Elabuga – is an ancient town located in the European part of Russia, near Kazan city, on the banks of the Kama River, surrounded by centuries-old forests, those that were praised in the paintings of the great Russian artist of the 19th century Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin.
Inimitable Yelabuga, which lately celebrated 1,000 anniversary, is ready to open its secrets to its visitors and tell unheard story that will take you hundreds of years back, in the mysterious past of the Russian Empire.
To feel the ancient spirit of the city better and deeper, while staying at Yelabuga you should forget about any transportation options and move around the city on foot. It is better if you start your tour from the main street – Kazanskaya. There is an open-air museum of the 19th century architecture.
Old houses and mansions, like unarmed platoon of hussars, tirelessly being on guard for centuries, incredulously stare at every passer through hooded eyes of large windows. Once you have followed this street, you begin to feel the ancient Russian spirit.
Marketing war for the consumer’s attention, that swamped the most of Russia, is almost not known in this town. It does not mean that there is absolutely no advertising, just it is much less than in other cities, Yelabuga wondrously succeed in keeping its individuality. Here you can see how modern shops are in perfect harmony with the facades of the old houses. Here, in the old building on the Kazanskaya street, modestly settles the comfortable museum-theater “inn”. Be sure to take a look at this place. This is a small restaurant in the style of Russian 19th-century inn, where you can enjoy Russian folk cuisine and taste the dishes that were served in the 19th century.
After seeing all the curiosities and historical sights of Kazan on this street, turn into the Spasskaya street. It is where the majestic Cathedral of the Holy Savior is located.
The cathedral was erected in the period from 1808 to 1816 on donations from merchants. Yelabuga has a lot of religious buildings: churches, cathedrals and chapels, but the Cathedral of the Holy Savior is considered the most important in the city.
Built in Russian classic style it is a complete composition of the five-story high bell tower, whose height is more than 70 meters, and the five-domed church, that are interconnected by long refectory. The cathedral is named after the icon, which in the 18th century saved the village of Elabuga from Bashkir rebellion.
According to the old legend, the icon was painted by the artist from the village Krasnoe. One night he had a dream where a stranger ordered him to paint the icon of the Holy Savior. At the same time the same stranger came into the dream of the local farmer and told him to go to Krasnoe and find there the icon-painter. But the farmer did not believe in higher powers that came to him in his dream. The farmer had the same dream for several times and still did not want to go to look after the icon-painter, and as a result of his attitude he got seriously ill. For a long time he could not recover. And then he realised what great sin he made when disobeyed the higher powers. The farmer repented and went to Krasnoe. He came on the day when the icon-painter finished his painting, found him, and brought the icon to his native village. The icon was put in the wooden chapel, where people began to go and worship it. Soon people began to talk about its healing power, and it was decided to build the cathedral for the icon. At the same time in the Orenburg province the rebellion under the leadership of Bashkir Akai, notorious fro extreme cruelty and hatred of the Christian religion, broke out. And when Akai had occupied the nearby town Menzelinsk and was on the way to the village of Elabuga, people in the cathedral began to pray, asking the icon for the protection. The higher powers heard their prayers for help and came to protect the city from the Bashkir invasion. Strong wind rose above the ground on the north side, it gathered all the smoke and ash from the fire left by the rebels in the devastated lands, and blew it in their eyes, blinding them. Since then, the icon became the patroness of the land. And right until the socialist revolution there were regular annual processions with the icon to the nearby town Menzelinsk.
Well, after the hearty meal at the theater-restaurant and the visit to the cathedral you can fearlessly visit the Devil at his Devil settlement, the place that is considered the unofficial symbol of the city. The Devil settlement is an ancient stone building in the form of an old tower, located on a high hill.
According to the old urban legend, based on the records of the Russian priest Ivan Glazatov, this tower was built by the devil, who fell in love with the daughter of the priest and wanted to marry her. The priest said he would give his consent to the marriage only if the devil built him a temple during one night. All the night the devil built the walls of the church, but the roosters crowed before the temple was completely finished, and the devil did not have time to finish a roof and a cross. Thus the unfinished temple became the tower.
It is better to plan a trip to Elabuga for the end of July – beginning of August. At this time in Yelabuga, near Shishkin ponds, there is an annual fair, which attracts skilled craftsman and artisans from all over Russia who present their works for sale.
Shishkin ponds are the most picturesque sights of the city. There are two ponds with fountains, streams and several beautiful bridges with railings. Shishkin ponds emerged in the 1830s as a gift of the great artist to Yelabuga residents.
During the fair, which lasts for three days, you can not only buy souvenirs, but also enjoy the performance of folk groups, puppeteers and circus actors and acrobats. You can enjoy the whole process of manufacturing products of arts and crafts, visiting the city of artists. Here you can not only see the process of the work of a blacksmith, a potter or a weaver, but also try yourself as a prentice.