I declared today That I love you, my nation.
Don't leave me, I pray, Without your friendly compassion...
Gabdulla Tukay, a great Tatar poet
THE TWIN CITIES — Naberezhnye Chelny and Yelabyga — are situated on both banks of the large and scenic Kama River. Both cities have a lot in common. Archaeological excavations and chronicles of these areas, take us to the 10th-12th centuries AD, the time of the Volga Bulgar kingdom. Both cities have car-manufacturing plants and belong to Kama Innovation Complex, the economic objective of which is creating of a competitive world-level industrial center in Tatarstan.
Founded in 1626.
Incorporated since 1930.
Metropolitan area: 171.03 km2
Population: 519, 025
The Tatar name of the city is Yar Chally. There is an opinion that explains the origin of this name: in Bulgar language the word chal meant "a stone", hence the old Turkic word chally, which meant "a stone fence place", or "a fortress".
Naberezhnye Chelny is my hometown. Unlike the nearby Yelabuga, which is rich in history as an authentic merchant town, Naberezhnye Chelny was nothing more than a foodgrain trading center in early 20th century. Thanks to the town's advantageous geographical location, the foodgrain barges were sent up the Kama and the Volga rivers to Central Russia and abroad from its river port. In 1917, the State Bank of Russia built the largest river granary in Russia, which is still operating nowadays, even though it is an antiquated historical and architectural monument. However, the city of Naberezhnye Chelny became famous only in recent history through the huge industrial growth in late 20th century. Today it is a bright modern city, which lies on the left bank of the Kama River, surrounded by emerald forests.
The small town of 30 000 inhabitants turned into buzzing beehive when in 1969 the project of heavy truck plant was announced. Fifteen years later, the population of the town grew to more than half a million people, who belonged to more than seventy different ethnic groups. Naberezhnye Chelny managed to escape the fate of becoming another typical industrial city, despite the fact that the builders were striving to finish the construction of the new city within a very limited time. Ildar Khanov, a talented sculptor and an outstanding artist, worked on making the city to look unique and magical. His elegant avant-garde sculptures can be found all over the city, they gave Naberezhnye Chelny a striking and cheerful look. The population considers them as a brand identity of the city. Ildar Khanov's specially designed his sculptures installed on the Enthusiasts' Boulevard to create a sense of cosmic energy. According to the artist, "the figures along the boulevard embody chakras. The boulevard itself is like a meditative man spread out on a surface." According to I. Khanov, these works help the spiritual transformation of the city.
Half a million young construction workers, engineers, machine setup men, casters, metallurgists, and people of many other specialties arrived in the so-called City of Enthusiasts 30-40 years ago. Many of those young people got married. As a result, nowadays, able-bodied youth makes the major segment of citizenry. They principally work at KAMAZ plant and its subsidiaries, which are the main sources of employment in the area. The KAMAZ plant (Kama Auto Works) is the largest truck manufacturing plant in Russia and in CIS. Besides heavy trucks, it also produces diesel engines and spare parts. The plant makes more than thirty models of trucks of three hundred modifications, seven models of buses, and trailers. Last year, the plant celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary. In February 2012, KAMAZ produced the two-millionth truck since its start-up date.
Celebrations of the jubilee and the 2,000,000th manufactured truck were honored with the presence of Vladimir Putin who visited the lineup exhibition and especially liked the model KamAZ-5490. The truck is equipped with eco-friendly engine, up-to-date electronic control and roomy double-sleeper cab, which will satisfy the most exacting long-distance driver. V. Putin signed an autograph right on the cab of the 2,000,000th truck. It will now be placed as exhibit in the in-company museum.
Whenever I go to South-East Asia, I see imported KAMAZ trucks riding on the dusty local roads, and I am happy as if I met an old friend.
The legendary KAMAZ-master rally team has lots of admires not only among KAMAZ workers, but also all over the world. Fans of auto races know well that the team is one of the strongest in the world in the class of sports trucks. Within twenty-one years, the team of KAMAZ became ten-time winner of the famous Dakar auto rally. Famous pilots Vladimir Chagin and Firdous Kabirov, who won many titles and awards, are deservedly the pride of citizens and true idols of local teenagers.
Another leading enterprise in Naberezhnye Chelny is the holding "Tulpar". This enterprise supplies the city with industrial goods and foodstuffs. The company owns large trade and exhibition facilities extended on 16,100 sq. m. with a vast underground parking. The three-storeyed building comprises shops, cafes, recreational areas, etc. The megamall "Tulpar", belonging as well to the holding, was recognized the best food store in the Russian Federation in the course of an all-Russia contest.
