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Laishevsky rayon


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Administrative center: Laishevo
Area: 2094.43 sq.km
Population: 36,700

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Laishev (Layesh) was founded by the Volga Bolgars in the late 10th century. According to the local legend, the village was started by "an old man named Laish and his people," who moved here from the Volga Bolgaria after it had been devastated by Timur (Tamerlane). Today it is a favorite venue for holidays and popular festivals which people of Kazan like to attend.

Laishevsky rayon is located in the south-eastern part of the Republic of Tatarstan, and is actually a suburb of the capital. The south-western boundary of the rayon runs along the picturesque waterways of the region: the rivers Volga, Kama and the Kuibyshev Reservoir. The rayon is home for the Volga-Kama State Natural Reserve.

Laishev (Layesh) was founded by the Volga Bolgars in the late 10th century. According to the local legend, the village was started by "an old man named Laish and his people," who moved here from the Volga Bolgaria after it had been devastated by Timur (Tamerlane).

The place where Laishevo now stands was of great strategic importance in the past. It is here that the road to the Nogai Horde and thence to Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Transcaucasia crossed the Kama. In the 10th and 11th centuries CE the Tatar settlement of Chakma stood on this spot.

Laishev was a major rural metallurgical and manufacturing center in the Lower Kama region. Ironworks were its specialty, from the extraction and procession of the iron ore to iron smelting and manufacturing various products of it. The Laishev of old was well known for its "iron" fair, which opened with the start of the river navigation. Laishev lands were also famous for the local master coopers and potters, its basket makers, embroiderers, weavers, jewelers and lace makers.

The history of Laishev as a Russian fortress began in spring 1557, when the voivoda of Kazan Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Shuisky ordered to build an ostrog (small fortification) to protect the Kama crossing. Laishev at this moment marked the border between the recently annexed lands of the Kazan Khanate and the Nogai Horde.

In 1609, the town of Laishev was mentioned among other cities subject to the jurisdiction of the Kazan Palace Prikaz (the regional administrative office in the Middle Volga). In the 1650s, after the construction of the first Trans-Kama Abatis Line, the town lost its military significance. Servitors moved elsewhere, and the decline of Laishev began.

Its revival started in 1780 when the town became an uezd center, the fourth largest in Kazan gubernia. On October 18, 1781 the city was granted its first coat of arms.

Ironworks continued to play an important role in the economic life of the 19th century Laishev. The Laishev docks annually received hundreds of thousands of pouds of ironware from the Ural factories. All of this was sold in bulk and often melted right on boards of ships docked in Laishev.

Under the Soviet regime, Laishev was demoted to a rural status (hence the new name of Laishevo), and then back to that of a township in 1950. In 2004, as an act of historical justice, Laishevo got back its historic town status (but not the old name).

Today the rayon is the gateway to Tatarstan for those travelling by air, as Kazan International Airport is located here. The major expansion and large-scale reconstruction of the airport has opened new prospects to the rayon’s economy. A new high-speed railway line has already connected the airport and the city via several villages of the rayon.

The rayon’s main specialization is the grain and dairy production, as well as vegetable farming and poultry breeding. In 1974 the Laishevo Bakery was founded, which since then has developed its own network of retailers.

The local fishery supplies its products — frozen, salted and marinated fish, as well as balyk (cold smoked fish). Apart from freshwater fish, the factory produces over 100 tons of oceanic herring, mackerel, salmon and capelin a year.

The production of the local fur farm is well known outside of Tatarstan. The farm’s specialty is sable breeding and overcoat tailoring. The all-time mink fur favorites among the customers are the Holond white, the Pastel standard and dark brown, the Sapphire silvery-blue, the Swallowtail and the new short-haired Skene Black.

… Surrounded by blue spruces, the Laishevo Agricultural College rises on the banks of the Kama. Its beautiful apple orchard and flower gardens are not just pleasing to the eye — everything here has been grown by instructors and students, as a display of talent of the future masters of this ancient land.

The beauty of the rayon has always attracted people of Kazan. The golden sand of the Volga beaches, the sunlight, the magnificent pine trees and gentle river waves... Almost a third of the city residents come to enjoy the nature of Laishevo. The Volga Youth Holiday Camp is located here, 27 km south of Kazan. Up to 4500 people come here annually. Providing the full range of services, the camp operates around the year, so its doors are always opened to old and new guests.

The town of Laishevo has its own children's Art School, with a Russian folk orchestra, violin, piano and accordion band and a choir. The Laishevo Museum features over 9,000 exhibits, mostly donated by the rayon’s residents. Its archaeological collection boasts unique women's jewelry.

One of the oldest settlements in the rayon is the village of Stolbishche, known for its Motherland Club for Sports and Patriotic Education. Members of the club join the "snow descent" groups searching for the unburied remains of World War II soldiers, most often in the infamous Dolina Smerti (Valley of Death) in the Novgorod oblast. The local school now bears the name of the local native, Hero of the Soviet Union Alexey Malyshev.

Laishevsky rayon is famous for its spectacular samples of provincial architecture and beautiful nature. 24 churches and cathedrals, as well as 18 mosques are now open in the rayon. 12 springs provide fresh water to its residents. One of them, the Devyataya Pyatnitsa ("Ninth Friday"), located in the village of Bima, is considered holy and medicinal.

The bard of Theos, have you seen
How the Russian girls do the bull dance
In the spring meadows
To the tune of the shepherd’s pipe?
Have you seen them bow their heads,
Clatter their heels in unison,
Quietly move their arms and snap their eyes
And shrug their shoulders?

Thus wrote Gavriil Romanovich Derzhavin, a great Russian poet and statesman, born on July 3, 1743 in the village of Sokury in the Kazan uezd, in his poem “Russkiye devushki” (Russian girls). According to the family legend, the Derzhavins descended from a Tatar Mirza (aristocrat). The poet’s parents, Roman Nikolayevich and Fyokla Andreyevna, were buried by the local church. Every year, poets come to Laishevsky rayon to take part in the famous Derzhavin Readings.

Derzhavin’s homeland breathes creativity and poetry of antiquity. This is probably why this land has preserved the old tradition of folk song festivals.

The village of Nikolskoye has recently revived the tradition of the Karavon folk festival. Its history goes back to mid-16th century, when the village celebrated the day of its patron, St. Nicholas, with a big feast. Villagers gathered to worship the saint, made fun, sang songs, and young bachelors looked for potential brides.

Today the Karavon at Nikolskoye is visited by hundreds of folk bands and thousands of spectators from both Tatarstan and neighboring regions.