Federal District
"The city of Sarai is one of the most beautiful cities on plain land, bustling with active people, with fine bazaars and broad streets. The city is inhabited by different peoples: Mongols, real inhabitants of the country and its lords, some of them are Muslims; Alans, who are Muslims; the Ki pchaks, the Circassians, Russians, and the Byzantine Greeks, who are Christians."

lbn Battuta,
Moroccan scholar that widely traveled the
medieval world
Volga Federal District

Islam was first brought to the Middle Volga Region by the Bulgars, who had already adopted the religion by the time they arrived there. In his notes on the Volga Bulgars, Arab
traveller Ahmad ibn Fadlan described these semi-nomadic tribes as Muslims who built mosques and madrasas. Over
the centuries, the Volga Region was home to various states, such as Volga Bulgaria, the Golden Horde and the Khanate of Kazan, which were the northernmost territories of the Islamic civilization. Nowadays, there more than 1,000 mosques in Tatarstan alone, including Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan, which is the pick of the bunch.

Main information
about the district

Area (km2)

1 036 975

Population, 2019
29 397 715

Administrative center
Nizhny Novgorod

Bolgar – Tatarstan – A monument to the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who arrived here before the ancestors of the present-day Tatars

The Bulgars did not inhabit the Middle Volga Region in the first half of the 7th century, when Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sent three of his companions to the lands of the Bulgars, who were said to miraculously cure the khan's sick daughter, and then went on to build mosques and spread Islam in these territories. One of the companions stayed in Bolgar and married the khan's healed daughter Tuy Bika. This legend seems to date back to the days when the Bulgars lived in the steppes next to the Black and Azov seas, which bordered on Byzantium.

Vladimir Putin in Kazan looking at a model of the Bolgar Islamic Academy

During his visit, Vladimir Putin discussed the Muslim educational system with Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, the principal muftis of Russia's religious organizations and the key figures at the Bolgar Islamic Academy. The Russian president said, "It is a beautiful project, and also a very important one for our country. Let's discuss how it develops, what else should be done to treat the things present in the Muslim world with respect, and yet develop the school to train the specialists based on our national foundations and the traditional Islam."

Bolgar Islamic Academy

The Bolgar Islamic Academy was inaugurated in Tatarstan in 2017, with numerous Russian clergymen and guests attending the opening ceremony. The idea to establish the academy was backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov signed a decree ordering the establishment of the Bolgar Islamic Academy in November 2015. The academy's primary goal is to nurture the elite of Russian Islamic theological school.The entire complex of buildings of the Bolgar Islamic Academy was constructed within a year. Postgraduate students from across Russia study at the academy.

The White Mosque in Bolgar

The mosque was inaugurated on June 10th , 2012. The complex comprises the mosque, a set of administrative buildings and a madrasa. The square is enclosed by an arcade made up of 88 columns, and has a fountain in the middle. At the opening ceremony, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov said, "When we discussed its concept, an idea occurred to us that this mosque should embody the entire legacy inherent in Islam."

The Northern Mausoleum and the Commemorative Sign honoring the adoption of Islam as a symbol of historical continuity, linking the past with the present

The Northern Mausoleum was built in the 1330s. It is a part of the Bolgar State Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mausoleums like this were quite popular in the Muslim world back then. They were normally built above the graves of noblemen. There are tombstones inside the mausoleum, which were discovered when the site was excavated. The stones hold numerous inscriptions, making them all but a solitary source of knowledge of the past time, language, religion, and people's social status. The inscriptions were made in two languages, Bulgar (Tatar) and Arabic.

Rashida Mosque in the Nizhny Novgorod Region

The Rashida Mosque was built in 1992. According to the architects' concept, the stone mosque is designed to resemble a flower with five petals, three of which are crowned with domes. The mosque also houses a local history museum featuring several exhibitions about the history of Tatars in Nizhny Novgorod. One of the exhibitions deals with imams who were persecuted during the Soviet rule.

Samara Mosque

The Samara Mosque is a one-of-a-kind architectural complex, whose minaret is more than 60 meters in height and which has an area of 4,800 m2 and can simultaneously accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers. The mosque was built on a historical site, where an ancient Muslim settlement used to be. Visitors are awed by a white marble mihrab, which is illuminated with the diffused colored light during the daytime pouring in through the stained-glass windows.

Nizhny Novgorod Mosque

The mosque, which was first opened in 1915, is the main Muslim place of worship in Niznhy Novgorod. Nowadays, the mosque is also an educational center. Apart from the Sunday school, which has been opened soon after the completion of the mosque, there is also a madrasa now.This was the last stone mosque to be constructed before the 1917 revolution. It is popularly known as the "mosque on the hill" as, for quite a long while, it was one of the city's highest points. The mosque's imam, Umar Khazrat, said, "During the Soviet era, the mosque was used as a storehouse, a hospital and a kindergarten, but even in these capacities it benefitted the people."