Because of extended method of urban development practiced in Naberezhnye Chelny, the city looks very spacious, "open-worked", airy and light. Usual bunches of electrical wires or heavy gloomy roofs do not hang over your head, you can see clear sky in its full expanse from everywhere, you can see the silver river with woods on the other side. Industrial facilities and shops of the giant auto plant are located outside city limits; this fact makes a very favorable impact on urban environment. In the spring, apple trees blossom along the city's main boulevards. In the early fall citizens celebrate a splendid flower festival that any visitor will remain forever impressed by. One of the main squares of the city is decorated with huge flower compositions, based on the plots taken from fairy tales, folk stories and present day events. Every flower composition is a true work of art, a masterpiece, which will be afterwards appreciated both by visitors and by jury. During the festivities, one can buy flowers, attend concerts, participate in various competitions, dance to the tunes of ethnic instruments and taste the local cuisine. The people of Naberezhnye Chelny are great at celebrating such events and they love doing it. Many festivals are held in the city, among them the International Festival of Turkic Peoples. Its inspirer and organizer is Liliya Nurmukhame-tova, the director of the Children's School of Choreography.
The most colorful ancient festival that peoples of the Volga region keep widely celebrating until today is Sabantuy or "Plow Feast", a festivity celebrated in June to mark the end of sowing season. If you would like to get to know vernacular traditions and to taste Tatar cuisine, welcome to Sabantuy! You will feel the cultural diversity when seeing multiple ethnic groups performing on festival stages: Tatars, Bashkirs, Russians, Chuvash, Udmurts, Mari, Mordvins, Ukrainians.
The vortex of gaiety, costumes, languages, music, singing, laughter, dances — that is what Sabantuy! Competitions are by right the main event of the festival. None of Sabantuys can do without traditional horse races. Well-groomed and muscular racehorses tear round the circle of maidan, most favorite competitions is national sash-wrestling called kurash. True Heracles take part in this competition to win the Grand Prize of Sabantuy.
Everybody who wants to try his strength, knack and luck can participate in such competitions as sack fights on a log, fishing, running with a beam, etc. Although only the most courageous participant can manage to climb up a tall smooth pillar, thus making the grateful public admire the hero.
There are a lot of new shopping malls, modern glass and concrete recreational centers, an ice arena, several Macdonald's restaurants, and a dolphinarium in the city. I am most happy that our city has a real organ. The Organ Hall opened in March 2005 offers regular concerts performed both by guest musicians, who love the Hall for its unique acoustic properties, and by the local chamber orchestra named "The Province" and led by Igor Lehrman, Honorary artist of the Republic of Ta-tarstan. Igor Lehrman is not just an orchestra conductor. He is a faithful and passionate votary of muses, devoted to music and to his audience.
Since Naberezhnye Chelny is situated on the bank of the Kama River, the inhabitants love to spend their leisure time outdoors. Lots of camps and recreational centers for children line up the other side of the river, adjacent to the woods. Here, one can spend time away from the city's hustle and bustle all year round. Many people come to these woods for mushroom "hunting" in the fall.
In those woods, so thick and gloomy There live demons - so they say: Ghostly forms like albasti And ub'r and even shuraleh! This is the most likely reason Why those woods are broad and wide. In this world devised by God Can any wonder be denied?
You can get quite fast from Naberezhnye Chelny to Yelabuga. Both cities are connected by the old Moscow to Kazan road. This road was a part of a major post road leading from Moscow to Siberia, which was built in the 18th century by order of Catherine the Great. Of course, today it is a modern comfortable highway. If you want to see a few parts of the old post road, you have to make a turn at the Maly Bor nature preserve.
The nature preserve is a nice place to make a stop and breathe fresh clean air of the coniferous forest. Who knows, maybe you will be lucky to get inspiration, similar to that of Ivan Shishkin, the renowned painter who was born here? He painted his famous landscape paintings in this local pine forest. Just as Shishkin did, you can also immerse yourself in the spring of St. Panteleimon the Healer. One can truly be healed in such a beautiful and quiet place, if not from diseases, but at least from toing and froing of a big city. In this place, you can literally charge yourself with positive energy and attain inner peace. Who was that good soul, who built the small pool, the chapel, and little wooden bridges and troughs conveying cold healing stream?
