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World Heritage Site

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Photo provided by Wojciech Fedoruk

The Assumption Cathedral of the town-island of Sviyazhsk is a Russian-orthodox cathedral renowned for its complete 16th-century cycle of murals bearing symbolic meaning.

The Cathedral dates from the period of Ivan the Terrible, when missionary posts for spreading Christianity in this originally Islamic Tatar region were established. It is part of a homonymous Monastery.

Map of Sviyazhsk


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

Wojciech Fedoruk Poland 01.09.16

Sviyazhsk by Wojciech Fedoruk

About 60 km from Kazan, on the opposite side of Volga river, lays small but beautiful town of Sviyazhsk. The town was built by tsar Ivan the Terrible in order to have a good starting point to invade Kazan Khanate. He built there numerous tserkvas, nunnery and of course a stronghold. In that time Sviyazhsk was one of the most important towns in the Moscow Tsardom.

But the successful ride on Kazan in 1552 was the end of Sviyazhsk’s golden years. Kazan, although thoroughly destroyed, soon became the real capital of that region. Sviyazhsk only sustained his status of a regional centre of Orthodox faith.

Really dark years came to Sviyazhsk with the October Revolution. First Leon Trotsky came to the town and among the numerous tserkvas ordered to built the statue of the first revolutionist - Judas Iscariot (what a sense of humour the bolsheviks had!). But then Stalin was not joking by expelling monks, destroying many tserkvas and building a GULAG, which functioned in Sviyazhsk for about 20 years. In WWII out of 400 people from Sviyazhsk (populated 1300 in total) only 2 came back. After Stalin's death the camp was changed into a closed hospital for mentally disabled. In the meantime, after creating Kuibyshev water reservoir, Sviyazhsk became an island.

Better times came around 2000, when the federal and regional authorities started to rebuild and reopen Sviyazhsk for visitors. Monks came back, some tserkvas were rebuilt and in 2008 eventually a causeway was constructed, making this site a peninsula again, much easier to visit by tourists.

Sviyazhsk is a very nice and interesting place, a must-see for tourists visiting Tatarstan. Even the overall view of the town with its walls and towers over the Volga river makes the trip worthwhile.

Although the reconstruction works are not finished, many buildings are open for visitors. The most interesting is Assumption Monastery from XVIth century (its main church, Assumption Cathedral has original XVIth-century frescoes and finally was the only property inscribed on the list). Another one is St. John the Baptist Monastery with old wooden church from the middle of XVIth century. The church has one of the few paintings of young tsar Ivan the Terrible.

There are numerous ways of transport from Kazan to Sviyazhsk. The most popular is by a speed boat, but the tickets during summer season have to be booked about 3-4 days in advance. There are also numerous trains (the journey takes 1- 1.5h only) but the station is about 10 km from the town and I am not sure of the transport there. There are also organized tours, lasting for about 6 hours. I choose this option (I was lucky, as I took last place in 52-people bus). I was very happy with the tour, it gave me lots of information that I could not get being an individual visitor. There are also tours in English, but I suggest contacting local agents in advance.

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Site Info

Full name: The Assumption Cathedral of the town-island of Sviyazhsk

Unesco ID: 1525

Inscribed: 2017

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   4  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2017 - Name change From TWHS The ensemble of former city building of Sviyazhsk to WHS The Assumption Cathedral of the town-island of Sviyazhsk
  • 2017 - Inscribed 
  • 2013 - Requested by State Party to not be examined  


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