Nice France Rail Pass photographs

A couple of nice France Rail Pass pictures I located:

Russia, near Kazan, Raifa Monastery
France Rail Pass
Image by hdes.copeland
Катя, Али и Вадик Katya, Ali and Vadik. These students attend one particular 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 used with permission. Original text entered: April 2008. Text revised: 1 April 2009.

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

This is the web site of a religious complex that is critical to the cultural history of the area. It is also popular among vacationers and regional residents of Kazan. The active monastery, as soon as again associated with the Russian Othodox Church under 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 consist of many historic towers, monumental gates, domed churchs, just like those seen within Kazan’s ancient Kremlin, or walled fortress. The Raifa Monastery, was reestablished following the fall of the Soviet government in the early 1990’s. From the 1930’s till just after the death of Stalin, the Raifa Monastery was used as 1 of the infamous gulags.

This story was not in contrast to the fate of religious orders in France after its Revolution. The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud in the Loire region of western France became a prison for almost 200 years before its designation as a Planet Heritage Web site and restoration began not long before Raifa Monastery initiated its return to a use as it was originally intended. As with Fontevraud, the use of Raifa as a prison could have deferred its comprehensive destruction.

In 1954, the gulag was closed and the Raifa Monastery was transformed into a juvenile and youth offenders prison, euphemistically referred to as a coaching college. In 1991 as the Soviet state itself started a transformation into the the Russian Federation. Regional civic and religious leaders petitioned for the return of the Raifa properties with assurances that the historic buildings and gounds would be better managed under the direction of a resurrected, albeit modern, version of the orginal religeous order. An agreement was at some point reached with regional authorities to enable the restoration, practically totally with private funds. It appears to have been a social and financial benefit to the instant community ever considering 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 having also embracing an updated mission appropriate to the requirements of the surrounding secular community in the 21st centrury.

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

Today the Raifa Monastery sponsors a major school and an orphanage in addition to the religious mission of this popular shrine. Tourists, historians, those seeking a retreat and religious pilgrims alike are drawn to this monastery with a revived and renovated mission.

Kazan’s Kremlin, with walls even more imposing that those at Raifa, is extremely significantly the cultural cradle of the region. In addtion to Kazan’s renowned scientific university, Kazan’s Kremlin contains landmarks adorned with exotic towers and domes connected with two quite various conventional religious shrines. One 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 several historic Russian cities, Kazan’s orignal Kremlin and other pre-Revolutionary buildings and institutions are becoming preserved for nearby use, not just as tourist attractions. Nearby religious shrines like the Raifa Monastery are enjoying a equivalent revival in well-known interest. Nonetheless numerous other equally fascinating historic buildings remain waiting in the surrounding regions for their advocates. Excellent houses of 18th century landlords crumble, possessing served as collective hay barns or farm gear warehouses. Onion domed and towered churches of the 19th century, no longer rural village repair shops, wait to be restored or demolished. Russians at big and locally in Kazan, are becoming challenged to look forward with hope and to look backwards with wisdom.

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

BEYOND RAIFA MONASTERY’S WALLS: Kazan, occasionally called modern day Russia’s third capital, right 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 as opposed to the upper Mid-West of the US or Canada, with brutal winters to match.

Kazan is situated about 500 miles east and south of Moscow, or roughly the identical distance as a ten hour train ride. That would be comparable to a train among Washington and points south on a single of America’s couple of remaining passenger rail lines.

Unlike in the US, the train accommodations might be far better with a private sleeper car usually found in Russia riding along the far more regularly employed passenger rails than is the case in the US. Air travel, express highways and a monumental canal system connecting the Volga to the Baltic all provide alternatives to trains, but utilizing rails amongst cities in Europe, which includes this component, is so natural to the users it really is practically like breathing. It calls for really tiny believed. Just get a ticket and get on board.

Trains are also much more hassle-free and significantly less pricey than driving when the brief summers end in Kazan. Despite being south of both Moscow and St. Petersburg where the climate is somewhat moderated by the Baltic waters, Kazan still has harsher winters than the Russian capital. Practically anyplace is warmer than Kazan in January, but its summers, at least most of the 90 days of it, offer you a lush and mild paradise.

The city of Kazan is actually positioned at the point where East meets West, on the border in between Asia and Europe. This is where three great Western religions met a lot more than a thousand years ago. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all seem to coexist in relative peace inside the city and the surrounding area, although that has not usually been so.

Kazan is also the seat of one particular of Russia’s oldest scientific analysis universities. Kazan State University started there in the early 1800’s in the course of one particular of contemporary Russia’s initial, 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 appear that in Russia nowadays, and especially in Kazan, the pursuit of a broad primarily based education involves individual intellectual advancement. This is being encouraged as considerably as it ever has been.

