Kazan is a multi-ethnic and multicultural city, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. The city has absorbed the influence of the Golden Horde khans, the Bulgar emirs and the Russian tsars, while holding on to Russian and Tatar traditions. The modern city is proud of its cultural and sporting diversity. The world volleyball community knows Kazan for the Zenit Kazan club, which boasts a twenty-year history and holds a large number of prestigious titles in elite volleyball.
Kazan is located on the left bank of the Volga river, at its confluence with the Kazanka River. The city is about 820 km from Moscow, with flights taking about one-and-a-half hours and trains a little over 12 hours to cover the distance.
A little over a thousand years ago, a fortress was built on the site of modern Kazan. It was a part of the historical state of Volga Bulgaria and protected its northern territories. Trade routes from Kievan Rus, Byzantium and the Middle East converged here, so the city grew rapidly. The fortress was called "Kazan" – the Russian translation of pot. City history is connected with many legends: according to one of them, the son of a local ruler dropped his pot into the river; another says that the water here boiled in a pot without fire. The legendary mythical dragon Zilant has become the symbol of the city. The Khan's treasures, thrown away during the conquest of Kazan, are hidden in the city lake of Kaban.
Following the Tatar-Mongol invasion, and during the long restoration of Kazan, a Kremlin was built on one of the hills, which to this day is one of the most important historical world heritage monuments. Developing crafts and trade at the same time, Kazan flourished economically. In 1522, Kazan was captured by the army of Ivan the Terrible, after which it became part of the Tsardom of Muscovy, and from that moment its history was intertwined with the history of Russia.
Modern symbols of the city are the Kazan Kremlin, the Syuyumbike Tower with its graceful silhouette, the striking Kul Sharif Mosque and the Annunciation Cathedral with its unique ancient frescoes. Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda, Bauman pedestrian street, the central embankment, the centre of the Kazan family with an unusual architectural solution and the Millennium Bridge are landmarks that no visitor should miss, and which not only tourists but also residents themselves like to visit. Kazan also enjoys a great cultural tradition. Leading theatre troupes and world music stars include Kazan in their tours, and exhibits from the Hermitage, the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum are exhibited in the city museums. The city hosts the Shalyapin Opera Festival, the Nuriyev Classical Ballet Festival, the Muslim Cinema Festival, and the Nauruz Theatre Festival of Turkic peoples.
Close to the city is the island town of Sviyazhsk - a fortress built by Ivan the Terrible, as well as Bulgar - the territory of an ancient settlement of the Golden Horde times, which was destroyed during the Tatar-Mongol invasion and restored by archaeologists.
Kazan was recognized as the sports capital of Russia thanks to the top-level sporting events held in the city. Kazan has hosted the World Bandy Championships, the World Summer Student Games, the World Fencing Championships and the World Aquatics Championships, plus football World Cup matches.
The Republic has provided all the necessary conditions for the development of volleyball, both at professional and amateur levels. One of the top specialised volleyball centres in the country is the arena hosting Kazan's professional teams, and artifacts of world and national volleyball are collected in a unique museum at the centre. Kazan has sports training programmes like the Olympic Reserve School and the Volga State Academy of Physical Culture for Sports and Tourism. The school volleyball league allows students from more than 600 schools to participate in regular volleyball classes, with parents supporting their children from the stands.
As for professional volleyball, Kazan is represented by the men's club of Zenit Kazan and the women's club of Dynamo-Ak Bars. Zenit Kazan celebrated their 20th anniversary in May 2020. During this period, the men's team has rapidly risen from first league rookies to holding all the most prestigious titles in the world of club volleyball: 10-time Champions of Russia, six-time winners of the European Champions League, winners of the Club World Championship, nine-time winners of the Russian Cup, eight-time winners of the Russian Super Cup.
One of the brightest pages in the history of the club was the Champions League Finals held in Kazan on May 12-13, 2018. The 7,000-capacity arena of the Multifunctional Centre was sold out, because there was something great to see: in the semifinals Zenit beat Italy's Sir Safety Conad Perugia 3-0, and in the dramatic final they edged Cucine Lube Civitanova after coming back from 7-11 in the tie-break. Kazan once again showed unbending character and set a Champions League record, winning the tournament four times in a row. Opposite Maxim Mikhaylov was named MVP of the tournament, with Zenit stars Alexander Butko and Wilfredo Leon included in the Dream Team.
The women's volleyball club of Dynamo-Ak Bars play in the Russian Superleague and are six-time champions of Russia, winners of the European Champions League, winners of the FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship, winners of the CEV Cup, five-time winners of the Russian Cup and winners of the Russian Super Cup.