Administrative center: Alekseyevskoye
Area: 2074.4 sq. km
Alekseyevsky Rayon is one of the richest in archaeological monuments in Tatarstan. The medieval city of Bilar is a truly unique place: once the capital of Volga Bolgaria (10th â early 13th century), it is now a historical monument of federal significance.
Before it was pillaged by the Mongols, Bilar occupied a territory as large as 6,202 sq.km and had a population of 100.000 inhabitants. Bilar was a large political and economic center where trade routes from Rus and the Baltic, Western Europe and Scandinavia, Middle Asia and Persia, India and China, Byzantium and the Caucasus all met. In 1236 Bilar was pillaged and burned down during the Mongol invasion of Volga Bolgaria. Today the reconstructed site of Bilar, together with Bolgar, Kazan and Zhuketau, forms the âSilver ringâ of Tatarstanâs historical and architectural reserve. It is also a part of the international tourist route.
The modern village of Bilyarsk was founded on its current spot in 1654. In 1950 â 1953 Bilyarsk became the administrative center of a rayon. In the times of Russian Empire the village was the biggest locality in the Chistopolsky uezd. The 20th century saw a decrease in its population, so by 1990 there had been less than one third of the total population as of the 1908 census. Now slightly more than 2.000 people live in Bilyarsk. Alekseyevsky Rayon is situated among low scenic hills at the very heart of the Republic of Tatarstan. One of the main water arteries of the Republic, the river Kama, flanks the rayon. The total area of the rayon is 2074.41 sq.km. Alekseyevsky Rayon was created on 4 March, 1964. Today it borders on Aksubayevsky, Alâkeyevsky, Laishevsky, Nurlatsky, Rybnoslobodsky, Spassky and Chistopolsky rayons of the Republic of Tatarstan.
The administrative centre of the rayon is the urban community of Alekseyevskoye. It is situated on the banks of Kuybyshev Reservoir, 108 km to the south-east of Kazan.
The Svyatoy Kluch (Holy Spring) is considered to be the pearl of Alekseyevsky Rayon. It is located at the foot of a scenic hill Hujalar Tauly. Suprisingly, this place is honored by both Christians and Moslems. Long ago, there was a pagan shrine at the top of the hill, where ancient Bolgars made sacrifices to their chief god Tengri. Later the spring, with its crystal clear and healing water, became a holy place for Moslems. Nowadays the spring is enclosed with a brick fence, and the space around it has been tidied up.
The wall reminds some old fortification, with convenient stairways to the hill summit. Rites of different religions are performed here, people send prayers to various gods and leave offerings. Chuvash and Mari people, who adhere to traditional beliefs, come to this holy place as well.
Orthodox Christians consecrated the spring in the name of The Theotokos âLife-giving springâ. They believe that this water is âtears of Holy Mother that she is shedding over the sins of the human raceâ. As the legend has it, âOnce upon a time a revered icon disappeared from local church. Later a Tatar girl saw an icon of âRussian Godâ floating on the lake surface. She wanted to take the icon, and the holy image floated right into her hands. The icon was returned to its place, but that night it disappeared again. And again that girl saw it at the middle of the lake, but the icon did not come this time. Suddenly, a voice said, âIf you want to get me, become a Christian. And in this case, I will come into your hands and rest in the church once and for allâ. That girl became a Christian, and local inhabitants started to honor her as a saint. A source suddenly sprang on the hill slope, exactly where she was buried.â
Local Moslems tell the story of the spring differently. They believe that one day an ancient city was situated here, ruled by a certain Tyrymshal-hojja, who had 12 clever and beautiful daughters. Once the enemies attacked the city, and many of its defenders died in the ensuing cruel battle.
Those who survived were captured, together with those girls and their father. The victorious invaders ordered them to build a barrow, at the top of which the survivors were to be dug alive. A whole mountain was thus raised. But a miracle happened: the beauties turned into clear stars and ascended into the skies, and their father Tyrymshal-hojja threw himself down from the top and turned into the spring. In the memory of this event, people started calling this hill âMount of Maidensâ and considered Tyryshmal-hojja a holy man.
A great many of renowned people were born in these lands, such as famous chemists Alexander M. Butlerov, Alexander E. and Boris A. Arbuzovs, writer Salikh Battal, opera singer M.P. Pantyushin and other outstanding people.
It is interesting to note that Alexander Butlerov and his friends during their years at a Kazan boarding school tried to make explosive mixtures, gunpowder, and sparklers. One day an experiment caused a serious explosion in a study room. Butlerovâs mentor seriously punished him: he was put into a corner during lunchtime, and had to carry a slate board hung on his neck which read âGreat chemistâ. The teacher did not suspect that in mocking Alexander he was prophesying his future in earnest. Indeed, Butlerov became a great chemist, and whatâs more, he started the first Russian school of chemical thought.
Citizens of Alekseyevskoye also take pride in other countrymen â Heroes of Socialist Labor A.N. Bespalov, N.A. Sobolev, Heroes of the Soviet Union N.V. Mamonov, V.D. Kochnev, Kh.N. Khairullin, M.A. Fedin, Holder of the Glory Order M.S. Shlyapnikov. The names of Generals M.I. Pavelkin, M.D. Sidorov, A.M. Petrov, L.D. Reino, F.I. Galkin, Z.Yu. Kutlin will live on in history. Everyone remembers Major A.I. Plotnikov, a pilot who repeated Nikolai Gastelloâs feat - an airplane ram attack.
Today in Alekseyevsky Rayon you can find people of many nationalities - Russians, Tatars, Chuvash, Mari and others â all of whom live together in peace. Agriculture and industry are flourishing. Spring and winter wheat, winter rye, barley, oat, peas and fodder cultures are cultivated. The leading cattle-breeding branches include meat and dairy cattle and pig-breeding. Art weaving factory in Alekseyevskoye is the only hand-made weaving enterprise in Tatarstan. It was set up in 1927 on the basis of existing handcraft industries.
NB One of the hallmarks of Alekseyevsky Municipal Rayon is the V.I. Abramov Local Studies Museum. Three folk collectives are notable in the rayon: the local theatre, The Russian Song vocal band and Shusem Chuvash Song and Dance ensemble.