Nizhnekamsk Mosque

The mosque was constructed between 1989 and 1996 and was inaugurated ahead of city's 30th anniversary.The mosque is a contemporary place of worship, which was designed to reflect the city's youthfulness and energy while also paying homage to ethnic motifs. The mosque is one of the city's tallest and most readily recognizable buildings.
Soltan Mosque

The stone mosque in the Old Tatar Sloboda in Kazan is an exemplary piece of the religious Tatar architecture, which was built according to the traditions of the Tatar and Bulgar medieval architecture, combining Eclecticism with Romanesque style. The mosque was constructed in 1868 and was one of Kazan's most splendid edifices at the time to be located in the Tatar part of the city. The first-ever salah at the mosque was held by Tatar theologian and educator Shigabutdin Marjani. In 1931, the mosque was closed by the Soviet authorities. In 1990, its minaret was restored, before the mosque was given back to the believers in 1994.

Caravanserai in Orenburg

The Orenburg Caravanserai is a complex of historical buildings constructed in 1837–1846 by public subscription to house the chancellery of the commander of the Bashkir and Mishar Tatar troops, an inn for merchants, who came to Orenburg "for their own needs and on business errands," a workshop and a school for believers. The complex comprises a Bashkir community hall and a mosque. Architect Aleksandr Bryullov's project was inspired by a traditional Bashkir village with a centrally located octagonal mosque dominating the layout.
Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan

The Kul Sharif Mosque is situated in the territory of the Kazan Kremlin and is one of the city's main tourist attractions.The construction of the mosque, which design had to echo the legendary multi-minaret mosque that once adorned the capital of the Khanate of Kazan, began in 1996. The historical mosque was demolished in October 1552 during Ivan the Terrible's siege of Kazan. The new mosque was named after the last Imam Sayyid Kul Sharif, who was one of the leaders of Kazan's defense.The mosque can house around 1,500 people while another 10,000 worshippers can pray at the adjacent square.The mosque was officially opened on June 24, 2005, the year when Kazan celebrated the 1000th anniversary of its founding.Each of the four main minarets is 58 meters in height. The mosque also has two smaller minarets. The dome has a height of 39 meters and a diameter of 17 meters. The mosque is adorned with Tatar decorative motifs and, in spite of its impressive size and proportions, seems to be delicate and graceful. It is a symbol of renascent spirituality.

Central Mosque in Izhevsk

For a long while, there was the only one active mosque in the capital of Udmurtia. However, it was too small to host the growing population of Muslims. The Muslims did their best to gain a land plot in the center of the city for the construction of the new mosque. The first step towards the dream was made in 2003 when the foundation stone was laid. The construction lasted for 13 years.

Al-Marjani Mosque

The Al-Marjani Mosque was the first mosque built in Kazan under Russian rule. The mosque was constructed in 1766–1770 following the consent of Empress Catherine the Great, whom Tatars often called "grandmother tsarina" as she was more tolerant to Islam than other Russian rulers. It was the first stone mosque to be built in Kazan since it was captured by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. As the legend goes, when the construction of the mosque began, the city authorities wrote to Catherine the Great the following letter: "You have permitted Muslims to construct mosques, but they are building it too high." The Empress's reply was as follows: "I designated a plot of land for them, but they are free to rise as high into the sky as they please, since the sky is not my domain."

Mosque in the village of Srednyaya Elyuzan

Srednyaya Elyuzan in the Penza Region is one of the largest Tatar villages with a population of 10,000 people and 11 active mosques. It brings one joy to see the spiritual life of the village that boasts madrasas both for men and women, halal meat processing plants and grocery stores where sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. During the Ramadan fast, local dwellers lay the tables outside the mosques for the iftars and treat everyone who feels like having a bite to courses of the national cuisine, including the famous birch sap soup.

Saratov Region, Znamenskoye village

The mosque in Znamenskoye was built in 1998. It is one of the most beautiful edifices in the entire Saratov Region. This photo is notable for symbolizing the light of faith that leads us away from the darkness of ignorance.

Saratov Mosque

The Saratov Mosque is the main Muslim place of worship in the city, which was reconstructed in the 2000s. The first stone mosque was built here in 1836. It was closed in the 1930s when the new Soviet regime began persecuting people for their religious beliefs. The building was first used as a warehouse for paints and building materials, and since 1983 as a sobering-up station, where drunk people were placed until they became sober. It was then partially destroyed and was not used for its original aims. It was not before 1989 that the building was given back to the believers, but, by that time, it was so dilapidated that they decided to tear it down and build a new mosque on the site instead. The present-day mosque has two domes and a single tall minaret. Its exterior features alternating stripes of red and white bricks. The prayer hall measures 500 square meters.

Lala Tulpan Mosque in Ufa

The mosque, which was inaugurated on April 7, 1998, is the Muslim religious center of the city of Ufa.The mosque was designed to resemble a blooming tulip, which is both a symbol of a new spring and a traditional emblem of Turkic peoples, with the twin minarets representing its two buds.The mosque was constructed by public subscription and with the support of the Republic of Bashkortostan's government. The mosque housed the Russian Islamic University between 1999 and 2005.In 2001, the mosque was visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The light-colored walls of the mosque and its two minarets are crowned with pink tops, which seem to be striving to fly up into the sky.