Founded in the early 11th century. Incorporated since 1780. Metropolitan area: 18 km2 Population: 71 181
The Tatar name of the city is Alabuga. This name is Turkic in origin. Historians think it refers to an underwater stone, which was known by the name "The Big Bull". The stone caused massive rapids. Another meaning of the word alabuga is "fierce" or "gigantic"
Yelabuga is a town-reserve. The sanctuary zone of the Yelabuga State culture preserve consists of a merchant district of the late 18th — early 19th century, which has no equal in the state of preservation. The area of the State historical, architectural and fine art open-air museum makes of 491, 5 hectares where 184 historical and cultural monuments are situated. The major merit in the reserve's successful maintenance belongs to its Director General Gulzada Rudenko.
A thousand-year-old stone tower, situated in the centre of the archeological site called "The Devil's Cliff", rises above the picturesque riverbank. A gorgeous panorama of the confluence of the Kama and the Toyma rivers opens up from the cliff. The stone foundations and the sole remaining tower are the only traces of the ancient Bul-gar city of the 9-10th centuries AD. The medieval fortress was of particular importance for the trade route, which passed through here. Today this tower, cloaked in mystery and legends, is the symbol of Yelabuga. The ancient city dating from the time of the Volga Bulgar kingdom is considered direct ancestor of present-day Yelabuga. The town celebrated its millennial anniversary in 2007.
It should be noted that the unique character of Yelabuga does not solely consist in its architecture or in the atmosphere of antiquity given by remaining historical monuments, but is also felt in high spirituality of Yelabuga merchants of the 19th-early 20th century that had been evinced in charity and sponsorship. The newspapers of the time wrote, "This town is famous for its charity deeds throughout all of our Fatherland. It is difficult to point out another district town, where charity work would be as wide as in Yelabuga." The strategic location of Yelabuga, situated on the road going from Moscow to Siberia and near navigable rivers, allowed the town to become a trade mediator between different regions of the country. In the beginning of the 20th century, Yelabuga had a population of ten thousand people with more than six hundred wealthy merchants among them, including twelve millionaires. Here is an excerpt from the first census conducted in the Russian Empire: "As of January 1, 1900, ten municipalities of Vyatka governorate had 1,905,930 rubles of charitable donations, 1,403,839 rubles of which sum were donated by the citizens of Yelabuga." Thanks to the merchants who cared for public welfare, Yelabuga was one of the first ten cities of the Russian Empire to install public electric lighting and water supply pipe system. Ancient businessmen of Yelabuga did not care of capital withdrawal; they were striving to invest in their native region and to contribute thus to its prosperity and to the fame of their hometown. How great it would be, if modern business schools taught a compulsory course "Spirituality and sponsorship in business".
The merchant dynasty of the Girbasovs perpetuated their name by the construction of a trade school, a municipal college, a school for the blind people and a parish school for the city's need.
Another merchant family, the Ushkovs, constructors of the largest chemical plants in Russia, built and donated to the town the building of Merchants' Assembly, a trade school for women, which was the biggest school in town. In the beginning of the 20th century, the school had 380 students and 15 teachers. Within the period from 1870 to 1900, they also constructed five buildings of the municipal hospital and donated them to the town.
The Stakheyevs, another merchant clan, were known as owners of railways, of gold mines and oil fields, factories and plants, mills and shops all over the Russian Empire. They also sold wheat to England, Germany, France, Belgium. Even Emperor Nicholas II in person possessed shares of Stakheyev Trading Firm. Stakheyev Brothers Charitable Committee financed construction of monasteries and churches, schools and shelters. They gave money to poor and needy people, sponsored education of their employees1 children and invested in their hometown's beautification. Their foundation helped to build a trade school, a religious school, a municipal school. One of the brothers, Ivan Stakheyev, organized and maintained an almshouse for women and an orphanage. He also built The Virgin of Kazan Convent and brought telephone communication to the nearby town of Naberezhnye Chelny.
The edifice of the Diocese School for Women, built in 1898 in "Vyatka Baroque" style, is a unique monument of the Russian classical architecture of the 19th century. It was constructed by well-known benefactress Glafira Stakheyeva. Since that time, educational process never stopped in this building destined to religious education and upbringing of the clergy's and the middle classes' children. At different times, different schools occupied the building. Today, the branch of Kazan Federal University, former Yelabuga Teachers College, occupies the building. I had the luck to study in this magnificent edifice for five years. I dare say that studying within historical walls leaves a wholesome stamp, fills with patriotism, arouses love for this place and simply imposes cultural self-perfection. This place has been a true shrine of science, education and upbringing for more than a hundred years. Hard, one-meter-thick walls are impregnated with spirit of knowledge; they have been witnesses of many exams and tests. What a pleasure to listen to lectures on linguistics in these small auditoriums with high vaulted ceilings; to look through a philosophy textbook sitting in a deep old window niche; to walk up wide stone stairs decorated with massive balusters and wooden handrails. This mighty building, like an old folio, is passing on, in intangible and tacit way, the message left by the Stakheyevs — to breed and educate a good human who will impart spirituality and kindness to children, other people and the whole surrounding world.
