Russia, close to Kazan, Raifa Monastery

Russia, close to Kazan, Raifa Monastery

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Russia, close to Kazan, Raifa Monastery
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Катя, Али и Вадик Katya, Ali and Vadik. These students attend one of Kazan’s public high schools, also identified as a gymnasium. Shown in human scale, this photo was taken close to the entrance of the Raifa Monastery by Andre on 16 April 2006. Photo utilised with permission. Original text entered: April 2008. Text revised: 1 April 2009.

This view was taken outdoors the Raifa Monastery walls near Kazan, Tartarstan, Russia.

This is the web site of a religious complicated that is crucial to the cultural history of the area. It is also common among vacationers and neighborhood residents of Kazan. The active monastery, after once again associated with the Russian Othodox Church below the Archdiocese of Kazan, is situated in the vacinity of Zelenodolsk, a port city on the Volga about 40 km, or 25 miles, upriver from Kazan.

This religious order’s walled grounds include a number of historic towers, monumental gates, domed churchs, just like these noticed within Kazan’s ancient Kremlin, or walled fortress. The Raifa Monastery, was reestablished right after the fall of the Soviet government in the early 1990’s. From the 1930’s until just soon after the death of Stalin, the Raifa Monastery was employed as one of the infamous gulags.

This story was not as opposed to the fate of religious orders in France soon after its Revolution. The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud in the Loire region of western France became a prison for practically 200 years before its designation as a Planet Heritage Site and restoration started not long prior to Raifa Monastery initiated its return to a use as it was initially intended. As with Fontevraud, the use of Raifa as a prison may have deferred its complete destruction.

In 1954, the gulag was closed and the Raifa Monastery was transformed into a juvenile and youth offenders prison, euphemistically known as a training college. In 1991 as the Soviet state itself began a transformation into the the Russian Federation. Local civic and religious leaders petitioned for the return of the Raifa properties with assurances that the historic buildings and gounds would be far better managed under the path of a resurrected, albeit modern day, version of the orginal religeous order. An agreement was at some point reached with regional authorities to enable the restoration, nearly entirely with private funds. It appears to have been a social and economic benefit to the instant community ever given that.

The buildings that survived over 70 years of neglect and abuse are at present becoming restored and brought back to use by the religious order, but not without also embracing an updated mission acceptable to the requirements of the surrounding secular neighborhood in the 21st centrury.

These buildings are a lot more than just old landmarks, with some almost 400 years old. The buildings, most restored because 1991, are living symbols of each the religious and political importance of region surrounding Kazan spanning considerably of the ancient history and all of the contemporary history of Kazan and Russia.

Nowadays the Raifa Monastery sponsors a main school and an orphanage in addition to the religious mission of this renowned shrine. Vacationers, historians, those searching for a retreat and religious pilgrims alike are drawn to this monastery with a revived and renovated mission.

Kazan’s Kremlin, with walls even far more imposing that those at Raifa, is really much the cultural cradle of the area. In addtion to Kazan’s famous scientific university, Kazan’s Kremlin includes landmarks adorned with exotic towers and domes linked with two quite distinct classic religious shrines. A single is the the Russian Orthodox Blagoveshenskiy cathedral and the other is the Muslim Kul-Sharif mosque.

Kazan is the capital of the Tartarstan autonomous region positioned in south central Russia. As in a lot of historic Russian cities, Kazan’s orignal Kremlin and other pre-Revolutionary buildings and institutions are being preserved for neighborhood use, not just as tourist attractions. Nearby religious shrines like the Raifa Monastery are enjoying a similar revival in common interest. Nonetheless a lot of other equally intriguing historic buildings remain waiting in the surrounding regions for their advocates. Wonderful homes of 18th century landlords crumble, getting served as collective hay barns or farm equipment warehouses. Onion domed and towered churches of the 19th century, no longer rural village repair shops, wait to be restored or demolished. Russians at huge and locally in Kazan, are becoming challenged to look forward with hope and to look backwards with wisdom.

England’s Chaucer may possibly have just as accurately described Kazan and the upper Volga area when he wrote that April is the cruelist month. Note the patches of snow nevertheless on the ground in the background as seen in this mid-April photo.

BEYOND RAIFA MONASTERY’S WALLS: Kazan, at times called modern day Russia’s third capital, after Moscow and St. Petersburg, is a petro-chemical manufacturing center on the Volga River. It’s slightly larger than the city of Charlotte, NC, and is situated in a geographic area that is not unlike the upper Mid-West of the US or Canada, with brutal winters to match.

