Christians, clothing and jewelry of the Tatars, Russians, Udmurts and Mari, objects of their everyday life, products of the main handicrafts of the region, furniture of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, products of the factories of the 19th century of the Ushkov dynasty and photographs of famous people whose names are associated with the city.
The main tourist attraction of Yelabuga is the tract Chertovo gorodishche in the southwestern part of the city on a cape about 200 m high. Here, in the period from the 10th to the 16th centuries, there was a fortified settlement of the Bulgars, from which the remains of some buildings have survived to this day. The settlement is a unique archaeological area and covers an area of 30 hectares. Here are traces of three lines of fortifications (shafts and ditches), the remains of a fortress, the Cathedral Mosque, an analogue of which can only be found in Tunisia, and the only Bulgarian stone building of pre-Mongolian times that has survived in Russia – a tower, in the construction of which Arab masters took part.
In the vicinity of Yelabuga on the Toima River there is another archaeological site – the Ananyinsky burial ground. It belongs to the first millennium BC. In the 8-5 centuries BC. this place was a large trading center and a large settlement of the Turkic tribes. The items found in the burial ground made it possible to single out a separate Ananyino culture. Now they are housed in many museums around the world.
10 km from Yelabuga on both banks of the Kama there is a national park “Lower Kama”. It is located on the territory of two administrative districts of the Republic of Tatarstan: Yelabuga and Tukaevsky. The park was created in 1999 to protect the plant and animal communities of the Kama River and to preserve the cultural landscape of this part of the republic. The area of the national park is 26.6 thousand hectares. On the territory of the park there are numerous oxbow lakes, floodplain meadows and extensive forests. Pine forests, spruce forests, larch predominate in the forests, as well as birch and aspen. The most valuable forest areas of the park are the Beloussky forest, where Siberian fir grows (this is the southernmost point of the Siberian fir range), Bolshoi Bor (the richest forest in the Republic of Tatarstan), Maly Bor and the man-made forest Tanaevskaya Dacha, restored in the 20th century on agricultural land. About 40 species of mammals live in the national park, including elk, roe deer, wild boar, pine marten, squirrel, weasel, beaver, muskrat, otter and raccoon dog. There are 135 species of birds, including 131 nesting species and several rare species – mute swan, eagle owl, hoopoe, corncrake, white-tailed eagle, marsh harrier and field harrier.
There are many trails in the reserve. In addition to walking, water and bus routes, during which you can get acquainted with the local nature, there are cultural routes. These include the “Shishkinsky Territory”, passing through the pine forests where Ivan Shishkin painted his paintings, routes through the ancient village of Maltsevo and the village of Lugovoe, the route to the Holy Key of Panteleimon the Healer near Yelabuga, and routes to the Ananyevsky burial ground and the Elabuga Devil’s settlement. On the territory of the Nizhnyaya Kama National Park, amateur fishing with a bait and spinning is allowed. Pike, pike perch, bersh, carp, sterlet, bream, burbot, catfish, blue bream and loach are found in the waters of the Kama and numerous lakes. For accommodation tourists are offered about 200 recreation centers.