In early 19th century there was a woman modestly living in Yelabuga, resting on her laurels and writing memoirs. It was the first Russian woman officer. In 1806, when she was twenty-three years old, Na-dezhda Durova disguised in Cossack uniform and passing herself off as a male, joined up in the army. For her courageous service, she was awarded St. George Cross and promoted to the officer rank. The rumors reached soon Russian Emperor's ears and Nadezhda Durova was summoned up incognito to Emperor Alexander I palace. The latter was so impressed with her courage and yearning for military service that he allowed her to stay with the colours under an assumed male name of Alexander Alexandrov. He made her swear that she would never betray her gender to anyone. In those days, a woman to serve in the army was absolutely intolerable; female's lot was housekeeping and children. Nadezhda Durova kept her oath. This brave woman officer participated in the Patriotic War of 1812 and fought in the famous Battle of Borodino against Napoleon's troops. Later on, she served as an orderly to field marshal M. Kutuzov.
After Nadezhda Durova resigned, she lived in Yelabuga, sheltering countless pets and writing memoirs entitled "Notes of a Cavalry Maiden" as well as other stories, which received enthusiastic reviews of Pushkin. Visitors can see her modest unpretentious way of life displayed in the museum located in the historical center of Yelabuga. The Austrian writer and artist Marianna Fiegel was so much impressed by the story of Nadezhda Durova that, in 2010, she wrote a libretto for the opera entitled The Cavalry Maiden. Jan Adriaan De Wit, professor of music and dramatic arts at the Mozarteum University, composed the music for the opera. On January 14, 2012, the opera had a successful premier in Salzburg, great Mozart's hometown.
Yelabuga had not only attracted famous people as a place of residence and creation; the town gave birth to its own talents. On January 13, 1832, the family of a local merchant Ivan Shishkin was happy to announce the birth of Vanya Shishkin junior who would become in the future world famous Russian landscape artist. His father was not an ordinary person, he was businessman, generous sponsor and benefactor, philosopher and engineer. When he was elected mayor of Yelabuga, Ivan Shishkin Sr. spent his own money to arrange a running water supply system, first in the town and in the governorate. He also participated in ar-cheological excavations and restored the historical Yelabuga antique site ("Devil's Cliff tower").
When the merchant's son chose the artist's career, a thing never seen in Shishkins' family, father decided not to impede the young talent. Young and talented Vanya (Ivan Shishkin Jr.) first entered Moscow School of Painting, and then St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. In those days, only Neapolitan landscapes were popular with artists and in arts schools and Ivan honestly draw them, but he always painted simple Russian landscapes, the nature of his home region on the backside of his works. The Academy's Board was anxious about Ivan Shishkin's inclination to draw "simple bushes and creeks". Willing to bring him back, academicians suggested him to draw Russian nature in the early spring, when it is too dull to be reflected in art. Drawings made by Ivan Shishkin received unanimous high appreciation of the Board.
Within years of studies in St. Petersburg, the young artist was awarded several silver and gold medals for his works, but the most precious reward was the possibility to continue his studies abroad. When he came back to Russia, he continued to paint the landscapes of his home region, joyous and alight with sunrays: "Pine Trees Lit Up by the Sun", "Ship Timber Grove", "The Horizons of Vyatka", "The Morning in a Pine Forest", "Rye", "Holy Spring Near Yelabuga".
Shishkin's art belongs to the new school of Russian landscape painting. His contemporary, great Russian portraitist I. Kramskoy appreciated the scale of his companion as follows: "Shishkin is a milestone in the development of the Russian school of landscape painting, he is himself this School"..
Visitors can see Shishkin's works in his house-museum that keeps the atmosphere of a cozy merchant's house of the 19th century. These hospitable rooms were the place where prominent citizens gathered: merchants Stakheyevs, manufactures Ushkovs, painters I. Osokin and K. Gun, E. Oznobishin and brothers Vereshchagin, famous cavalry maiden Durova.
Let us stroll quietly around the old town. Here is the memorial house of Marina Tsvetayeva, outstanding poetess of the Silver Age of Russian poetry. Here, she spent the last eleven days of her life. Marina Tsvetayeva was an extraordinary person; she possessed a very special poetic gift. The Nobel Prize winner in literature Boris Pasternak said about Tsvetayeva, "You need to immerse yourself in her poems. When I did this, I was amazed at the depth and the strength I discovered". We can trace the affecting story of friendship, love and shared creation of two great Russian poets through reading their correspondence, which lasted more than ten years. They inspired and supported each other in difficult times; many of their poems were devoted to each other.
