Denis Chernyshenko - A Sputnik correspondent has visited the town of Kasimov, which lies only about 180 miles southeast of Moscow and is famous for unique monuments of muslim architecture, along with beautiful orthodox churches
MOSCOW/KASIMOV (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd September, 2020) Denis Chernyshenko - A Sputnik correspondent has visited the town of Kasimov, which lies only about 180 miles southeast of Moscow and is famous for unique monuments of muslim architecture, along with beautiful orthodox churches.
It is not a secret that Russia is a country of many religions, but one usually thinks about the Caucasus, Crimea, the Republic of Tatarstan or the Republic of Bashkortostan when speaking about Muslims in Russia. In reality, islam is much more widespread in Russia and one can just enter the Ryazan region, which borders the Moscow region, to find a town that was a capital of an ancient Muslim state until the 17th century.
To reach Kasimov, it is necessary to take the R105 roadway also known as Yegoryevsk Roadway which is little-known even among Moscow drivers. At the same time, this is one of the most picturesque roadways coming from Moscow, as it goes through the Meshchyorsky National Park, known for primeval forests and pure lakes.
The first interesting place to visit on the way to Kasimov is the settlement of Gzhel not far from Moscow, which is one of the most famous ceramics centers in Russia. White and blue dishes produced here can be found in almost all Russian houses.Along with ceramics, Gzhel also gave a name to an age of the Carboniferous geologic period in line with the International Commission on Stratigraphy's geologic timescale. Another age of the Carboniferous period is named after Kasimov.
About 90 miles from Gzhel, in the heart of the Meshchyorsky National Park, one can admire the beauty of the Klepiki lakes, which are a popular resort area.The system of lakes is named after the nearby town of Spas-Klepiki, where great Russian poet Sergei Yesenin studied at a secondary parochial school, turned later into a museum.
Maybe one of the most impressive sights en route from Moscow to Kasimov is located at the settlement of Gus-Zhelezny. This is the huge Orthodox Trinity Cathedral built in the 19th century in a rare for Russia Gothic Revival style. The church was constructed by an unknown architect by order of the Batashevs, a family of famous industrialists and philanthropists.
Kasimov, which lies on the shore of the Oka River, was founded in 1152 by Vladimir-Suzdal ruler Yuri Dolgorukiy, who also founded Moscow. The original name of the town was Gorodets Meshchyorsky, as it is located in the lands of the Finnic tribe called the Meshchyora.
Like many other Russian towns and cities, Gorodets Meshchyorsky was destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Golden Horde in the 15th century, Gorodets Meshchyorsky found itself in the eastern part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which was vulnerable to invasions of a new neighbor: the Kazan Khanate.
Ambitious Kazan ruler Olug Moxammad invaded the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1444 and a year later, inflicted a devastating defeat to the rival in the Battle of Suzdal, taking Grand Duke Vasily II The Blind as a prisoner.
The following peace treaty between Kazan and Moscow resulted in the formation of the Qasim Khanate with its capital in Kasimov. Qasim Khan became the first ruler of the new state and gave a name both to the country and its capital.
In 1552, the Qasim Khanate helped first Russian Tsar Ivan IV The Terrible to take Kazan and annex its territories, and its leader, Shah Ali, gained Kazan ruler Soyembika as a wife. In 1575, Ivan IV The Terrible abdicated the Russian throne in favor of Sain-Bulat of Kasimov � also known as Simeon Bekbulatovich who became a formal head of Russia for about a year until Ivan's reinstatement.
The Qasim Khanate was gradually integrated into Russia for some two centuries and finally became a full-fledged part of the country in 1681.
The conquest of the Kazan Khanate and rebellions in the captured territories that followed urged Ivan IV The Terrible to fight the Muslim culture and destroy all mosques in the new territories. Unlike Kazan, Kasimov was always loyal to Moscow, and that allowed its rulers to build religious buildings, which have survived until today.
Khan's Mosque is the main sight of Kasimov, being the only remaining mosque in the central part of Russia built before Empress Catherine II The Great allowed the Muslims to build religious buildings.Khan's Mosque is thought to have been constructed during the rule of Shah Ali and was partially destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century at the order of future Emperor Peter I The Great. The minaret, however, was not damaged, and the main building was soon reconstructed.
Shah Ali is buried near the mosque in a mausoleum, which is another major attraction of the town. On the outskirts of Kasimov, one can find another mausoleum where Afgan Moxammad Khan is buried. Along with ancient Muslim sights, Kasimov also has a new mosque and a Tatar cultural center.
After the town became a part of Russia, many Orthodox churches were built here, including the Cathedral of the Ascension and the Church of the Annunciation, which along with the merchants' row are shaping the view of the Cathedral Square, the main square of the town.
Like samovar is one of the most recognizable symbols of Russian culture, Kasimov with its mixture of different religions, ethnic groups and architectural styles symbolizes the diversity of Russia and its difficult history.