Day 1: Kazan, Russia

It’s Day 5 of my month-long trek. Let’s rewind to Day 1.

Kazan.

I decided to visit the city out of my guilt for not seeing any of Russia’s “Golden Ring” cities- historical centers famous for their century-old Kremlins (city fortresses) and Russian Orthodox Churches. Kazan is also the capital of Tatarstan, one of Russia’s 21 republics, regions with non-Russian ethnic majorities that have the authority to establish their own constitutions. Tatars are Turkic people who migrated to the area during the time of the Golden Horde (14-15th century) and adopted Islam as their religion.

It’s a quirky city. You can feel a sense of the Middle East in some of it’s older streets. I have theory that it’s in the dust that’s in a constant process of settling and un-settling on its streets. Or the fact that you can find mosques alongside churches throughout the city.

The most famous of these is the fairytale Kul-Sharif Mosque. It’s located in the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage site that contains dozens of other historical monuments, places of worship, and museums. Inside you can find an Islamic Cultural Museum with some beautiful examples of Islamic calligraphy.

This is the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, located approximately five minutes from the Kremlin (ul Musy Dzhalilya 21). I’ve been to a fair number of Russian Orthodox churches, in Moscow and elsewhere, and I have to say this was amongst the most beautiful I have ever seen. It was built between 1723 and 1726 to commemorate Peter the Great’s visit to the city. The external decoration is very unique, and the interior is equally astounding.

Bell-tower of the Kazan Kremlin

My time here was brief- an eight hour layover between trains. To be realistic, I think that was more than enough time to see the city’s most important sites.

Annunciation Cathedral in the Kazan Kremlin

Days 2, 3, 4, and 5 to come.

Kazan Train Station

До встречи! (Until next time!)

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