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Vysokogorsky rayon 


Administrative center: Vysokaya Gora
Area: 1573.4 sq.km
Population: 44,000


Vysokogorsky rayon of Tatarstan was founded in 1935. One of the largest by area, in the south it borders on the city of Kazan, and in the north approaches the Mari taiga. Its massive forests have brought the rayon a nickname of “the lungs of Kazan”. Indeed, woodland covers 18% of its total territory.

Two Bolgar princes — brothers Altynbek and Galimbek — are considered the legendary founders of Old Kazan. They are supposed to have moved here after the fall of Bolgar.

As a dependence of the Golden Horde in the 13th — 14th centuries, Iske Kazan (Old Kazan) became the nucleus of the new principality and a major political, economic and cultural center of Trans-Kazanka and the whole of the Middle Volga.

The life of a medieval Trans-Kazankan community can be seen on the examples of Russko-Urmatskoye selishche (settlement), active in 13th — 16th centuries, located on the left bank of the Kazanka, and Kamayevo gorodishche, a Bolgar and Tatar craftsmen’ settlement of the same period, located on a high naturally fortified promontory. Up to the conquest of the Kazan Khanate in 1552, the latter fort was an important outpost on the northern borders of the state. These unique archaeological finds have helped scholars determine the foundation date for Old Kazan. Studies of the area began in 1928, but cannot be considered completed even now.

After the invasion of Tamerlane and the collapse of the Golden Horde, part of the local population relocated to safer places and fortresses, such as the rising New Kazan (located on the same spot as the modern city). After the birth of the Kazan Khanate Iske Kazan lost the leading position in the region, and the Trans-Kazanka lands joined the new state.

The village of Vysokaya Gora (High Hill) rose on the site of the settlement known as Baigysh, which dates back to the period of the Kazan Khanate. In later 16th century Vysokaya Gora was an estate owned by the Kazan Zilantov Assumption Monastery. In pre-revolutionary sources the village was known as Rozhdestvenskoye. The current name was born from the practice of prisoners and exiles, who had to take the Siberia Road on foot. Every 20-30 kilometers they were supposed to stop and have a short break, and one of those places was the high hill near the village of Rozhdestvenskoye. Thus a name more attentive to terrain details appeared: a high hill, Vysokaya Gora.

The interaction of various states, tribes, peoples, cultures and religions contributed to the formation of this unique cultural area, the remains of which are carefully preserved at the Iske Kazan historical, cultural and natural Museum-Reserve.

Especially valuable finds, currently located in the historical and ethnographic museum of Kamayevo, include 14th — 15th century Jochid coins, two bronze mirrors, found in the vicinity of Kamayevo, a 6th -5th century BCE Hun cauldron and two tombstones dated 1281/1282 and 1494 respectively.

Iske Kazan cemetery is revered by Moslems as a holy place. According to the popular legend, here lies Mullah Haji, a military commander under Prince Altynbek who participated in the founding of Old Kazan. The historical Mullah Haji obviously played a big role in these events, as his name is among the few which survived the test of time. A holy spring on the territory of Iske Kazan also bears his name. The legend has it that the brave and pious commander was the husband of Gaisha-bike, the "fireproof princess” and Altynbek's sister. Her grave, located near the village of Tatarskaya Aisha, is another place of pilgrimage for Moslems.

Many famous people visited this land. Peter the Great visited the villages north of Kazan at the invitation of his batman Alexei Danilovich Tatishchev. In 1722, the village of Kaimary honored the Emperor's fiftieth birthday with a church of St. Cyril of Beloye Ozero. In 1767 Kaimary saw yet another monarch — Empress Catherine the Great.

In the 19th century the Boratynsky family had their estate in Kaimary and lived there throughout the 1830s. The outstanding Russian poet and friend of Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Boratynsky twice visited the Kaimary estate where he enjoyed peaceful family life. Inspired by the local nature, he wrote his famous lines:

Where are the sweet whispers of my forests,
The murmur of streams, the flowers of my meadows?
The trees are naked; the carpet of the winter
Has covered the hills, meadows and valleys...

Almost two hundred years since, the land which once stirred the creativity of the great poet has preserved the same beauty of its nature that can inspire and reach the heart of every visitor.

The village of Chepchugi, founded in 1557, is known as the site of the battle between the rebel army led by Emelyan Pugachev and the cavalry unit under the command of Ivan Michelson in June 1774. The battle took place at the confluence of rivers Yashcherma and Kazanka.

Shapsha was a dream village of the USSR, the ideal of communist land relations. It was shown to all the foreign delegations touring the Middle Volga.

Among the generous gifts of Mother Nature to Vysokogorsky rayon are such rare gems as the Semiozersky forest, Shumansky and Estachinsky slopes and especially the karst lakes. The cascade of Blue Lakes is the most unique of them. The water is crystal clear and transparent, keeping the same temperature (4-6 degrees centigrade) around the year. It contains minerals which make it medicinal for human health. Those who stay at the nearby Krutushka resort can make the most of this unique phenomenon.

The rayon is rich in traditional crafts as well: the village Chebaksa is famous for its blacksmiths who once forged the decorated railings for one of the most beautiful mosques in Kazan — the Azimov, for the white-stone Kremlin and the urban houses of the 19th century. The distillery built in 1898 by merchant Mikhail Zhuravlev in the village of Usady is still functional. The industrialist, who loved dogs, kept a kennel in the neighboring village, which has received an appropriate name — Sobakino (now Kalinino). Trinity Church in Usady, built in 1793, and the garden in the Zhuravlev estate, together with specimens of 19th century industrial architecture form a great historical heritage.

This land occupied a special place in the lives of such outstanding people as the public and religious figure Galimjan Baroudi, playwright Hai Vahit, composers Sultan Gabashi and Salih Saidashev.

During his Kazan period, Maxim Gorky often visited Kletni and Sobakino together with his pals from the bakery where he was working at that time.

Many famous people visited these lands. Peter the Great came here on an invitation from his batman, Aleksei Danilovich Tatishchev.

The future writer's impressions of hardships of village life found their way into his memoirs.

Vysokogorsky Rayon of Tatarstan was established in 1935. One of the largest by area, in the south it borders on the city of Kazan, and in the north approaches the Mari taiga. Its massive forests have brought the rayon a nickname of “the lungs of Kazan”. Indeed, woodland covers 18% of its total territory. Agriculture is one of the main occupations of its residents. The rayon has more than 200 farms, which produce milk, meat, grain, potatoes, and vegetables, and raise fur animals. Local industrial enterprises produce bricks, innovative construction products and sheets of polycarbonate. The village of Yamashurma has been selected for the construction of a tourist center. An exotic ostrich farm has already started functioning here.

In 1992, the rayon opened a computer center and IT-themed summer camps for gifted children. Since 1996, the Vysokaya Gora racecourse has hosted the Prix President of Tatarstan (held annually in August, on Republic Day) and many national-level automobile races. The local historical and cultural heritage is aptly represented in the Vysokaya Gora museum.