Posted by: sargodale | July 30, 2009

Bolgar

This past weekend, we took a trip down the Volga to the old capital of the Volga Bulgaria, Bolgar. The city is extremely old, some of the buildings were actually constructed in the 8th century. Volga Bulgaria was a powerful entity in the Volga region, until the Mongols arrived and created the Kazan Khanate. From that point until Ivan the Terrible’s capture of Kazan, Bolgar (or Bulgar) remained an important religious site. Today, you can still some of the mosques and tombs that were used for religous services hundreds of years ago, except now these buildings are located right next to Orthodox Churches. The skyline of this city alone can tell an interesting story of how Kazan and the surrounding areas have changed under the influence of Russian rule. I’m hoping that later I can post some of the pictures I took during our trip to Bulgar. For now, here is just a general screenshot of the area:

Bulgar

The large spire in background is part of the original mosque, which most likely was constructed in the 800s. Right behind the spire, is a traditional Orthodox Church, which would have been built sometime after Ivan the Terrible captured Kazan as part of the Russian Empire. It’s interesting to see these two building side by side, considering how they both represent a dramatic shift in Tatar national identity over several centuries. More of my pictures from Bulgar also demonstrate an interesting narrative on the evolving Tatar identity.

Unfortunately, my time in Kazan is quickly winding down and soon I’ll be returning to the States. It’s been indescriable living in this city for the past two months, and my time here has been extremely helpful for my thesis research. I already have a lot of background information gathered, and am looking forward to returning to campus and actually getting my thesis started. This summer of prelimenary research has been a great help for the work that I will be conducting over the course of the academic school year!

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Thank you much for that well written blog post.

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