Russia is not the only Western nation that has been on each sides of these concerns lately, such as, &quotWhat is the worth of liberal?&quot and &quotWhy educate the masses?&quot The answers might be taken for granted by some, but too often those who manage and direct modern societies could have different views than what might appear logical to others. As Thomas Jefferson allegedly stated, an educated electorate is the very best defense for a flegling democracy. This warning would apply nowadays to the electorate in both Russia and the US. Educated entrepruners may well just as easily be the ideal foundation for a free of charge marketplace.

Beyond the city of Kazan, the Tartarstan region is positioned in the reasonably 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 wonderful Eurasian Steppes. The Fantastic Plains of North America would be slightly smaller sized in size if compared to the enormous grass and forest lands of this broad area. Like the Wonderful Plains of the US and Canada, this rich and fertile land has attracted and supported the progress of countless numbers of invading armies and migrating civilizations for thousands of years as they traveled from the east and the west.

Possibly since of its geography and for all these who passed by means of it on their way to someplace else, Kazan’s ethnic population today represents a cross section of Russia as a complete. Kazan’s Russian majority is only barely so. This group may well even be known as Kazan’s biggest minority. This portion of the city’s population nonetheless reflects distinct northern European origins regardless of Kazan’s place far removed from northern Europe. The legendary mark that Genghis Khan left behind, typically noticed in the eyes of the region’s inhabitants, has tempered a much more familiar northern European look only slightly among those living in Kazan these days.

Even the name offered to the contemporary state within a state, Tartarstan, is only a nod to ancient history and its faded empires. This was done as politicians in Moscow loosened their grip on a fairly steady, and really most likely loyal, element of contemporary 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 those locations are a sobering reminder of the conflicts that can emerge when politics and economies become unsettled even soon after generations of peaceful coexistance.

Kazan’s historic role as a cultural crossroads between two continents from its beginnings created this city’s wealthy cultural diversity possible. For centuries, the trend toward migration into the area about Kazan incorporated a lot of diverse ethnic groups. These men and women often relocated to the surrounding locations as complete communities. They traveled wonderful distances to get there and brought with them unique expertise which have been in demand as Kazan grew in value relative to the a variety of empires that rose and fell about it.

Kazan was not truly located on the historically substantial Silk Road. It was already a effectively traveled route lengthy before Marco Polo followed it from Italy to China. The value of this road was to enable and even encourage direct trade amongst western Europe and eastern Asia long ahead of the rise of nation states. The inhabitants of the area about Kazan have been nonetheless beneficiaries of trade with these who produced their way toward that critical cultural link connecting the extremes of two increasing civilizations. To its users in the tenth century AD, this trade route was far more useful than the interstate highway system in the US or the chunnel connecting France and England would be to the West far 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 spot with the outbreak of the Second Planet War. Accomplishing a outstanding feat in the face of total destruction, in a handful of months the Soviet Union attempted to dismantle and resurrected its entire industrial base. The objective was to eliminate all the industrial assets positioned in the western provinces closest to the rest of Europe and place them beyond the attain of the Axis invaders. It was a desperate move to stave off what appeared to be specific defeat. Couple of believed Russia could withstand the Nazi war machine, but it did. It paid a high cost for its defense, but if Russia had failed, the cost to its folks would have been far greater.

Russia has had a legendary history of measured retreats major to victory against invaders. At the start off of Globe War II, this technique was observed as futile by some. To others the technique was an antique from the Mongol Invasion and Napoleonic Wars. It was the only strategy left to defend Russia when Germany went back on its own treaties with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union in the summer season 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 safety 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 virtually unimaginable to an American right now, but this is precisely what Russians did less than 70 years ago.

Kazan was 1 of Russia’s eastern most European cities recognized for its powerful Asian influences. The flood of Russia’s west into the city in 1941 and 1942 shifted the cultural balances as prior migrations had completed but these took decades if not generations to be realized. Kazan was transformed in a matter of months from a provincial capital with historic links to its previous as a cultural center and market place location. It became instead an industrial power residence. Russia, and Kazan along with it, would very most likely have fallen tough if the mighty Volga River defenses had been breached in 1943, but the lines held.

An additional city, far to the south of Kazan, also on the Volga River, is the place had been all Russia created its epic final stand against the invader. It was from within the ruins of Stalingrad that Russia finally turned the tide. That city is recognized right now 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 develop in Russia’s defense. Even so, Kazan for the most element escaped exposure to direct military conflict and shows tiny or practically nothing of the onslaught that destroyed entire cities to the west. Kazan’s contemporary size and industrial importance these days are a direct outcome of Russia’s response to the invasion that started practically 70 years ago. The war that followed is still known to all in Russia as the Fantastic 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 lengthy linked with Russia’s epic engagement and ultimate defeat of Napoleon’s Grande Armée in 1812, but that war’s significance including the burning of Moscow was eclipsed by the sacrifices made by Russians among 1941 and 1945.

