An Old City
Moscow and St. Petersburg are the two largest Russian cities; they are also the most popular tourist destinations. If I were to recommend you somewhere apart from these two cities to go in Russia, I would say “go to Kazan”. I have been there twice. Kazan is not a typical Russian city, not least because it is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, a Muslim republic within Russia. The Republic of Tatarstan borders Udmurtia (or the Udmurt Republic). Kazan is 400 km away from Izhevsk and about 800 km away from Moscow. It is situated on the left bank of the river Volga and has a population of over 1,000,000 people.
Kazan wasn’t always a Russian city. It is more than 1,000 years old; the first mention of Kazan refers to the 10th century when it was a city of the country of Volga Bulgaria. Then, in the 13th century, when Russia was invaded by the Mongol-Tatars, Kazan became the capital of the Kazan Khanate.
The Mongol-Tatar yoke was shaken off in the 15th century and several decades later Kazan became part of Russia. The mosque you can see in the photo is situated within the Kazan Kremlin walls. It is a replica of one of the mosques that used to stand there. The Kazan Kremlin dates from the period of the Kazan Khanate and consists of a group of historic buildings. The Kazan Kremlin was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list a few years ago. Did you know that St. Basil’s Cathedral (see photo below) on Red Square was built upon the order of Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV) to celebrate the fall of Kazan after he had seen one of the Kazan Kremlin mosques (which no longer exists) which had captured his imagination.
That mosque was notable for its minarets, rich, colourful exterior and ornate interior. It’s true that St. Basil’s Cathedral is unlike any other Russian church and if you look at it closely, you will notice that it really resembles a mosque.
By the way, I have followed a piece of advice one of you gave me and I am on Facebook now. The reason I put registering with Facebook off for so long is that I didn’t have many foreign friends but now I think it makes all sense and it will help me to keep in touch :) I will certainly upload my wedding photos on my profile, so if you are curious, have a look at my profile after the 4th of May.
As far as the wedding invitations are concerned, I expect to receive them on Tuesday so you will be able to try your hand at the selection of a wedding invitation on Wednesday. Let’s see whether you see eye to eye with each other :)
I am not sure whether we will be able to go on a honeymoon straight after the wedding because Alex got a transfer to London and he can’t start his job there by going on holiday. But, anyway, the plan is to go to Thailand, or Malaysia.
Now I must love you and leave you with a photo of Alex and me. It was taken last summer a few minutes after we conquered Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. This is where I saw snow in July. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see anything from the summit because of the fog, but there were a few stunning panoramic views in the last third of the way to the top of the mountain; one of them was lakes surrounded by trees that looked like a green carpet. I absolutely love nature!
With best wishes,
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