‘We are following the path of Kazan’

‘We are following the path of Kazan’
Photo: Шакирова Галия

New modular public toilets, art objects, equipped observation decks with binoculars and several dozen historical buildings, which are appearing to residents and guests of Yelabuga literally in a new light. This is not a complete list of transformations implemented with a grant of 175 million rubles. Let us remind that in 2022, Kazan and Yelabuga were among the three dozen winners in the competition of the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) for the implementation of the tourist code of the city center. They were allocated funding totalling 387.7 million rubles. A total of 85 cities and municipalities with a population of 5,000 to 2 million people from 56 subjects of the Russian Federation submitted applications at that time. The prize fund was 6 billion rubles.

“The project on the arrangement of the tourist code of the city center was invented by Rostourism. The measure was included in the list of activities of the national project “Tourism and the Hospitality Industry”, which was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. After travelling around the country, the head of the federal agency realised that there are a lot of beautiful places that are still in such a state that it is dark for tourists in the evening, there are no toilets, there is no normal navigation, there is no brand book as such. It became a shame, and a story was invented: those tourist cities in which there is already a large flow of tourists can be helped to create a beautiful, comfortable finished environment for visiting guests. A federal competition was announced. Yelabuga was among the winners. But the competition was very high," said Sergey Ivanov, the chairman of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Architectural lighting was installed at 68 cultural heritage sites and monuments of monumental art. Галия Шакирова / realnoevremya.ru

Out of the shadows

The head of the Yelabuga municipal district of the Republic of Tatarstan, Mayor Rustem Nuriev, in turn, admitted that the mayor's office did not reinvent the wheel and turned to professionals — a company from Yaroslavl, which developed the winning draft of the application.

“When we had already won, our architects, the Kazakov sisters, were making working design and estimate documentation. They designed all the lighting," the mayor of Yelabuga added. As a result, architectural lighting was installed on 68 cultural heritage sites and monuments of monumental art, including the Spassky and Pokrovsky Cathedrals, as well as the historical building of the current Yelabuga Institute of the KFU and museums.

Pokrovsky Cathedral in the New World. Галия Шакирова / realnoevremya.ru

“The Kama cinema is the most difficult building from the point of view of visualisation, they did everything right, and it became an ornament of the city, but it was terrible," said Nuriev.

“Yelabuga has been transformed significantly," Ivanov shared his impressions, adding that “the correct list of events has been determined”.

It should be noted that by the results of the previous year, the tourist flow to this city amounted to 1 million 8 thousand people, an increase of 48 thousand compared to 2022. Seventy-four thousand people visited Ivan Shishkin's house-museum alone, which is equal to the population of Yelabuga.

Tourist flow to Yelabuga amounted to 1 million 8 thousand people, an increase of 48 thousand compared to 2022. Галия Шакирова / realnoevremya.ru

Gulzada Rudenko, the director general of the Yelabuga State Historical, Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve, admitted that for 20 years she had dreamed of organising the illumination of cultural heritage sites. Her dream has come true by 95%.

"95% has been lighted. When all this happened, literally in December 2023, in January, there was really no end to joy and happiness. For Yelabuga citizens, first of all, and for tourists who come here, this is a really beautiful sight. Now many people come from the new part of the city to walk around the historical center. This is a revival of those traditions that used to be," Rudenko said.

Besides, she said that tourists complained about the lack of toilets. Now 4 stylised toilet modules worth about 1.2 million each are installed on the main tourist routes. On 191 buildings, banners were replaced to match the historical environment, and outdoor lamps, small architectural forms were created — sculptures Lamplighter, since street gas lighting appeared in Yelabuga in one of the first in the Russian Empire, and dedicated to the father of the famous artist Ivan Shishkin — Ivan Vasilyevich, who spent his own money to lay central water supply in the city.

Tourist flow to the Shishkin house museum is equal to the population of Yelabuga — 74 thousand people. Галия Шакирова / realnoevremya.ru

“This year we will change the pipe on Gassara Street. It's from 1900. There are even wooden elements of that time," Nuriyev added.

The director of the museum-reserve did not shy away and said that, in her opinion, “this project was carried out just fine in Yelabuga”.

However, the mayor of the city told Realnoe Vremya that this is just the beginning.

“We have a fire tower on Moskovskaya Street. We will address it. We will light it. Already using our own money," Nuriev assured.

Lamplighter reminds residents and guests of Yelabuga that the city was among the first in the Russian Empire to have gas street lighting. Галия Шакирова / realnoevremya.ru

On the way with Kazan

Kazan is also an example for Yelabuga in the issue of tourism development.

“Today we are following the path of great services, the path of Kazan. Investors' interest in our buildings and cultural heritage sites is already being felt today. We also have options to pay for a “ruble” to save the building. There are many of them. We can't say that everything is fine here. We have to work hard here. Almost 500 hectares of historical squares. They require constant attention. It is necessary to invest in it all the time. If we invest heavily in infrastructure, of course, the tourist flow will not decrease," Nuriyev said.

The problems of the shortage of rooms during the widely advertised events — the Spasskaya Fair, the Boris Berezovsky International Music Festival Summer Evenings in Yelabuga were also touched upon.

“There are no places in hotels for these days already... I really hope that in the near future we will have several new hotels and guest houses. The construction of a restaurant and a 50-room hotel is in full swing on Kazanskaya Street. We are gradually working on this," Rudenko said.

Already today there are no rooms in hotels for the days of the Spasskaya Fair and the Boris Berezovsky Music Festival in Yelabuga. Галия Шакирова / realnoevremya.ru

According to Ivanov, other cities of Tatarstan will be improved following the example of Yelabuga.

“This support measure has left the national project. It can be said that Yelabuga got into the only car that was there. We expected that we would be preparing more cities. But the cases were transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development and the strategy was slightly revised. But it's ok. There are many beautiful cities in Tatarstan. The city of Chistopol has great potential — the work on the restoration and reconstruction of the historical center should still take place... In this sense, Chistopol is not inferior to Yelabuga and many others. We have a wonderful tourist center in Tetyushi… It is necessary to equip the urban environment, primarily for tourists. Yelabuga was a city that, thanks to teamwork, was able to prepare a conscious, correct, understandable application very quickly. In other cities, it is still necessary to form historical centers and hold public discussions. This is a process that requires several steps. One can't prepare it in one month," summed up the head of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Galiya Shakirova