Bolgar State Reserve of History and Architecture was established in 1969 with the aim to preserve historical and cultural monuments of the Middle Volga and Kama peoples. The reserve comprises monuments of the largest cities in Volga-Kama Bolgari, Bolgar, and Suvar. As a subdivision, the reserve incorporates the Spassk-Kuibyshev City Museum of History. Museum stock of over 80,000 items mostly the items of archaeological excavations.
History of Bolgar settlement
The Bolgar reserve is situated to the south of the Bolgar town. Nowadays this place is the most important tourist centre and a constant object of interest for scholars, historians, archaeologists, orientalists, art historians and many others. Also this place is a pilgrimage destination 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 and 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. He built a church and cellars and used it for a monastery. Although there were an edict of Peter the Great to do no harm and not to destroy this ancient place.
The remnants of monumental stone and brick structures of the second half of the 13th to 14th centuries include the Northern and Eastern Mausoleums, the Chyornaya (Black) Chamber, the Malyi (Small) Minaret, the Khan’s Burial Vault. They 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.