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Abnormal activity sightings and Tatarstan's fishing capital. Places to visit in Tetyushi

Travel along the Volga river banks and you'll get to see just how diverse and unique Tatarstan truly is. The landscapes are sure to amaze and the history behind these lands, even as recent as a century ago, make it all that much more surreal. After visiting Kamskoye Ustye, take a detour to the small town of Tetyushi. This town is home to the estate that belonged to Elizaveta Molostvova - a local historian and researcher who helped Leo Tolstoy edit his works, a museum dedicated entirely to fish and breathtaking views that could rival those of southern Europe which have been left untouched for hundreds of years.

How to get there

Tetyushi is located 150 kms outside of Kazan - approximately a 2 hour car ride. In summer, most tourists come to Tetyushi by meteor jet boat . Although, this upcoming season be sure to make the most of this mode of transport as the river jet boats stop their commutes on 30th September. The alternative options are bus or taxi. Buses run from 7:45am to 8:00pm from Kazan TSUM. The last bus from Tetyushi back to Kazan departs at 4:50pm. A one-way bus ticket costs 300 roubles, while a taxi will cost around 1,610 roubles.

Where to stay

"Rif" Mini-hotel

The "Rif" mini-hotel contains three types of rooms: suite, family and economy. A “luxe” suite costs 1,600 roubles per night and includes a bed, sofa, TV, fridge and bathroom with a shower. A family room costs 1,000 roubles and includes 2 beds, a wardrobe and a TV. Economy rooms contain 4 beds and cost 500 roubles per bed, per night, and includes a shared shower and bathroom.

Location: 20 Shkolnaya St

"Rai" Hotel

Another small hotel, located closer to the Volga offers 4 accommodation options: economy (450 roubles), 2 and 3 bed rooms (600 roubles), single rooms (1,000 - 1,200 roubles) and suites (1,500 roubles). The price includes an equipped kitchen, laundry room, Wi-Fi, car wash, a pick up service at the station, swimming pool, barbecue, gazebos and a sightseeing tour of the city. The hotel courtyard also contains a Russian wood-fired sauna.

Location: 48 Chernyshevskogo St

Where to go in Tetyushi

Tetyushi used to border the Moscow state
Observation deck on Mount Vshikha

This is the starting point for all visitors to Tetyushi. Tourists who arrive as part of a boat tour are greeted at the watchtower on Mount Vshikha by revived characters of ancient Russian fairy tales and a group of musicians and singers in traditional clothing. Among the welcome party are shooters who offer tourists a shot from a model of a 14th-15th century rifle, and a look-a-like actor portraying the merchant Pyotr Serebryakov who lived in Tetyushi in the 19th century. If however you are arriving by bus, you can still organize to have this welcome party meet you for a small fee. Head up the mountain from the pier by climbing 400 wooden steps - which in itself have become an architectural object. So much so, that it was even mentioned in the notes of Soviet writer and journalist Ilya Ilf - famous for his popular novel “Twelve Chairs”. A restored watchtower is located at the top of the mountain, originally built about 250 years ago. Back then it was used as a lighthouse for small ships, a fire watchtower and an observation post. Today, the surrounding courtyard of this watchtower is the perfect place to relax and enjoy views of the Volga from above.

Museum of Local Lore

The Tetyushi Museum of Local Lore is a short 15 minute drive away from the mountain and pier. Here, tourists are treated to local trademark liquor and a pull-apart caramel cake.

The museum was founded in the 1920s and has been moved numerous times during its almost 100 year history. It was previously located in a former men's gymnasium (now a college of civil protection), and even in the Holy Cross Exaltation Church, which was destroyed during the Soviet era. In 2005, the museum moved to its current building - the mansion of merchant Pyotr Serebryakov. Among 40,000 exhibits there are guns dating back to the time of Yemelyan Pugachev, weapons of the 1812 war, porcelain from famous factories of the Russian Empire, an 11th century chain maille, an exhibit hall with furniture of famous people originally from Tetyushi, as well as halls of military glory and even wildlife.

Museum ticket prices often change, but all information is available by phone +7 (843) 732-55-07

Museum of History of Fishing in Tetyushi

Since a month ago, in a town where the roads only ever see the odd car, you'll find the only interactive museum about the history of fishing in Tatarstan. The museum is located in a restored 19th century building, while the entrance to it features the famous 5-metre monument dedicated to the beluga. The story behind it comes from the year 1921 when local fishermen caught the portrayed 960 kg fish in the Volga. In fact, the fishing net which they used to catch it required the help of several horses to pull it out. The beluga was brought to the market square, which at that time, was the heart of city life and people immediately began to flock to the fishermen. The beluga was then weighed, measured and gutted. It contained 192 kilograms of black caviar which was distributed among the fishermen.

At the beginning of the 20th century, fishing, along with bread production played a key role in trade relations of Tetyushi. Sun-dried, smoked, salted fish was transported to Kazan and other cities. This is probably the reason why everything is connected with fish in this city, and even tour guides tend to mention the theory that man originated from fish.

Behind the carved metal gates, you will find a courtyard with exhibit pavilions and a pond. In the open wooden log cabin, you can take a peek at a typical fisherman’s house with a stove, animal hides on the walls and fishing nets. Look out for the "Mermaid's House" nearby too - a venue that hosts workshops for kids teaching them skills such as wood carving, crafts using fabric and embroidery. Across from here, there is a stove which marks a cooking workshop venue where anyone can come to learn how to cook fish soup or smoke fish. A little further down there is a fishermen’s tavern and veranda made to resemble a marina, where you can dine as a large group or host a banquet.