Interiors of the Lala Tulpan Mosque

The very name of the mosque, which translates as "tulip" into English, suggests that the so called floral ornament, which is often used by the Tatars and Bashkirs, would be also used here. The prayer hall with a balcony can hold up to 500 people and is decorated in Oriental style, with the patterns on the walls and in the stained-glass windows symbolizing the flowers of the heavenly trees, urging people to take their minds off the city hustle and fully devote themselves to praying.

Geese. Bashkortostan

The Republic of Bashkortostan's nature is truly unique, since it is a key element in forming the appearance of the Ural Mountains. Primeval forests, crystal clear rivers, healthful honey, wild herbs and grasses, abundant wildlife and magnificent mosques. This photo captures the geese, running towards a mosque and then flying heavenward, following people's prayers.

Sufia Mosque

This mosque is situated in the village of Kantyukovka, Sterlitamak region, the Republic of Bashkortostan. It is considered to be one of the republic's most beautiful mosques. The architect who designed the mosque said that he looked to interlace Oriental motifs with the culture of the Tatar and Bashkir peoples. The mosque sits on the bank of an artificial pond, which forms a single complex with the building. The mosque is covered with a decorative stones extracted in the Urals. The minute it was finished the mosque became a landmark not only for the village where it was erected but for the whole of Bashkortostan. The mosque was named after the mother of the project's main sponsor.

The blessing is in the movement

Islam in Russia is a common occurrence in politics, economics, science, arts and sports. Famed athletes serve as role models for a lot of young Russian Muslims. In Tatarstan, ice hockey is by far the most popular sport, and, as such, it plays a special part in the life of the locals. Thus, Emil Garipov, a goaltender for Ak Bars Kazan, which is the most awarded club in the history of the Kontinental Hockey League, is a shining example of a person, whose faith helps him reach new career heights. Garipov, who is regarded as one of the best ice hockey goaltenders in Russia, wears a mask with Arabic script on it during matches.

Golden Minbar International Film Festival in Kazan

The International Festival of Muslim Cinema is an open Russian film festival, held under the motto "Through the culture of dialogue to the dialogue of cultures." The festival has been held annually in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, since 2005. The festival is backed by Tatarstan's president, Kazan's mayor's office, Tatarstan's Ministry of Culture and the Russian Council of Muftis.The Grand Mufti of Russia, Sheikh Rawil Gaynetdin, and Tatarstan's first President Mintimer Shaimiev were the creative minds behind the festival.

Conference in Kazan

Thanks to the support of the government of the Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan annually hosts the All-Russian Forum of Tatar Clergymen. This year, more than 1,000 delegates from across Russia discussed national identity and religion at the forum. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov is one of the key figures taking part in the forum.

Kazan Summer Universiade

The XXVII Summer Universiade was held in Kazan from July 6 to July 17, 2013, showcasing to millions of people the rich history of one of Russia's most dynamically developing regions. The Kazan Summer Universiade was the first Games to be held in post-Soviet Russia. The 2013 Universiade saw 11,759 athletes from 162 countries compete for medals in 351 events across 27 sports, making it the biggest university games ever.Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Tatarstan's first President Mintimer Shaimiev and Tatarstan's incumbent President Rustam Minnikhanov all took part in the opening ceremony for the XXVII Summer Universiade in Kazan.

In the shade of God

The mosque in Roshchinsky Village of Sterlitamak district of the Republic of Bashkortostan stands 200 meters next
to the Orthodox Christian church. The buildings viewed at a certain angle represent a harmonious ensemble. The history of the mosque began in 1999. In that year, the first stone and its foundation were laid. The next year, in December 2000, the first adhan rang from its minaret, and the mosque opened the doors to the followers.

A message to the future

Tatarstan's State Counselor Mintimer Shaimiev and Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov attending the laying of the foundation stone for the Bolgar Islamic Academy. Thanks to their balanced and wise policies, the Republic of Tatarstan has become an example of harmonious coexistence of people of different religions. Mintimer Shaimiev is often referred to by locals as "babay," which means "grandfather" in Tatar, as a token of respect for his wisdom

Saratov summer camp

Under the auspices of the Russian Council of Muftis, the Saratov Region has been hosting all-Russian summer camps, titled "Muslim," for boys and girls alike since 2012. Hundreds of children from across Russia come to this picturesque place every year to have fun, study the basics of their religion and make friends.

Continuity of generations

The President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov greets young Tatars attending the festivities to mark the national holiday of Sabantuy.


Sabantuy, which means "the feast of the plough" in Turkic languages, is a Tatar and Bashkir annual national holiday celebrating the end of the spring sowing campaign. Other Volga Region peoples (such as Chuvash, Mari, Mordvins, and Udmurts) as well as other Turkic peoples celebrate similar holidays, which, however, have their own specific features.In some regions, Sabantuy's high point is marked by a Kurash wrestling competition, where wrestlers use towels to hold their opponents, whom they try to knock off their feet; while in others festivities culminate in a horse race. The winner is presented with a traditional prize, a male sheep.
Sabantuy is a family holiday, deeply rooted in the region's history and culture.