We left St. Petersburg on the fifth day of the trip and, yes, we wish we had spent a lot more time there. But as the idea of this trip was to get to know Russia in a more complete way, we left for our second destination in the country: to present.
Our first stop, as always, was the hotel. This time, we stayed in DoubleTree by Hilton, but unfortunately we couldn’t get a room with a view – the city was packed because of a long holiday we took.
Still, the room was super comfortable, spacious, with an office, a nice bed and even an iron and ironing board – one of the things we value a lot on long trips with many stops!
After a good night’s sleep we stopped at one of the most visited tourist spots in Kazan, the Temple of All Religions. In addition to the striking architecture filled with multicolored domes, this complex has an incredible history behind it. The creator of the project, the local artist and philanthropist Ildas Khanov, built the site in the hope of ending religious conflicts. The idea was to build a Temple that represented the 16 most practiced religions in the world, but with Khanov’s death in 2013, the project is not yet completed and today it has religious constructions of 5 religions, such as a synagogue, a mosque, an orthodox church and a Buddhist temple.
The place functions as a cultural center and there are no masses, services or any other type of religious celebration. It is worth mentioning that Kazan is one of Russia’s multicultural cities and where Muslims and Christians live together peacefully. The project is incredible and worth knowing!
30 minutes from Kazan, is the Raifa Monastery. The site was built in the 17th century as a monastery, but was closed to the faithful in the 20th century when the place functioned as a prison. In fact, at the time of the USSR, when religion was not allowed, many churches and temples were turned into prison and others were demolished.
Only in 1991 was the site renovated and reopened to the public. The golden domes are still very impressive!
Our lunch was in a typical Tartar restaurant and, in addition to the delicious caramelized potatoes, the cream of mushrooms with smetana was wonderful. Paulo, as always, innovated the order and it was horse meat that, according to him, resembles pot meat.
The coolest part of our lunch, obviously, was when I went into the kitchen and learned how to make Echpochmak – a pasta with smetana stuffed with meat, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper – Tchak Tchak – a wonderful sweet with honey
The day continued with an exciting story! We found with first ballet dancer from Kazan Ballet, the Brazilian Amanda Gomes, no Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater. Her trajectory is surreal! She has been in this ballet for 4 years (since she was 18) when she was invited to be the first soloist. In September last year she was called to be the first dancer and you will need to see the video below to get a sense of her delicacy and precision on stage!
To end the day, we spent close to the Kremlin of the city that is the only one in Russia that has a mosque and an orthodox church inside. The place is too beautiful and of course you can see all the details of this intense day on the vlog below 😉