The museum itself is small - the main exhibits are located in just two display rooms. The neon lights inside create the illusion that you are entering an underwater kingdom, especially once you step foot on the transparent floors with sand, symbolizing the seabed. The museum showcases previously archived photographs, some of which were used to aid in recreating the looks of market trading stalls and cabins of captains of fishing vessels.

The museum entrance fee is 100 roubles for adults and 20 roubles for children, and if you also wish to partake in a guided tour and workshops, 150 and 70 roubles, respectively. And if you're after something to remind you of the trip, be sure to check out the souvenirs selection available at the museum.

Trinity Cathedral

When it was built in 1773, Trinity Cathedral became the first stone building in Tetyushi. In the 1930s, the church was used as a driving school, which adapted almost the entire space to the needs of their students: they plastered over hand-painted paintings and handed out icon paintings (those that had not yet been destroyed) to the locals. However by 1990, the temple once again opened its doors as a church building, and its paintings and icons had to be collected one by one from all over the city. As for the original interiors, only the 18th century tiled floors were preserved although even today, the marks from cars driving over them remain. When you visit, take note of the carved wooden poles - even masters of this decorative art come here to appreciate the intricate details.

Shooting Range

Tetyushi also has an Olympic Reserve Specialized School for trap shooting. A very scenic view of the Volga opens up for students at the training site. However the highlight of a visit here is of course the opportunity to shoot from a training weapon. The shooting range usually hosts organized tour groups, however the hospitable locals will show you the ropes even if you decide to visit without a group. Under the supervision of a professional trainer, you can shoot at plates or targets - each shot will cost 50 roubles. Locals are proud of this school as during its 55 years of operation, almost one hundred Masters of Sports - one of the highest awarded honours for Russian sportspeople, graduated from here.

Molostvov Manor

This estate, situated in the architectural and nature park of Dolgaya Polyana is considered an interesting architectural monument by some, however many consider it a place of abnormal activity. Drivers report that their cars begin to act strange around this area, cell phone reception suddenly drops, clocks start telling the wrong time, and locals talk of the ghost of the late manor’s mistress who haunts the dishonest builders restoring the estate. However, this isn’t the main reason you should visit. Vladimir and Elizaveta Molostvova were spouses of noble origin who lived in the house until 1936. They were relatives and friends of the well-known literary, scientific and artistic elite - Yevgeny Baratynsky, Alexander Pushkin, Vasily Zhukovsky, Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Dal and many others. Elizaveta Molostvova helped Tolstoy edit his collection of works, and even sent her own works to him. Her letters to the famous writer can be found on display in the estate.

Elizaveta Molostvova wrote poetry, and while many of them were lost, here is one of the few that survived:

In this world, I lament your tender affection,
Sweet, surprised gaze,
Golden sunset dipping into the quiet fields’ direction,
Above the sleeping earth of patterned stars’ haze.

I grieve the summer day on the napping sands
Fields of tall fragrant flowers;
Hot sunny mornings, and in the forest lands
Birds sonant singing overpowers.

I mourn for the carnations right here as a centrepiece,
From the hand of my dear,
And autumn evening peace
By the fireplace with you talking near.

Oh my books - my wise friends since youth,
I deplore the keepers of wondrous creations.
But the joys of this earth, like a fading light, in truth,
I vow to take with me to other dimensions.

Vladimir Molostvov planted a fruit orchard in Dolgaya Polyana which featured trees brought from abroad. He planted a leafy alley which has a romantic story attached to it. Vladimir did not know how his bride would arrive - by water or by carriage. In order to surprise her as she arrived to the manor, he planted two larch tree alleys going from east to west and from north to south of the estate. Vladimir also arranged for the bottom of the upper pond to be laid with wooden flooring so that Elizaveta could swim without her legs sinking into the pond algae.

The estate was designed in such a way so that the windows were positioned looking out to the house of the couple’s relatives in the Three Lakes village on the opposite bank of the Volga. It also featured a small tower with illuminated glass where Elizaveta liked to record her phenological observations, the arrival of various birds, and dates of the appearance of plant buds. During the life of the owners, the house had electricity, hot water and a bath. This was most unusual for its time, and the mechanics of the water supply system remains a mystery even to tour guides today. The house has no stoves - only fireplaces. Nevertheless, it was well heated throughout as chimneys were built into the walls along which warm air rose from the basement.

Today, the site around the estate has been designed with tourists in mind – fresh paving stones along the paths, and benches and gazebos placed around the property where you can enjoy a cup of tea or even dinner with a view of Lysaya Polyana and Kamennaya Polyana. The manor itself is constantly being updated with new additions – for example you can climb your way up to the renovated rooms with a fireplace by following the preserved red staircase and look at exhibition stands to see some of the preserved belongings of the Molostvovs. Around 70% of the house however is still empty, waiting for either repairs or furniture that was once lost. Below the observation deck, you may notice the crosses behind a plain-looking fence - these mark the final resting place of the Molostvov spouses, while the path going in the opposite direction, leads to a freshwater spring.

Where to eat

“Jasmine” Cafe

Jasmine - an eastern themed café is conveniently located in the centre of the town. The menu (just like its décor) isn’t fancy — just good home style cooking, pies, baked goods and desserts.

Location: 19 K Libknekhta St

“Dom Chaya” (House of Tea)

A cozy café nestled inside a typical Tatar style house which served drinks, sweet goodies as well as affordable lunches. The average bill is 200 roubles.

Location: 53Б Lenina St

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