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Ancient Bulgaria on the Volga shores
August 16, 2010 15:36


In Volga steppes in 140 kilometres from the city of Kazan lies Bulgar fortress-cite, the rests of ancient capital of Bulgaria, which was spreaded out from the White Sea to the Caspian Sea and was famous for its wealth and prosperity, full of beautiful houses, libraries, markets, baths and minarets. Yes, contemporary Bulgaria is a state on Balkan peninsula, where a Slavonic language is spoken, and religion mainly professed is Orthodox Christianity. But there was a country of Volga Bulgaria, existed in 9th - 13th centuries in Volga Region and Kama basin, maybe it did not spread from Caspian Sea to White, but it was large enough and its foreign policy was very active. The contemporary Bulgaria ascends from this medieval state, although the culture, including language, religion and ethnic composition have been changed very much. Initially the Bulgars were a Turkic people with traditional pagan religion, but in the 10th century the Volga Bulgaria took Muslim Faith. The Bulgars moved on Balkan peninsula, took Christianity. Contemporary descendants of those medieval Bulgars and of their language are Kazan Tatars and Chuvashes. The city of Bulgar existed after 1240, when Bulgaria has become a part of the Golden Hord, but the state did not revive. Now we can see some rests of that city, which has living standards, unbelievably high for Middle Ages. The Russian written sources called it "place just under paradise".

 

According to the medieval sources, Bugar was world-famous for its prosperity. There were 147 minarets. Chagan's palace, public baths, libraries in the city, where about 40, 000 people lived. Houses in Bulgar had 5 storeys provided with water supply and sewage with ceramic pipes and heating, of course. The winters in that region are hard. One of the baths has been saved, it is called "White chamber", and you can observe the rests of heating system for the walls and floor. Trade relations tied Bulgar with Ancient Russia, Baltics, Scandinavia, Byzantine Empire, Dalmatia, Khoresm, Iran, China and India. A caravan came there from Bagdad has brought rich gifts Islam into Volga steppes. It was decisive for the people's fate, Bulgars and their descendant Tatars. The Bulgar inscriptions saved on the tombs are written with Arabic lettres. It was a moment, when the Russian rulers were choosing religion, and Islam was demonstrated to them in Bulgar. By the way, the name of Tatars is tied with that fact that vassal rulers of Mongol Empire, including the Russian princes came here, to Bulgar to take yarlyck, document confirming the vassal's right to rule in his land, given by the Mongol Khan. The foreigners used to call all the residents of these land Tatars, because the city looked and lived too well for conquered people, so the name of the contemporary people is a result of transfer.

 

The fortress-cite of Bulgar has withstood the ravages of time. The chambers, baths, mausoleums and minaretes can be observed in and out. You can climb the viewing points of mosques and enjoy panorama of Volga river. You will hear marvelous stories and legends of ancient city. One of the most beautiful legend is about princess, who did not burn in the fire. The princess was a daughter of the last Bulgar Chagan Abdullakh. When Tamerlane has captured the city, Abdullakh' s family sheltered in the Court Chamber. Invaders laid logs around the building and started a fire. The girl lived out. She went out fire saved and unharmed. According to a legend, then the girl's beauty gained Timur-i-leng's heart forever.


Yulia Buzykina
htfi.org
www.russianow.ru


Tags: Russian tourism Bulgar Volga River Republic of Tatarstan  

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