March 01, 2003

Tatarstan: Travel in Multicultural Russia

Of all the images only Russia can create, there is one I will never forget: the four minarets of the new Kul Sharif mosque springing up alongside the onion domes of the Cathedral of Annunciation in the Kazan Kremlin, the historical heart of Tatarstan.

Perhaps the image seemed particularly stunning because it was barely 6 am. We had just gotten off the train that took us from Moscow to Kazan, a 800-km trip, when my photographer and I found ourselves standing in front of the Kazan Kremlin. In that early foggy morning, the capital of Tatarstan, located at the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers, looked like a fairy tale setting for both the Nutcracker and Aladdin.

The white walls of the Kazan Kremlin, the golden domes of the Cathedral, and the crescent moon of the mosque all shone in the morning sun. An air of quietness, unthinkable in hectic Moscow, covered the city like a warm blanket.

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