The Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex is testimony to a medieval civilization and an important pilgrimage destination for Tatar Muslims.
It was the settlement of the Volga Bolgars, which existed between the 7th and the 15th centuries.
Central feature of the site is the (reconstructed) historical mosque. There also are a number of mausoleums.
Wojciech Fedoruk - August 2016
It is strange that according to this site Bolgar is one of the least visited WHS in Europe, as the place is very popular during summertime. Probably the reason is that most users are from Western Europe and few of them explore Russia, especially places distant from Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
Bolgar is the most significant remnant of Volga-Bulgarian Kingdom, ruling this part of Europe from X to XIII century. Bolgar was the capital of that kingdom and the place where they took Islam as their religion. It seems that current policy of Tatarstan is to praise local and Islamic elements, so the site was recently largely renovated, however excavation works are not finished yet.
There are many well-preserved buildings in Bolgar, such as several mosques and mausoleums and remainings of Khan’s Palace. The site is quite large and to visit all inscribed sites it is necessary to have at least 2-3 hours. You may cut this time significantly by renting a bike (100 rubles per hour) which I did. The whole site is very nice and the view on Volga river banks is really stunning.
Bolgar is located about 180km from Kazan, but getting there during summertime is not an easy task. I tried the speedboat (once per day) but the tickets were sold out for the next five days. Bus tickets from the central station (near the river boat station) were sold up to three days. Fortunately, there was one remaining ticket for that day from south bus station (Yuzhnyi Avtovokzal) located in the southern suburbs of Kazan. I strongly suggest booking the tickets in advance, at least during summer. Rented car is also an option (be not afraid of Tatarstani roads, they are good, but beware of police frequently controlling speed) and even without GPS getting there should be easy - road signs to Bolgar are numerous. There is also possibility to get there from Ulyanovsk, located about 130 km south of Bolgar.
Thomas Buechler - August 2014
170km south of Kazar lie the ruins of the ancient Tatar city of Bolgar.Its a sacred place for the Tatar community, but also a place of pilgrimage for different religions.This is the exact location where way back in 922 the Bulgars have embraced Islam, its the place where lies the foundation of Tatar statehood.The remains of a 13th century mosque, the Grand Minaret,
a few different Mausoleums, a courtroom building that became a smokehouse (Black chamber), the White Chambers with its bath installations.There is also a good museum at the new Shipyard.
Exhibits are mostly from the excavations in Bolgar itself.
Work is still going on.
From Kazan riverside pier there is a 8am fast ferry, near the bus station,
every day.However, they could not provide me with a return ticket.At the end, I was unable to return to Kazan with the speedboat, but had to arrange a shared taxi.
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Full name: The Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex
2014 - InscribedReasons for inscription
2013 - ReferredAfter a very long discussion
2013 - Advisory Body overruledICOMOS recommended rejection
2012 - Incomplete - not examined
2011 - Incomplete - not examined
2001 - Deferred
2000 - DeferredTo provide more detailed information about the reconstruction of the Great Minaret, confirmation that the industrial project has been definitively abandoned, and a more detailed comparative analysis
The site has 14 connections. Show all
- Baths bath houses
- Mausolea several mausoleums
- Notable minarets The minaret of this former mosque collapsed in 1841 but was reconstructed in the year 2000 on the basis of historical drawings made on site in 1827. The new minaret was reerected on its original foundations and integrates historic stones, which belonged to the original minaret. (AB ev)
- Volga Basin lies on the shores of the Volga River
- Golden Horde became a centre of a separate province (or duchy) within the Golden Horde. During the period of Mongol domination Bolgar acquired immense wealth, many imposing buildings, and grew tenfold in size (wiki)
Religion and Belief
- Islamic pilgrimage sites Muslim pilgrimage centre (AB ev)
- Mosque The central feature is the historic mosque of tetragonal shape, preserved as an architectural ruin and one of the rare surviving architectural manifestations of the early Golden Horde period (late 13th century). The minaret of this former mosque collapsed in 1841 but was reconstructed in the year 2000 on the basis of historical drawings made on site in 1827. (AB ev)
- Multiple Religions Islam and Russian Orthodox
- Built in the 10th century The historical and archaeological complex of Bolgar is a symbolic reminder of the acceptance of Islam by the Volga-Bolgars in 922 AD (Nom File).
World Heritage Process
- Inscribed at third attempt or more Def 2000, Def 2001, Ref 2013, Ins 2014
- Reconstruction regarded as unsatisfactory by UNESCO/ICOMOS authenticity of the reconstruction of the Great Minaret (2001) & past conservation activities at the property which included reconstructions and partial rebuilding works (Nom File).
- Ten years or more to inscribe 2000-2014