The exhibition halls and galleries, the Museum of Town's History, the Theatre-Museum "The Tavern", the Bekhterev Museum of District Medicine, the Wash-house Museum where you can find out interesting information about the history of soap making and the ways to wash laundry in different epochs, all of these places require more than one day for visiting.
I love to return to Yelabuga in the summer. After half an hour on a picturesque road trip, with the views of green fields and dark woods, reminding you of Shishkin's landscape paintings, you end up in a very different dimension. Here, the heart does not pound as fast as elsewhere, the pace of life slowdowns and you feel like you have nowhere to hurry. You feel like being on vacation. No rush, you just stroll among merchants' mansions and wooden houses with traditionally decorated front porches. You rest near the cool fountains on Shishkin Ponds, you chat with the locals. The people of Yelabuga are very open, sincere and hospitable; they manage to combine the best features taken from different epochs.
For instance, besides phonetics, grammar, sociology and so forth, my teachers always taught newcomer students the town's history, unceasingly organized tours of places of interest and excursions to different museums. This work did not disappear without a trace. Now, former student and German language teacher Galina Achintseva follows these good traditions by passing this passion on to her students. In view to expand her students' horizons and to reveal the whole world, she was the first in Tatarstan to organize student exchange program between Yelabuga and Germany.
Yelabuga serves as a wonderful example of unity between different cultures and old traditions. Every year, the creative intelligentsia comes here for professional contacts and cultural exchange. Some of the projects got the international recognition since 2010. During the last few years, more than two hundred artists from thirteen countries took part in the art symposiums held in Yelabuga. They came from Russia, Turkey, Great Britain, Egypt, China, India, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
From June 8 to June 17, 2012, Yelabuga State Museum-Preserve of History, Architecture and Art organized the Seventh International Art Symposium called "The Lullaby or Bishek Zhyry". It is devoted to the 180th anniversary of Ivan Shishkin. The symposium aims to consider a very important and topical subject of childhood, kindness and humanism in pictorial arts.
Well, the modern life of Yelabuga is in full swing! In December 2000, the UNESCO recognized Yelabuga as a city of culture, science, education and of developed economy. The town was awarded a special diploma and the "Palm Branch of Peace" gold medal. In 2010, according to the results of the international contest, Yelabuga State Museum-Preserve was cited among twenty-five best museums of Europe. In the same year, the museum was awarded Yuriy Senkevich National Tourism Prize and was given the title of "The Best Regional Museum in Russia".
Every year, in the late summer, Yelabuga hosts the All-Russia Spassky Fair. Masters of folk crafts and decorative arts come here from more than fifty cities of Russia bringing their jewelry, ethnic costumes, linen clothes, downy shawls, wood decor, weaving, ceramics, hammering and stamping, items made of bast fiber, of glass and vine and many other things. The best bell ringers from different parts of the country come here for the Festival of Bell Ringing. During three days, melodic ringing from the bell tower of the Spassky (Savior's) Cathedral resounds over the city. Bell ringing is a pretty complex art! Moreover, they say that the sound of bells ringing improves the environment.
Not only culture and tourism develop here. In 2006, a special industrial and manufacturing economic zone called "Alabuga", the largest in Russia, was created here. Twenty-six resident companies have already received special preferences and advantages for their business activities.
In the course of the meeting with the representatives of the Golden Plaza magazine, the chairperson of the Municipal Chamber of Social and Economic Development of Yelabuga, Irina Timofeyeva said,
"In 2011 a decision was made to expand the Alabuga special economic zone by two thousand hectares. People only work in the special zone, but they live in town. We need to invest in our education, health services, utilities, and other fields in order to make the living standards of Yelabuga citizens equal to those of skilled foreign workers. We envisage the realization of few investment projects, which will help to stimulate the growth of small and middle entrepreneurship. We are also planning to create the center of cluster development for the Alabuga Association of Auto Spare Parts Manufacturers. A production center with all necessary connected utilities will considerably lower the expenses of the entrepreneurs when setting up a new business.
Today, the government of Tatarstan leads the policy of modernization of the economy and of the general development of the Republic. I believe that the inhabitants of both Naberezhnye Chelny and Yelabuga will make a substantial contribution to the newest history of our country. Beautiful people living on beautiful land.
By Dina Gizyatova