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Published: September 7th 2014
I got up in the morning without a clear idea where exactly to go. The previous evening, I read about several towns and fell asleep still unsure of what to do. However, after lying in the bed for about ten minutes I got up with the firm idea to visit Zaraisk. I decided to go there because it had a Kremlin and was nearer that other towns on my list. I would perhaps not know about this town, but very long ago I came across a Russian website with a list of one hundred best places.
The bus departed from Vykhino bus station where I had been previously, so I knew where to go to buy tickets. The bus came 10 minutes before departure and arrived in Zaraisk rather quickly, about half an hour before the scheduled time. This pleased me a lot, moreover, I was so happy that Zaraisk bus station was just in front of the Kremlin! No need to search long for sights.
The first written mention of Zaraisk refers to 1146. In 1521, Zaraisk together with Ryazan Principality was annexed to Moscow Principality. The town suffered many attacks by Crimean Tatars during the XVI century.
In the village of Dedinovo near Zaraisk the first Russian military ship, the Eagle, was launched in 1669. Crimean Tatars made their last assault in 1673, and since then the town had lost its defence significance.
The first interesting thing I saw was a church. I went there, many people sat along the street offering various local produce, such as vegetables, apples, mushrooms etc. It was a small fair, reminding me so much of my childhood days in my native town, Birsk. I remembered how we, on Sundays, used to go to the ‘bazaar’ (or ‘market’) to buy some things… It was always a grand event.
After that, I entered the Kremlin and inspected it thoroughly. The Kremlin was built in 1528-1531 and the town became an important point of defence at the southern approaches to Moscow. The Kremlin has orthogonal shape and is the smallest one in Russia. It is also said to be the best-preserved Kremlin, meaning that it has preserved most of its initial, genuine elements, while others were rebuilt in later years. It has seven towers, but the towers and walls surely need restoration in several places. There are two cathedrals inside the Kremlin:
Nikolsky (1681) and Ioanno-Predtechensky (1901-1904). Several children were playing at the small amusement area within the walls – there were seesaws and some other arrangements. I made a full round of the Kremlin and then explored the vicinities.
I also saw a monument to Dmitry Pozharsky (Russian military leader and political person who scored victory over Polish invaders) and two monuments to soldiers perished during the Great Patriotic War (I do prefer this name rather than World War II). The town has mostly two-storey buildings made either of brick or wood, and many look dilapidated. I saw a Lenin statue and a nice blue church looking so in harmony with the blue skies and white clouds overhead. I also saw hens feeding by the road (a sight you’ll never see in a large city).
I then entered the bus station to buy the return ticket (I had better do it in advance because there were no tickets for the 13.50 bus, only for the 14.30, so I would lose 40 minutes). I wanted to have a meal and tried to find a café. I found one, but the people there seemed to take care only of themselves, and
I even could not ask the woman at the bar because she was too busily talking to a man). I went away thinking about their stupidity, so easily losing a client. Surprisingly, there were no supermarkets in the area and seemed to be no food stores. I found a sushi bar but the girl there said I'd have to wait an hour because we have too many orders. Lucky for me, I again saved my money. I ended up buying an unsavoury ‘hot dog’ at the bus station. While waiting, I read the Durrell book and would like to recommend reading it to all travelers.
The drive back was less successful due to several traffic jams. Nevertheless, I was satisfied.
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