Friday, November 11, 2016
Mohammedan Muslim Cemetery
Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia, 450076
I've been wanting to go to this cemetery for months, but it wasn't until last month that I finally did. Cemeteries aren't common in cities in Russia. They are usually on the outskirts, in my opinion, because Russians are extremely superstitious. So, it was surprising to find one right in the center. This is also a Muslim cemetery, which peaked my interest even more because I'm not very educated on the Islamic religion deeper than the basic definition of it. Elizabeth and I made about two or three unsuccessful attempts to visit the cemetery, but eventually everything worked out, minus the fact that it was one of the snowiest days we've had so far.
I followed a map to the cemetery, and since we walked there, I ended up taking us along the far end of the cemetery. We noticed a small gate and went inside. In these first several photos you will notice how crowded and unkept everything is. There was no clear path, made worse by the fact that everything was covered in an inch of snow, so it was hard to move and go deeper into the cemetery. We walked around for about 10 minutes, then decided to go out and see if we could find a better entrance. I knew there had to be another entrance because there were areas you couldn't get to.
Магометанское (Mohammedan) Cemetery is one of the oldest and most famous cemeteries in Ufa. There are famous people buried here, but, unfortunately, I couldn't tell you who they are. The cemetery is also home to rare species of plants. However, through the years, more and more of these plants have disappeared. The main part of the cemetery is well maintained, and, in 2013, lights and a paved path were added.
Muslim funerals are different from the typical Christian funerals I am used to. I'm not going to go into detail about the funeral process. If you are interested, you can Google it. My friend vouched for Wikipedia and said the page is accurate. In regards to the cemeteries and burials, the practices vary by region. In a typical Muslim burial, the grave is aligned perpendicular to Mecca, the body is placed without a casket on his right side also facing Mecca, and grave markers are no more than 12 inches high because grand displays are frowned upon in Islam. This is changing, and it's becoming more common for family's to construct monuments to the deceased. The fences around the tombs are only for safety, there is nothing religious about them. I tried to find more information about the style of these headstones, but I couldn't find anything. If you have any information please let me know!
As we were walking through the main part of the cemetery I looked over and saw the abandoned observatory (pictured below). It was actually when Anton and I went to that observatory that I first saw this cemetery. I wanted to wait until the snow melted to go back, but, as luck would have it, it snowed the day I went. I will always be a strong believer in exploring a city on foot. I never did it much back in the USA because it's almost impossible to do so in the suburbs. Looking back, though, I can recall several really interesting houses that I never would have seen driving in my car.
My favorite spot in the cemetery was the edge that overlooked that White River. I mean, can you imagine being buried here? It was so beautiful. Elizabeth and I even found gate that we walked out of to get a better view of the river and countryside. It was scary, though, walking to the edge, so I made sure I didn't get too close since it was snowing and I didn't want to accidentally slip. I'm not sure if there was a straight drop or not, but maybe I'll go back in the spring to look.
As we were leaving a very old man came up to use and started talking. I still don't know Russian that well, and Elizabeth had a hard time understanding him. We still acted like we knew and he handed us candy, which I still have yet to eat because I'm kind of nervous. We told him, "spasiba," and went on our way to warm up with some hot chocolate.
If you are interested in visiting the cemetery it's not far from the Salavat Yulaev monument or the telecenter bus stop.
What do you think about this cemetery? Was it worth the visit in the snow?