The Volga is the largest river in Europe and it is one of Tatarstan’s most vivid landmarks. First it crosses the Republic from the west to the east but then it changes direction in the proximity of Kazan turning south. Within the Republic the river runs for 177 kilometers. Its width around Kazan is about 1 kilometer, whereas at the offing of the Kama river, in Kuybyshev Reservoir, it is 35 kilometers wide!
There are other big rivers in Tatarstan but most of them are the Volga’s affluents. For instance, the Kama runs for almost 380 kilometers within the Tatarstan territory, the Belaya for about 60, and Vyatka for about 50 km.
From the depths of the centuries come the many legends about the “mother river”, little villages on its shores and old robbers who were on the pad around those parts. One of such stories tells about an argument between the Volga and the Kama about who should be whose tributary. The Kama decided to cheat and dig its way under the Volga. It made an agreement with a kite so that the latter would squawk when the Kama comes out from the other place. However, the kite was noticed by a golden eagle, chased it and made it squawk out of fright! And the Kama was right in the middle of the Volga at that moment – so it rushed from underground and got right into the Volga!