Kazan is positioned about 500 miles east and south of Moscow, or roughly the very same distance as a ten hour train ride. That would be comparable to a train amongst Washington and points south on 1 of America’s few remaining passenger rail lines.

Unlike in the US, the train accommodations might be greater with a private sleeper vehicle normally discovered in Russia riding along the more often utilised passenger rails than is the case in the US. Air travel, express highways and a monumental canal method connecting the Volga to the Baltic all offer you alternatives to trains, but using rails among cities in Europe, like this component, is so organic to the customers it’s almost like breathing. It needs very little believed. Just purchase a ticket and get on board.

Trains are also far more handy and much less high-priced than driving when the short summers finish in Kazan. Despite becoming south of each Moscow and St. Petersburg where the climate is somewhat moderated by the Baltic waters, Kazan nevertheless has harsher winters than the Russian capital. Nearly anywhere is warmer than Kazan in January, but its summers, at least most of the 90 days of it, offer a lush and mild paradise.

The city of Kazan is actually positioned at the point exactly where East meets West, on the border in between Asia and Europe. This is exactly where three excellent Western religions met much more than a thousand years ago. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all appear to coexist in relative peace within the city and the surrounding area, though that has not constantly been so.

Kazan is also the seat of one particular of Russia’s oldest scientific study universities. Kazan State University started there in the early 1800’s in the course of a single of modern day Russia’s first, frequent and all also brief periods of intellectual liberalism. It really is famous university also managed to survive the periods in among when it wasn’t so good to be a liberal intellectual in Russia. It would seem that in Russia these days, and specifically in Kazan, the pursuit of a broad primarily based education contains individual intellectual advancement. This is getting encouraged as a lot as it ever has been.

Russia is not the only Western nation that has been on each sides of these queries lately, like, &quotWhat is the value of liberal?&quot and &quotWhy educate the masses?&quot The answers may well be taken for granted by some, but also typically these who manage and direct contemporary societies may possibly have diverse views than what may well seem logical to other people. As Thomas Jefferson allegedly stated, an educated electorate is the very best defense for a flegling democracy. This warning would apply right now to the electorate in each Russia and the US. Educated entrepruners might just as very easily be the ideal foundation for a free of charge market.

Beyond the city of Kazan, the Tartarstan region is located in the relatively flat and gently rolling lands of the Volga valley as it flows south from the Ural Mountains toward the Caspian Sea. This is also at the edge of the great Eurasian Steppes. The Fantastic Plains of North America would be slightly smaller sized in size if compared to the huge grass and forest lands of this broad area. Like the Excellent Plains of the US and Canada, this wealthy and fertile land has attracted and supported the progress of numerous numbers of invading armies and migrating civilizations for thousands of years as they traveled from the east and the west.

Possibly due to the fact of its geography and for all these who passed through it on their way to someplace else, Kazan’s ethnic population these days represents a cross section of Russia as a entire. Kazan’s Russian majority is only barely so. This group may even be known as Kazan’s largest minority. This part of the city’s population still reflects distinct northern European origins in spite of Kazan’s location far removed from northern Europe. The legendary mark that Genghis Khan left behind, typically observed in the eyes of the region’s inhabitants, has tempered a much more familiar northern European appearance only slightly amongst those living in Kazan right now.

Even the name given to the modern state inside a state, Tartarstan, is only a nod to ancient history and its faded empires. This was carried out as politicians in Moscow loosened their grip on a relatively stable, and quite most likely loyal, element of modern day post-Soviet Russia. The troubles of the border regions of the former Soviet Union are to the south and west of Kazan. The clash of cultures in these places are a sobering reminder of the conflicts that can emerge when politics and economies turn out to be unsettled even following generations of peaceful coexistance.

Kazan’s historic function as a cultural crossroads among two continents from its beginnings produced this city’s rich cultural diversity attainable. For centuries, the trend toward migration into the region about Kazan incorporated several various ethnic groups. These folks typically relocated to the surrounding regions as entire communities. They traveled great distances to get there and brought with them unique abilities which had been in demand as Kazan grew in significance relative to the numerous empires that rose and fell about it.

