Kazan guides’ myths that drive them mad too
Eight popular myths dishonest guides offer tourists — from the tsarina to the red lady
A ten-day holiday, the coming of warm weather and Tatar colour — the next influx of tourists is expected in Kazan. This means that Kazan guides will be busy. Before this, we asked them a simple question — what inaccuracies they have heard from their colleagues irritate them the most.
Catherine the Great and Tatars
Let’s omit odd opuses about the monument to Judah, Syuyumbike’s jump from the namesake tower and the crazy fantasy about Batu (after he founded Kazan, of course) who rested in the place of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Next to the Marjani Mosque, one can often hear a story about the empress who came to Kazan and was amazed at the Tatars’ hospitality. They in reply asked her for permission to build mosques (according to some versions, they were prohibited in general). This is how the Marjani and Apanayev Mosques appeared.
There was a mosque in the Old Tatar Settlement particularly by Catherine’s arrival — it was the only wooden mosque built in the middle of the 1740s. Authorities didn’t permit building central and local mosques. However, the activity of the Christian mission that christened non-Russian peoples of the Volga region had been wound up three years before the empress visited Kazan. What happened in May 1767 is a beautiful design of the end of the tragic stage in the Tatar nation’s life. While the order On Tolerance to All Religions and Prohibition of Archbishops from Dealing with Affairs of Other Religions appeared in 1773, which limited the Synod in dealing with other religion’s affairs. Moreover, Catherine II offered aristocracy to newly christened noble Tatars who stem from Genghis Khan or even Prophet Mohammad’s descendants.
Qadimists and Jadids
It is two concepts of the 19th-20th centuries. Qadimists are Tatars, Muslims, conservatives, zealots of the patriarchate. Jadids are Tatars, Muslims, reformers. As guides say, they were enemies, absolute counterparts, orthodoxy against progress.
In fact, it wasn’t so radical. Yes, Qadimists were against reforms in Islam and in favour of the conservation of traditions, while Jadids put modernisation of the nation in general in the first place. Qadimists focused on the Umma, Jadids did on generous benefactors. Indeed, the first group was opposed to novelties in education, the second group introduced a number of subjects (as well as tables with mattresses).
At the same time, people like Galimzhan Barudi — Jadids who could at the same time not approve some novelties of their colleagues — were chosen as muftis and judges at religious meetings where the two movements clashed. Let alone the election of Mukhlisa Bubi, a woman, as a judge.
“Russia’s second admiralty”
The Kazan Admiralty would-be Emperor Peter I opened in 1718 is named by guides second in the country after Saint Petersburg. Rubbish, moreover, both regarding Kazan and Saint Petersburg.
The Petersburg Admiralty was third, the Kazan one was fourth. The admiralties in Arkhangelsk (1963) and Voronezh (1964) were first.
Cats and Catherine the Great
It turns out that Catherine the Great not only permitted building mosques in Kazan but also found 30 pairs of cats that were to catch mice and rats in the tsarina’s courtyard.
This is partly true, but the tsarina was different. It is Elizabeth Petrovna who signed a decree in 1745: “To find local castrated the best and biggest 30 cats in Kazan that would be suitable to catch mice and send them to Petersburg. If somebody has such cats, bring them to avoid a fine.”
By the way, one can find an inscription on Bauman Street that she did it in Kazan, it is a shameless fake. Elizabeth never visited our city. She participated in the fate of Kazan cats (or their descendants) much later when a part of the cats turned out in the Hermitage on her instructions — to protect the rare objects from omnipresent mice.
Kazan underground passages are the talk of the town among guides who like mysticism and mystery. “The passages connect the whole city. Many have been there.”
The most “advanced” guides think that the mouldy basement under Bauman Street is more than a hundred years old, moreover, it goes along Profsoyuznaya Street towards the Kremlin itself.
Perhaps, it is an echo of the story about trenches Ivan the Terrible dug when conquering Kazan. Perhaps, stories about protectors of Kazan obtained water from the Kazanka River through underground passages when the city was attacked influenced the excited minds of guides. According to the bravest legend, one of the trenches connects the monument to dead soldiers on the other side of the Kazanka with the Kremlin.
In fact, the trenches were made from Bulak and the same Bauman Street.
It can be heard on Bauman Street that this high bell tower wasn’t sanctified. Guides think so because it has the Star of David in its ornament outdoors.
Not all guides know that the frescoes of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral also has these stars, for instance. It is a popular Biblical symbol, so it is not a sin to appear in Christian design. And how could the church named after the Third Finding of the Head of Saint John the Forerunner appear in a bell tower that wasn’t sanctified?
Last names, names...
It is easy to let it slip in a group of tourists, while colleagues will remember.
This is why we don’t say Karl Ivanovich, but Karl Fyodorovich Fuks, a German, professor, Tatars’ big friend.
Not the house of Gavriil Chekmaryov but the house of poet Gavriil Kamenev (the Chekmaryovs, of course, were his relatives, but not too close).
Now it will get tougher. Be careful. Not the Apanayev Garden but Panayev Garden. Not killed priest Fyodor Gestapov but Gidaspov. Not the Holy Gates but the Tsarist Gates.
Can we do without fake horror stories?
For instance, the Veniaminovs family used to live between the passages of the Alexandrovs and Chernoyarovs. The Veniaminovs didn’t want to sell the house to unite the passages. Legend has it that the house burnt together with the family. Then constructors died in the fire. And they saw a woman in red before death. Then Chernoyarov’s son died in the fire. And the malicious woman in red walked along today’s Kremlyovskaya Street by frightening passers-by with its ghost-like appearance. In a word, creepy.
This legend is alive, amazingly sold to trustful tourists. However, the passages can’t recover yet...