Bolgar Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve

Location: Spassky district, Bolgar

The Bolgar reserve is situated to the south of the town. Nowadays this place is not only a most important tourist centre and a constant object of interest for scholars, historians, archaeologists, orientalists, art historians and so on but also a place of pilgrimage for Muslims seeking to complete a small “hadj” to holy places. Over the centuries the architectural monuments which have come down to us have stirred the imagination of many people. Peter the Great who was here in 1722 issued an edict for the protection of this territory. Catherine the Second while visiting these places in 1767 responded in the following words: “…whatever has remained here was built of very good stone, the Tatars show great honour to their place and travel to these ruins to pray to God”. But a certain persecutor, Archbishop Luka of Kazan under the late Empress Elizaveta, grew envious and destroyed a great deal and out of his built a church and cellars and used it for a monastery. Although there is an edict of Peter the Great to do no harm and not to destroy this ancient place.

The Bolgar architectural-archaeological complex covers 380 hectares. It consists of the Bolgar settlement (the 10th-15th centuries) – a cultural layer of the centre of Volga Bolgaria – the town of Bolgar, the economic, political and cultural centre of Volga Bolgaria. And also the Bolgar ulus (nomad camp of settlement) of the Golden Horde within the bounds of the fortifications in the form of a rampart and moat 5.63 km long, which surrounded its territory from south, west and east from the 13th to the beginning of the 14th centuries.

Their remnants of monumental stone and brick structures of the second half of the 13th to 14th centuries – The Northern and Eastern Mausoleums, the Chyornaya (Black) Chamber, the Malyi (Small) Minaret, the Khan’s Burial Vault – have been preserved on the territory of the settlement. As well as stone and brick ruins of buildings of public and religious significance like the Cathedral Mosque, the Red, White and Greek Chambers, The Khan’s Bathhouse and mausoleums. They have survived from the once populous town of Bolgar in the period of its prosperity in the second half of the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries.

At the present time, more than 100 remnants of ancient buildings have been identified. The ancient part of the town from Bolgar times in the north-eastern part of the monument dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries has been discovered, the growth of the territory of the settlement has been traced and dwelling, artisan and also architectural and defensive buildings have been studied. This is a Muslim holy place, a place of pilgrimage as well as a place for tourist excursions and a place for holding international events (the 1100 anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria, and the Ist and IInd World Congresses of Tatars, etc).

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