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Your Chistopol travel guide. The must-see spots in Butlerov’s hometown.

Located 140 kms out of Kazan, this city was a sanctuary and source of inspiration for the likes of Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Arseny Tarkovsky and many others. Some may be familiar with Chistopol because of the Vostok watches manufactured here, which were made famous by cosmonaut Georgy Grechko who wore them during his trip to space. Today this city is basically an open-air museum - 140 cultural heritage sites are concentrated within it, waiting for visitors to uncover something new at every step of the way. And although cell tower reception may be weak, the technological isolation is all part of the fun on your trip to the homeland of one of Russia’s most famous chemists, Alexander Butlerov, where you are basically traveling into a different historical era. Take a look at why you need to add Chistopol to your list of places to visit.

How to get there

Numerous scheduled buses regularly run between Kazan and Chistopol every day where a one-way trip will take around 2.5 – 3 hours. Buses run from Kazan Central Station with an average price of 280 roubles, or you can pre-book a seat on a bus run by a private company which picks up passengers from the Koltso Shopping Mall for around 250 roubles (these operate between 7:30am and 7:30pm on weekdays and until 8:30pm on Sundays). Although unfortunately you cannot swim along the river to Chistopol, you can still opt for a scenic trip to the city as many tour agencies offer river cruises that make a stop there (most of these Kama River cruises start in Perm where you can also choose to board). The fastest way to get to Chistopol however is to travel by car which takes around 2 – 2.5 hours. The cheapest option is to use the car sharing app BlaBlaCar where the average one-way price is 200 roubles. The same trip in a taxi will cost around 1,300 roubles. If you have the opportunity, make a day of it and be sure to cross the scenic bridge over Kama in Sorochye Gory and make a stop in Alexeyevskoye village. 

Alexeyevskoye village

If you follow highway P239 and make a turn just after the bridge, you’ll end up at Alexeyevskoye village. Its main attraction is the 35-metre Resurrection Cathedral, which hosts the annual “Alexeyevskye Perezvony” (Alexeyevskye Chimes) bell ringing festival attracting bell-ringers from all over Russia. The village is also home to one of two remaining factories that produce decorative weaving in Russia. During WWII, the factory switched to manufacturing matches, soap, salt and other household items, and then returned back to weaving in 1968. Today the factory produces souvenirs and gift sets as well as clothing which they make using wooden spinning machines. Tours are run here regularly during which you are taken around the factory floor and their gift shop. The price per ticket is 150 roubles, and for an extra 50 roubles you can also take away with you a small napkin made by the factory. During the tour, children will also be well entertained with a workshop about how to make dolls out of yarn.

Where to stay

Chistopol offers tourists an array of accommodation options - ranging from self-serviced apartments to resorts and hotels. One of these is the “Chistopol” Hotel with 44 rooms. A double standard room (the most budget option) costs 1,100 roubles per person, while a suite costs 3,000 roubles. The hotel is conveniently located in the central part of the city, within short walking distance from the city's main entertainment centre which includes a cinema, the Embankment, as well as most of the museums and cathedrals. The room price includes a buffet breakfast, Wi-Fi and free parking. Extra services such as a hairdresser, dentist, taxi or laundry can also be easily arranged.

Sightseeing in Chistopol

Kama Embankment 

Most of Chistopol's main attractions are scattered along Karl Marx Street which runs through the entire city. The street's starting point is the Kama Embankment. With its blue and white gates, and the blue of the Kama River behind it, it'll be the first thing you'll see as you enter the city - you can't miss it. The area has a playground, gazebos that look out to the picturesque panoramic views of the river, and a stage that is normally used during city holidays. If you stand with your back to the river, you will be able to see St Nicholas Cathedral, built in 1838, which is especially mesmerizing on sunny days.

District Town Museum

A little further along Karl Marx Street you'll find the District Town Museum, where you will be transported back to 19th century Chistopol. You will be greeted by a guide in typical European clothing of that time who will lead you through all the rooms of the museum. Inside this 1,133 square metre museum, its 1,300-exhibit items include fossils (mammoth and bison bones), ancient porcelain items, art collections and even a samovar exhibition. In one of the corridors, there are wooden contraptions that seem incomprehensible at first, but take a closer look - they are actually antique 20th century bicycles. The recreated interiors of the living room, dining room and office immerses visitors into the world of a noble mansion, while the small room next door is dedicated to the life and work of Russian chemist Alexander Butlerov. 

If you have the time, be sure to take part in the unique interactive tour - “A Merchant’s Sunday in Chistopol”, where you have the opportunity to live the whole day as a nobleman. During the 5 hours you will visit the St Nicholas Cathedral, which merchants visited on Sundays and holidays, stroll through the historical centre of the city filled with merchant mansions, try dishes prepared based on 19th century recipes and even visit a merchant to get closer acquainted with his life and listen to some live music. The tour can be run any day of the week when you book in advance (the group must be at least 20 people), and you must provide your own transport. The tour fee is 550 roubles for adults and 400 roubles for children. Enquire at least a week in advance by calling +7 (84342) 5-17-01, 5-11-00 or via email: gorodnakame2012@mail.ru.

Skaryatinsky Garden and Boris Pasternak Memorial Museum

When leaving the District Town Museum, if you walk right through Victory Square you will find yourself in Skaryatinsky Garden, similar to Gorky Park in Kazan. This is a great place to relax as the merry-go-round and trampolines will keep the children entertained, while adults can recall the works of Boris Pasternak while strolling around the 3 metre monument dedicated to the writer.