Kazan was not actually situated on the historically significant Silk Road. It was currently a nicely traveled route extended prior to Marco Polo followed it from Italy to China. The worth of this road was to enable and even encourage direct trade among western Europe and eastern Asia long just before the rise of nation states. The inhabitants of the region around Kazan have been nevertheless beneficiaries of trade with those who made their way toward that important cultural hyperlink connecting the extremes of two increasing civilizations. To its customers in the tenth century AD, this trade route was far more valuable than the interstate highway program in the US or the chunnel connecting France and England would be to the West a lot more than a thousand years later. Each goods and cultures would be exchanged and left their mark on the cities along the way.

The greatest relocation of individuals into Kazan took location with the outbreak of the Second Globe War. Accomplishing a remarkable feat in the face of total destruction, in a couple of months the Soviet Union attempted to dismantle and resurrected its complete industrial base. The goal was to remove all the industrial assets situated in the western provinces closest to the rest of Europe and location them beyond the attain of the Axis invaders. It was a desperate move to stave off what appeared to be certain defeat. Few believed Russia could withstand the Nazi war machine, but it did. It paid a high price for its defense, but if Russia had failed, the expense to its folks would have been far higher.

Russia has had a legendary history of measured retreats major to victory against invaders. At the start of Globe War II, this approach was noticed as futile by some. To other people the technique was an antique from the Mongol Invasion and Napoleonic Wars. It was the only method left to defend Russia when Germany went back on its personal treaties with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union in the summer time of 1941.

Along with pieces of relocated factories, refugees and skilled industrial workers alike streamed in from the war ravaged west. They also moved toward the perception of security behind Russia’s line of defenses along and eastward of the Volga River. By comparison, it was as if the US had ceded its eastern seaboard and fallen back to its defenses west of the Mississippi. This close to collapse of the nation would be nearly unimaginable to an American today, but this is exactly what Russians did significantly less than 70 years ago.

Kazan was one of Russia’s eastern most European cities known for its strong Asian influences. The flood of Russia’s west into the city in 1941 and 1942 shifted the cultural balances as earlier migrations had accomplished but those took decades if not generations to be realized. Kazan was transformed in a matter of months from a provincial capital with historic hyperlinks to its previous as a cultural center and market place. It became as an alternative an industrial power residence. Russia, and Kazan along with it, would quite likely have fallen tough if the mighty Volga River defenses had been breached in 1943, but the lines held.

Another city, far to the south of Kazan, also on the Volga River, is the spot had been all Russia made its epic last stand against the invader. It was from within the ruins of Stalingrad that Russia ultimately turned the tide. That city is recognized these days as Volgograd, but the sacrifice its defenders produced in 1942 and 1943 will forever be remembered by its other name.

Kazan has its personal war memorials and monuments to the war machine it helped create in Russia’s defense. Even so, Kazan for the most element escaped exposure to direct military conflict and shows tiny or absolutely nothing of the onslaught that destroyed entire cities to the west. Kazan’s modern size and industrial significance nowadays are a direct outcome of Russia’s response to the invasion that started almost 70 years ago. The war that followed is nevertheless identified to all in Russia as the Great Patriotic War… which is to say, Великая Отечественная война, in the Cyrillic alphabet, or Velikaya Otechestvennaya Vojna, in the Latin alphabet. It was equivalent to the name long connected with Russia’s epic engagement and ultimate defeat of Napoleon’s Grande Armée in 1812, but that war’s significance like the burning of Moscow was eclipsed by the sacrifices produced by Russians in between 1941 and 1945.

The Second Planet War and this exceptional move to save Russia was a catalist that tansformed Kazan virtually overnight. By relocating most of the industries critical to sustaining its defense of the nation, putting them beyond the enemy’s attain, the counter offensive began. For a time Kazan’s strategic benefit also increased the value of the city to the Soviet state. With its higher consentration of military and related strategic industries, along with the scientists who made the military industrial complicated perform for the duration of and following WWII, Kazan was officially closed to non-Russians for nearly a generation. Like Star City, Kazan became a city shrouded in mystery. It wasn’t simple to find on maps, even in the west.

Till the current transformation of the Soviet Union into contemporary Russia, understanding of Kazan was largely discovered in the historic record prior to the city was closed. These days, you can Google a map of the city in detail and see satallite photos showing the white walled Kremlin or the city’s public beaches along the river in downtown Kazan.

