Explore Glorious Kazan in Russia

The city of Kazan, lying at the confluence of the Kazanka and Volga Rivers, is one of Russia’s largest cities and the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in central European Russia. Kazan is a major commercial, cultural and industrial hub, as well as being at the heart of Tatar culture.

Kazan in Russia is thought to have been founded in 1401, although there is an ongoing dispute as to when it was founded and also as to who should be credited with being the founders. One school of thought is that Kazan was founded by the Volga Bulgars in the early Middle Ages, while others claim that evidence points to the Tatars of the Golden Horde establishing the initial settlement in the mid-fifteenth century. Either way, records indicate that in 1438 Kazan became the capital of a powerful Tatar rulers and was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. During a turbulent period of the city’s history, various parts of the city were destroyed and rebuilt, however many ancient buildings have been preserved. At this stage numerous Tatar residents were killed, repressed or Christianized.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Alexander I founded the Kazan State University and printing press. The Qur’an was printed in Kazan in 1801 and the city became an important location for Oriental Studies in Russia. During the reign of Catherine the Great, there was a rebirth of religious tolerance and mosques were allowed to be built in the city once more. However, there was still a lot of discrimination against the Tatar people which persisted through the years as the city grew ever more. As the 19th century was drawing to a close, Kazan had undergone a great deal of industrial development and was the industrial center of the Middle Volga, drawing people from the neighboring villages in search of work. After the 1905 Russian Revolution, Tatars established Kazan as their cultural center, with the first Tatar theater being opened and the first printing of a Tatar newspaper. During World War II many industries were evacuated to Kazan, resulting in the city becoming a center of the military industry, being responsible for producing airplanes and tanks and further boosting its image as an industrial centre.

Despite disputes as to when the city was originally founded, Kazan celebrated its millennium in 2005, at which time the holiest copy of “Our Lady of Kazan” was returned to the city, and the largest mosque in Russia, Qolsharif, was inaugurated. The city has a uniquely beautiful citadel which was given the status of being a World Heritage Site in 2000. The leaning Soyembika Tower, constructed in six tiers, is regarded as being one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Other landmarks and places of interest in Kazan include the five-domed Annunciation Cathedral, the remains of the Savior Monastery, as well as Sts Peter and Paul’s Cathedral dating back to the 18th century. The citadel in Kazan was declared a World Heritage Site in the year 2000.

Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Lenin and Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky have all been students at the Kazan State University which was founded in 1804 and is still very active today. The Kazan State Technical University is one of the leaders in the development of aircraft and rocket technology as well as computer science and radio engineering.

Visitors to the multi-faceted city of Kazan in Russia are sure to find the city, surroundings and people to be fascinating and certainly well worth spending time to become acquainted with.


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