Across the road from Skaryatinsky Garden among the high poplar trees there is a small wooden house, where from 1941 to 1943 the Russian poet, writer and translator Boris Pasternak rented a room. Pasternak was eager to fight in the war, but due to health reasons he was forced to emigrate with his family - his wife Zinaida and two children.

Here is a snippet of how Pasternak described his life in Chistopol:

“... I woke up at six in the morning because the standpipe in our district, from where I fill up water, has pipes that often deteriorate, and, moreover, water is only available twice a day at certain hours. So it is necessary to never waste an opportunity. Half asleep, I heard the clanging of buckets that filled the street. Here, each mistress has a yoke, the city is full of them.

One of my windows faces the road, behind which there is a large garden, called the "Park of Culture and Relaxation" (Skaryatinsky Garden, where the largest monument to the poet (one and a half times human height) was erected in the fall of 2015, is opposite this window of the room which he occupied during the war. Now the Pasternak Museum operates in the house; one of three in Russia. - N.I.), and the other window faces a courtyard overgrown with daisies, where they often march emaciated prisoners who were evacuated to the local prison from other cities where they make a loud racket when one of the locals is being tried.

... I translated and completed “Romeo and Juliet” here in exactly the same sense and spirit as I had always dreamed and hoped ... ”



Boris Pasternak translated the famous “Romeo and Juliet” play into Russian in Chistopol, hence why the city founded the Boris Pasternak Memorial Museum, which opened in 1990. It contains several exhibit halls that show detailed accounts of Pasternak's work including his work in Chistopol specifically, and even the era during which the writer worked. You will see documents, photographs, unique exhibits (for example, one of the last remaining vinyl records of a 50-minute ovation to Stalin), Pasternak’s personal letters, live model sketches, first editions of his books and much more. The main and most popular room of the museum is the writer's room, recreated based on the recollections of his neighbour and furnished with personal belongings of Boris Pasternak. His writing desk stands near the window table with drafts of a new novel (back then it was still in the form of a play) - “Doctor Zhivago”. A couch stands against the wall, and on the opposite side of the room hangs Boris Pasternak's coat and felt winter boots. You will be able to recognize these coat and boots in the photo of the writer that your tour guide will show you, neatly hidden away in a desk drawer.

Chistopol Prison

The pre-trial detention centre in Chistopol will appeal to those with a dark side as well as those who love history and spirit of days gone by. It was built in the middle of the 19th century and was originally used to solve the problem of overcrowded prisons in Kazan and Samara. During WWII, the prisoner count was around 1,500 – 2,000, many of whom were Volga Germans and deserters. Due to unsanitary and harsh conditions, over 1,000 people died here between 1941 and 1943. In the late 1970s, prisoners from the Vladimir Central Prison (maximum security prison for especially dangerous criminals in Russia) convicted of state crimes, were brought and kept here until 1991. Since 2005, after undergoing a makeover the prison now operates as a regional pre-trial detention centre.

Brewery Tour

Complete your trip to Chistopol by taking a tour of the Bely Kreml brewery, about a kilometre out from the city. The Innopolis-style glass cube building is divided into two parts inside - the store and a museum. Once you come through the entrance, your tour guide will give you a bracelet (silver or black, depending on the type of ticket you purchase), which will tell you everything about brewing in Tatarstan, how the republic's production is related to the German Kaltenberg factory, and will also lead you to the booth with ingredients used in the brewing process. Here you will be able to see, touch and smell malt, hops and barley. Also be sure to check out the decorative barrels with names of all the varieties that Bely Kreml produce near the ingredients booth. Visitors are then dressed in disposable overshoes, hairnets and coats, and are invited to take a tour of the production line. Here you can see the room where malt turns into wort, the draughting area, the lab which quality controls the ingredients and finished product, as well as the brewhouse where you can watch beer brewing with your own eyes. At the end, you'll be offered a tasting where you can try over 10 varieties of the foamy drink in miniature beer glasses. The tour admission fee is 100 roubles, or 250 roubles with the tasting. Tours are conducted every day from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and must be booked in advance by phone +7 (927) 244-36-66.

Where to eat

“Priyatel” Café and Bar

The spacious 120-seat cafe serves their own trademark take on Russian, European and Tatar cuisines. Here you can order multiple course meals in advance, or simply come in for the daily ‘business lunch’ specials. The café also has a free car park, bar, Wi-Fi and a fireworks area.

Location: 127 Engels St

Al Faretto Restaurant and Bar

The 120-seat venue serves up cold appetizers, various salads from Caesar to the more fancy Straccetti with beef, pasta, pizza, risotto, soups, hot local dishes and much more. To cater to every taste, the restaurant also serves a separate menu of panasian cuisine with foods like sushi, as well as a selection of other hot Japanese dishes. The restaurant also has a separate children’s menu and an extensive drinks menu.

Location: 118 Bebelya St

Where to buy souvenirs

Souvenir shop inside merchant Melnikov’s residence

This souvenir shop is located in a two-story mansion that once belonged to merchant M. L. Melnikov. In the 19th century, the side wing was used as a patisserie which produced the best sweet goods in the entire city, while the ground floor of the building housed a confectionery and grocery store.
Pay this store a visit to get your local souvenirs fix: ceramic mugs with a portrait of Pasternak, re-usable canvas bags, various handmade soaps, watches from the local Vostok factory and many other typical souvenirs - key chains, magnets, ceramic figures. Here you can also buy a map of Chistopol for 50 roubles, or book a walking tour of the museums: the sightseeing tour of Chistopol costs 1,800 roubles per person (up to 10 people per group).

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