Location: Alekseevsky district, Bilyarsk, Arbuzov Str. 2, the village of Bilyar – Bilyar State Historical, Archaeological and Natural Museum-Reserve
This is one of the most important places linked with the history of the Bulgar State. Bilyar (from the Bulgar – “great”) was the biggest of the towns not only of Bulgaria (Suvar, Oshel’, Dzhuketau, etc) but also in medieval Eurasia as a whole (according to archaeologists, bigger than London or Paris of that time).
From the 10th to the 13th centuries Bilyar was the capital of the Bulgar State. Its area reached 10 million m². The territory included a citadel, inner-city, outer city, and trading quarter. In the citadel protected by a wooden wall up to 10 m thick, there was a large cathedral mosque, royal cemetery, palace complex, storerooms, and workshop. Consisting of big white stone, brick, and wooden buildings the town made a striking impression on travellers. One of them, Dzhevaliki, compared its buildings with those of Rum (Constantinople). In the autumn, of 1236, the Mongols destroyed Bilyar. In the 14th-16th centuries, Bilyar was an ordinary town of Bulgaria and the Kazan Khanate. In the 17th-18th centuries, it was a fortified town along the old Zakam’e line which protested against raids by Bashkirs and Nogais. In the 19th century, it was famous for its pottery.
About the museum-reserve
“Many generations of scientists have discovered about 500 archaeological sites on the territory of the Alekseevsky region of the Republic of Tatarstan, from the Stone Age to the late Middle Ages. Some of them are unique.
In 1977, on the initiative of Professor A.Kh. Khalikov, the Bilyar Archaeological Museum was created. It was located in a 2-storey building at the end of the 19th century. On the second floor, a museum exposition was built, where archaeological materials from the excavations of the Bilyar archaeological expedition and objects of a historical and everyday nature were presented.
The Bilyar State Historical, Archaeological and Natural Museum-Reserve was established in 1992. The total area of the reserve was 2392 hectares. The reserve includes the historical and archaeological museum, the Bilyar settlement, the Balynguz settlement, the Gorkinskoe and Nikolsk-Baranskoe settlements, natural landscape and historical and cultural monuments, a cemetery with a chapel-crypt of the famous organic chemist A.M. Butlerov, the House-Museum of Academician A.E. Arbuzov, the architectural and religious complex “Holy Key”.
About the Bilyar settlement
The largest museum object of the reserve is the Bilyar settlement – the archaeological remains of the capital of the Volga-Kama Bulgaria from 10th-13th century, one of the largest monuments in Europe. This is the pride of the region and the whole republic. The huge size of the city is what first of all strikes not only tourists but even professional archaeologists who find themselves on Bilyar land. Bilyar is a whole complex of monuments, which includes, in addition to fortified parts, vast suburbs, necropolises, country estates, etc.
The surroundings of the museum-reserve
The whole complex occupies about 800 hectares. One of the most attractive monuments of the Bilyar Museum-Reserve for tourists is the “Holy Key” tract, covered with legends and legends, located at the foot of the Khuzhalar Tava mountain. For many centuries, the tract has been an object of pilgrimage.
In 1997, at the initiative of the General Director of JSC “Tatneft” R. G. Galeev and the head of the Administration of the Alekseevsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan A.I. Demidov, with the active participation of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, scientists from the Institute of Sh. Marjani of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan, work was carried out to reconstruct and improve the ancient place of pilgrimage.
At present, the Bilyar Museum-Reserve is one of the most famous places for recreation and tourism in the country. It is difficult to find a person who has not heard of Bilyar – the Great City, the famous “Holy Spring”, “Khujalar Tava”, and Balinguz”.
Based on information from the museum’s sources