Let’s start from the Kremlin.
Of all towns I have in plan to visit in Russia, I think Kazan should be one of the most interesting because of its strong character as capital of Tatarstan. Beside that, the town is famous for its Kremlin and of course I will start from it my visit. My train from Moscow arrives on time but I’m quite sleepy. I went to bed very late and this morning I could not sleep until Kazan because the other guy in the compartment went down in a small town one hour before. When he saw it, after being silent for the entire trip he turned on and, in English, told that we were approaching Green City as he says (name is Zelenodolsk), his hometown. Now I’m in Kazan and the soviet style hotel I’ve booked is actually in a very good location, halfway between Railway Station and Kremlin. I can easily walk to it and before noon I’m in the room. Kazan has same timezone of Moscow. I don’t rest too much and I immediately head to the very impressive Kremlin. What I notice immediately is the Mosque. I think this one is the only Kremlin hosting a Mosque within its walls and it is quite a recent story because the Qolşärif Mosque was completed in 2005. Weather is very cloudy and it’s a pity because I’m sure that white walls of Kremlin would be much nicer with bright sun. I enter the Kremlin from the top of the hill on 1st May square and I walk the inner alleys in the direction of the river. Beside the mosque there are other beautiful buildings including the seat of the president of Tatarstan Republic. Having in the past visited only areas around Moscow and Saint Petersburg I start to understand only now the meaning of the word “Federation” when referring to Russia. At the end of the Kremlin on the river side, the street goes downward leading to a small gate exiting very close to the riverbank.
A town in ferment.
There are not many people walking along the riverside boulevard because weather is even worst now and rain starts to fall but nevertheless it is still quite busy because Kazan is going to be one of the four towns, together with Saint Petersburg, Sochi and obviously Moscow, hosting the Football Confederation Cup that will start in about one week. There are signs everywhere and all the town is doing its best to be ready. I’m sure all the tourists will be positively impressed. However, for the moment the walk on the riverbank is not particularly interesting. On the other side of the river Kazan I see a pot-shaped building and people on the top of it. I have no idea of what it could be but it is likely related to the meaning of word Kazan in the Tatar language that is cauldron. Well, I didn’t say anything about that yet. Here in Kazan beside Russian, official language is also the Tatar, a Turkic language, using Cyrillic and that reminds me a bit of the Uzbek. At least they say “Thank you” in the same way: Rahmat. And joke apart, also faces of people belonging to this ethnic group, to me look like Uzbek ones. During my quite boring stroll, while I’m eating a corn on the cob, I see finally something absolutely amazing. There is a building, the seat of the ministry of Agriculture that has a huge tree in front of the main gate. Is something difficult to describe with words that’s why I put a pic instead. I have to get much closer to understand that is completely artificial. A beautiful contemporary piece of art. Art can really improve our mood but, by the way, also the weather is improving. Rain stopped and sun rays are now piercing the clouds. A quick walk around allows me to see some ruins and gives time to the sun to eventually win its battle against clouds, a good reason to go again to the Kremlin to see it and photograph it with this better light.
Second round in the Kremlin.
Sun with its sweet end-of-the-day lights makes the Kremlin magic. Details that in my first walk were completely ignored now detect my attention. It is really beautiful. There are people entering in the mosque for a visit and I join them. I’m surprised I can keep the shoes but the reason is soon discovered. Tourists are not allowed to enter where people is praying but they can get up to a sort of terrace from where there’s full view of the interiors. I hear the guide explaining something to his tourist group talking about their President and he is actually referring to President of Tatarstan Republic not Vladimir Putin. They really feel something different here and I guess they are. I feel already in Asia even if I’ve not crossed the Ural Mountains yet. Getting back to the Mosque, I have to say that it doesn’t impress too much. Interiors are not beautiful as the outside and I don’t think it is because is not an old one. In my life most astounding mosques I saw were recent built like the Mir Mövsöm Ziyarǝtgah near Baku, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi or the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. After the visit to the mosque I walk back to the hotel while a rainbow fills the sky. I really feel very tired. I wanted to try some local food but now in the end my restaurant is going to be a McDonald very close to the hotel. And while I’m busy with a MacBacon you can review my crispy gallery of pictures from days in Kazan.