The Second Planet War and this exceptional move to save Russia was a catalist that tansformed Kazan practically overnight. By relocating most of the industries vital to sustaining its defense of the nation, placing them beyond the enemy’s reach, the counter offensive started. For a time Kazan’s strategic advantage also elevated the worth of the city to the Soviet state. With its higher consentration of military and related strategic industries, along with the scientists who created the military industrial complex function for the duration of and after WWII, Kazan was officially closed to non-Russians for practically a generation. Like Star City, Kazan became a city shrouded in mystery. It wasn’t simple to discover on maps, even in the west.

Till the current transformation of the Soviet Union into modern Russia, knowledge 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 photographs showing the white walled Kremlin or the city’s public beaches along the river in downtown Kazan.

Right now, Kazan appears to be very significantly like a cosmopolitan European or big Midwestern American city. It is just not situated anywhere close to Western Europe or North America. Only the a lot of, large and drab Soviet era apartment buildings that surround cities like Kazan, might cloud the image. To some outsiders these may well resemble some of the worst public housing projects to be found in the West. These apartment blocks undoubtedly look like the monotonous immigrant housing towers found in suburban Paris or Chicago’s infamous concrete ghetto recognized 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 exact same would be a judgment made also swiftly or 1 primarily based only on superficial appearances.

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

More than time, this kind of housing is altering in Kazan, as numerous examples of Russia’s new privately held wealth are becoming more apparent. The new construction of costly single family members properties and upscale urban housing in and around downtown Kazan is testimony to one version of the coming adjust. This new wealth and the resulting marketplace demands also threaten a lot of older, more modest, but nonetheless historic buildings and neighborhoods. Some even date from the pre-revolutionary and czarist era. Many of these older buildings had defined the city for most of the last two centuries or a lot more. Older neighborhoods inside the city of Kazan and some nearby conventional rural villages are starting to give way to big buying centers, box retailers and quickly meals franchises all as well familiar to Americans.

This sort of adjust might give the impression Kazan city and its suburbs are becoming more like some equivalent sized cities and towns on the Mississippi, instead of the Volga. No want to worry for Kazan’s special culture. So far Kazan is in no danger of assimilating, adapting and evolving into some thing else. Even with the city becoming far more main stream and open to other cultures and traditions, Kazan is nonetheless definitely not surrendering to anyone.

Local market demands and enhanced acquiring energy will in the end motivate and direct the folks who reside in Russian cities like Kazan. Education will also decide if the next generation thrives, or just survives. Thankfully, Kazan is a city known for putting a higher value on the education of its young men and women.

The similarities which may be drawn amongst Kazan and other cities of the West are not just about architecture, commerce or regional tourism as reflected in contemporary photographs. It is the men and women who make a city operate for their demands nowadays and hold their hopes for the future. The people living there could be the men and women subsequent door, to use an American cliché. The residents of Kazan on any provided day reflect quite considerably the exact same appearances and customs that are very familiar to most Westerners.

To see the individuals of modern Kazan you may just as properly be seeking at an image of the individuals discovered in a lot of North America these days. This is not just a coincidence as there is a thread of history that connects numerous cities like this with other people half a world away. The irony is their migrating ancestors, like ours in America and for numerous of the same reasons, really likely started their journeys heading in diverse directions even though setting out from exactly the identical beginning point. That may possibly assist clarify part of why they appear like the folks subsequent door. Kazan’s access to M-Television, CNN and the Web, specially among its multi-lingual youth, may assist explain the rest.

Unique cultural variations still exist to set us apart, thankfully. These variations make each and every all the a lot more exciting to the other. Despite the differences in existing geography or current politics, this exotic spot is still far more like us than not. The frequent language of the modern day industry location has put Kazan and Kalamazoo virtually in the identical neighborhood of this shrinking Global Village. The desire to participate and compete within the network of the world marketplace can be seen as intimidating, if not threatening, to the preservation of unique local cultures. When markets open it seems that every little thing suddenly is judged and assessed in terms of international values of exchange. But this is only the most recent facet becoming added to a extremely old human story of social alter and exchanges that never ever stops.

Culural variations do not cease to exist when they are nicely founded and rooted in the fabric of the community. Nor are cultural ideals overhelmed by what may be referred to as an invasion of new fashions. Understanding the history of distinct places typically helps explain the logic and the value for preserving some variations, even in the face of change or as cultures seem to blend. There is significantly more involved in a cultural exchange than just establishing reciprocal monetary values as if this were only to promote far more conspicuous consumption.

As it has constantly 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 well. Everything is connected and that is as it need to be.

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

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

544 – Narrow Street
France Rail Pass
Image by srv007
Yvonne (with the red backpack) and the kids stroll towards the rail station where we caught the turbo-train to Lyon.