Influenced by Russian tradition and eastern colors, Kazan’s architecture is a wonderful mix. Old church spires, belfry towers and minarets sit high above the skyline of modern buildings, alongside the white-stone walls of the Kremlin.
The city lies just north of the Samara Reservoir on the Volga River, where it is joined by the Kazanka River. The city stretches for about 15 miles (25 km) along hills, which are much dissected by ravines. Ancient Kazan (Iske Kazan) was founded in the late 13th century by the Mongols (Tatars) of the Golden Horde after their overthrow of the Bulgar kingdom on the middle Volga. After the disintegration of the Golden Horde in the 15th century, Kazan became the capital of an independent khanate.
In 1469, Ivan III captured Kazan, but his puppet khan organized a massacre of all Russians in the town in 1504. Finally, in 1552 Ivan IV the Terrible captured Kazan after a long siege and subjugated the khanate. The old Tatar fortress was rebuilt as a Russian kremlin, the white walls and towers of which survive as a feature of the modern skyline.
Such sites as the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Mardzhani Mosque and the Azimov Mosque are unique, and not to be missed, The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul dates from the 18th century.
As Siberia was opened up, Kazan’s trading importance greatly increased, and industry developed in the 18th century; by 1900 it was one of the chief manufacturing cities of Russia.
Kazan is a major cultural and educational center. Kazan State University was founded in 1804. The mathematician N.I. Lobachevsky was its rector in 1827–46, and among those who studied, there were Leo Tolstoy, the composer M.A. Balakirev, and Vladimir I. Lenin.
During our bus city tour, you will see many of these sites, and then continue with a walking tour around the Kremlin.