A mosque in a kremlin?! Easily, if this is the Kremlin in Kazan. Here, on the banks of the mighty Volga river, Islam and Christianity peacefully coexist.
Once Kazan was the bitterest enemy of Russia. Until the middle of the 16th century it was a capital of Kazan Khanate - a Tatars' state harassing Russia with frequent and devastating raids. When in the 1552 Kazan Kremlin finally fell to the army of Ivan the Terrible, the joy in Moscow went to the skies. In commemoration of this event St Basil's Cathedral was built.
Today Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan Republic which even has its own President. Half of its citizens are Russians and half are Tatars. The 1000 years old city also officially holds the title of the third capital in Russia.
Kazan is only 1.5 hours flight from Moscow. You can also take an overnight train from Kazansky railway station. We plan a tour there in the middle of April, you are welcome to join!
What to see in Kazan:
1. Kazan Kremlin
Built on the steep hill above the river the Kremlin is a real stronghold. It is the only kremlin in Russia where you can find a church and a mosque standing side by side.
2. Tatars Quarter
Kazan is a modern city, but it leaves space for such charming streets with traditional tatar houses.
3. Kremlin embankment
The main promenade of Kazan citizens, especially in the evenings. A place to ride a bike, enjoy a sunrise, or listen to a concert.
4. The kazan - the Marriage Registrations Office
One of the newest pieces of modern architecture in Kazan is a gigantic kazan - a traditional pot for cooking a tatar dish plov. It is not just a monument to the local culinary customs, but also a place where two can register their marriage!
5. The Palace of Farmers
Another modern landmark of the city - a Ministery of Agriculture. A 20 meters bronze tree in its central arch is lit up with green at night and looks being covered with foliage.
6. The Temple of All Religions
A few kilometers from Kazan a local artist built this architectural complex on his own garden plot. He devoted last 19 years of his life to its construction. It is not an active temple, but rather a monument to unity and peace.
7. Peter and Pavel Church
This church with "grapes twined" walls was built in commemoration of Peter the Great's 50th birthday he celebrated in Kazan.
8. Svyazhsk island
If you have come to Kazan for more than one day, you might like an idea of a daytrip to the oldest Russian settlement in the region - a town (today a small settlement of 243 people) Svyazhsk. It was founded in the 16th century on the high bank on the river, but the raised water level in the Volga (done for the power plant purposes) turned it into a island. A dam built in the 2000s made it possible to reach it by car. However getting there by a ferry remains an option and guarantees the traveler 2.5 hours of the Volga vast views.