Right now, Kazan appears to be quite much like a cosmopolitan European or big Midwestern American city. It is just not situated anywhere close to Western Europe or North America. Only the many, big and drab Soviet era apartment buildings that surround cities like Kazan, might cloud the image. To some outsiders these may resemble some of the worst public housing projects to be found in the West. These apartment blocks surely appear like the monotonous immigrant housing towers discovered in suburban Paris or Chicago’s infamous concrete ghetto identified as Cabrini Green. These dismal human warehouses of the west do resemble thousands of housing estates that surround most Russian cities, but to describe them as the very same would be a judgment made also speedily or 1 based only on superficial appearances.

In Kazan these 1950’s style housing blocks are where a majority of the city’s population lives, consequently tiny or no stigma is connected with this type of housing as may be the case in the West. They are worn and in poor repair, in some situations, but their residents are extended term. The residents of these housing blocks have compensated with by building social networks, neighborhoods and neighborhood institutions functioning to fill the gap of poor architecture and boring buildings.

More than time, this kind of housing is changing in Kazan, as numerous examples of Russia’s new privately held wealth are becoming much more clear. The new building of expensive single family members properties and upscale urban housing in and around downtown Kazan is testimony to one version of the coming alter. This new wealth and the resulting market place demands also threaten many older, more modest, but nonetheless historic buildings and neighborhoods. Some even date from the pre-revolutionary and czarist era. Several of these older buildings had defined the city for most of the final two centuries or far more. Older neighborhoods inside the city of Kazan and some nearby classic rural villages are beginning to give way to massive purchasing centers, box shops and quickly meals franchises all as well familiar to Americans.

This kind of change may give the impression Kazan city and its suburbs are becoming much more like some comparable sized cities and towns on the Mississippi, rather of the Volga. No need to have to worry for Kazan’s exclusive culture. So far Kazan is in no danger of assimilating, adapting and evolving into some thing else. Even with the city becoming a lot more major stream and open to other cultures and traditions, Kazan is still definitely not surrendering to any individual.

Neighborhood market place demands and improved buying power will eventually motivate and direct the individuals who live in Russian cities like Kazan. Education will also figure out if the subsequent generation thrives, or just survives. Fortunately, Kazan is a city known for placing a higher value on the education of its young people.

The similarities which may well be drawn in between Kazan and other cities of the West are not just about architecture, commerce or regional tourism as reflected in modern photographs. It is the folks who make a city function for their needs these days and hold their hopes for the future. The individuals living there could be the folks next door, to use an American cliché. The residents of Kazan on any given day reflect really much the exact same appearances and customs that are very familiar to most Westerners.

To see the men and women of modern day Kazan you may well just as properly be searching at an image of the people located in much of North America right now. This is not just a coincidence as there is a thread of history that connects several cities like this with others half a globe away. The irony is their migrating ancestors, like ours in America and for a lot of of the identical motives, very likely began their journeys heading in distinct directions even though setting out from specifically the same starting point. That may assist clarify element of why they look like the folks next door. Kazan’s access to M-Television, CNN and the Net, especially among its multi-lingual youth, could assist explain the rest.

Unique cultural differences still exist to set us apart, fortunately. These variations make each all the a lot more exciting to the other. Despite the differences in existing geography or recent politics, this exotic spot is nonetheless far more like us than not. The typical language of the modern day marketplace place has place Kazan and Kalamazoo virtually in the same neighborhood of this shrinking International Village. The desire to participate and compete inside the network of the world market place can be observed as intimidating, if not threatening, to the preservation of unique neighborhood cultures. When markets open it seems that every thing all of a sudden is judged and assessed in terms of international values of exchange. But this is only the most recent facet becoming added to a very old human story of social change and exchanges that never ever stops.

Culural differences never cease to exist when they are well founded and rooted in the fabric of the neighborhood. Nor are cultural ideals overhelmed by what may possibly be named an invasion of new fashions. Understanding the history of diverse places frequently helps clarify the logic and the worth for maintaining some differences, even in the face of alter or as cultures seem to blend. There is much more involved in a cultural exchange than just establishing reciprocal monetary values as if this were only to market more conspicuous consumption.

As it has often been, the newest generation living in Kazan and in other cities like it on continents far removed, are just now rediscovering what our ancient ancestors knew effectively. Every thing is connected and that is as it ought to be.

We would all probably be considerably better off if our national leaders and politicians acted as if they had been equally aware of this.

Image and text posted: May 2008
Revised: 17 January 2012
Copyrights reserved: Andre

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