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Kazan, the Capital of Tatarstan

Kazan is unique city situated on the banks of the Volga river. Город, где встречаются Запад и Восток, разные культуры и традиции (It is the place where East and West meet, with their differences of cultures and traditions). It is the capital of the republic of Tatarstan. But Kazan can also be considered as the Islam capital of the Russian Federation.

Ислам – главная религия республики, а татары (основной её этнос) издавна исповедуют эту веру (Islam is the main religion of the republic of Tatarstan, and the Tatars (its main ethnic group) have long followed this confession). For this reason, you can find lots of mosques, of different architectural style, richly or modestly decorated.

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One of the main and most beautiful mosques of the republic Kul Sharif, stands proudly in the middle of the principal attraction of Kazan, the Kremlin. Строительство мечети, которая не только принимает верующих, но и является музеем, рассказывающим об истории ислама в Татарстане и в России в целом (The mosque was built not only for the use of the believers, but also as a museum telling us the history of Islam in the Tatarstan republic and in whole Russia). Its construction began in 1996 and was completed in 2005, just on time for the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of Kazan.

The construction of the mosque Kul Sharif was originally intended as a reconstruction of the main mosque of the Khanate of Kazan with lots of beautiful minarets, and which had been destroyed by the troops of Ivan the Terrible in 1552, when the first Russian tsar decided to punish the citizens of Kazan for their numerous raids on the land of Muscovy.

The last imam of that mosque was called Kul-Sharif. And the new mosque was named after him in his honnour. Надо сказать, что в Татарстане до сих пор помнят то поражение от войск Ивана Грозного и последующий захват Казани (I must say, that in Tatarstan, the defeat against the army of Ivan the Terrible and the subsequent capture of Kazan hasn’t been forgotten until now). You can find in Kazan’s bookstores many nationalist editions in Tatar language, in which the Russian invaders are insulted and called aggressors. But this is only one side of the coin.

Сегодня в Казани мирно и вполне успешно сосуществуют ислам и православие (Today in Kazan, Islam and Orthodox religion live peacefully and successfully together). In the Kremlin which was founded in the 10th century, the mosque is close to a large Orthodox cathedral, to the residence of the President of the Republic and to several museums telling the history of the peaceful coexistence between different peoples, religions and cultures in the region for centuries.

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The very same Kazan is very similar by its aspect and spirit to many European cities. It has a very interesting architecture, canals, and even a lake in the city centre. Kazan is a nice place to spend few days just to look around and relax. The most convenient way to reach Kazan is certainly by train, which leave Moscow in the evening and leave you on the bank of the Volga river next morning.

Евгения Плещунова