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For the Japanese emperor, see Emperor Kazan.

Kazan (Tatar Qazan, Казан, Russian Казань) is the capital city of Tatarstan and one of Russia's largest cities. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of Tatar culture. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga (İdel) and Kazanka (Qazansu) rivers in central European Russia.

Official flag of Kazan
Kazan's symbol is Zilant
Official coat of arms of Kazan
Languages Tatar, Russian
Mayor Kamil Ísxaqov
Coordinates 55°47′ N 49°10′ E
Area 425.2 km²
Population 1,154,000
Founded by Volga Bulgarians
~ 1005
Time zone UTC +3
City Day 30 August
Calling Code 7 8432
Religion Sunni Islam,
Russian Orthodox Church,



The origin of the name is unclear. The literal translation of Tatar qazan is a boiler or cauldron. Alternately, it may have been derived from qazğan, Tatar for dug [ditch].

"Qazan" is originally a name for a special cooking pan, a variant of a wok, but more solid and heavier. It is believed among Tatars that the city of Kazan is named after this object because of its geographical similarity with a "qazan"-pan; namely the city is situated in a U - shape lowland.

Another, a more romantic legend tells a story of a Tatar princess Söyembikä, who dropped a golden dish (golden qazan) in to the river on which the city is located while washing it.


It is disputed when Kazan was founded by the Volga Bulgars, as written records for that period are sparse. Estimates range from the early 11th century to the late 13th century (see Iske Qazan). It was a block-post on the border between Volga Bulgaria and Finnish tribes (Mari, Udmurt). Another question was where the citadel was built originally. The archeologic explorations gave rests of the urban settlement in 3 parts of the modern city: in the Kremlin, in Bişbalta in the place of modern Zilantaw monastery and near the Qaban lake. The oldest was the Kremlin which could be dated back to 11th century.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Kazan could have shielded a Volga tradeway from Scandinavia to Iran. It was a trade center, the main city for Bulgar settlers in the Kazan region.

In the 13th century, re-settlers came to Kazan from Bolğar and Bilär, which had been ruined by the Mongols. Kazan became a center of a duchy, which was a dependency of the Golden Horde.

After the destruction of the Golden Horde, Kazan became the capital of the powerful Khanate of Kazan (1438). The city bazaar Taş Ayaq (Stone Leg) became the most important trade center in the region, especially for furniture. The citadel and Bolaq channel were reconstructed, giving the city a strong defensive capacity. Russians managed to occupy the city briefly, in 1487 but they withdrew.

In 1552, the city was forcibly annexed by Russia under Ivan the Terrible. During the governorship of Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky, most of the city's Tatar residents were killed, repressed, or forcibly Christianized. Mosques and palaces were ruined. The suvival Tatar population was moved to a place 50 km away from the city and this place was forcibly settled by Russian farmers and soldiers. Serving to Russia Tatars was settled in the Tatar Bistäse settlement near the city's wall. Later Tatar merchants and handycraft masters also settled there.

Kazan was lagerly destroyed as a result of grand fires. After one of them in 1579, the icon Our Lady of Kazan was discovered in the city.

During the Time of Troubles in Russia the independence of Kazan Khanate was restored with the help of Russian population, but independence was supressed by Kuzma Minin in 1612. The history of that period is unclear.

In 1708, the Khanate of Kazan was abolished, and Kazan became the center of a guberniya. After Peter the Great's visit, the city became a shipbuilding base for the Caspian fleet.

It was largely destroyed in 1774 as a result of a revolt by border troops and peasants led by the Don Cossack ataman (captain) Yemelyan Pugachev, but was rebuilt soon afterwards, during the reign of Catherine the Great. Catherine also decreed that mosques could again be built in Kazan. But discrimination against the Tatars continued.

In the begining of 19th century Kazan State University and typography appeared. The Qur'an was firstly printed in Kazan in 1801.

By the end of the 19th century, Kazan had become an industrial center of Middle Volga. People from neighboring villages came to the city looking for work. In 1875, a horse railway appeared; 1899 saw the installation of a tramway.

After the Russian Revolution in 1905, Tatars were allowed to revive Kazan as a Tatar cultural center. The first Tatar theater and the first Tatar newspaper appeared.

In 1918, Kazan was a capital of the Idel-Ural State, which was suppressed by the Bolshevist government. Kazan was also the center of an anti-Bolshevik Bolaq artee Republic.

In 1919 (after the October Revolution), Kazan became the center of Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In the 1920s and 1930s, most of the city's mosques and churches were destroyed (as occurred elsewhere in the USSR).

During World War II, many industrial plants and factories were evacuated to Kazan, and the city subsequently became a center of the military industry, producing tanks and planes.

In the 1990s, after the dissolution of the USSR, Kazan again became the center of Tatar culture, and separatist tendencies intensified.

Since 2000, the city has been undergoing a total renovation. A single-line metro, the north-southeast running Central Line, opened on 27 August 2005. The Kazan Metro has five stations. But there are plans to extend the line in both directions, bringing the total number of stations on it to 11, according to Website UrbanRail.Net; Five stations will cross the Kazanka River and extend further north, while one station will complete the line's southeast end.

Kazan celebrated its millennium in 2005, when the largest mosque in Russia was inaugurated in the kremlin, and the holiest copy of Our Lady of Kazan was returned to the city. The date of "millennium", however, was fixed rather arbitrarily.

Historical population

Söyembikä Tower was built in the Kazan Kremlin at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Söyembikä Tower was built in the Kazan Kremlin at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • 1550 – 50,000
  • 1708 – 40,000
  • 1830 – 43,900
  • 1839 – 51,600
  • 1859 – 60,600
  • 1862 – 63,100
  • 1883 – 140,000
  • 1897 – 130,000
  • 1917 – 206,600
  • 1926 – 179,000
  • 1939 – 398,000
  • 1959 – 667,000
  • 1979 – 989,000
  • 1989 – 1,094,400
  • 1997 – 1,076,000
  • 2000 – 1,089,500
  • 2002 – 1,153,000

Historical naming

Probably, that "Qazan" as informal name also was used during 1278-1430.

See also: Iske Qazan

  • Tatar (now, 19281939): Qazan;
  • (19392000): Казан;
  • (19181928): قازان ;
  • (19221918), Arab: قزان ;
  • Russian: Каза́нь [Kazań];
  • Arab (hist.): Bulgar al-Jadid (in Tatar transliteration:Bolğar âl-Cädid) - New Bolğar;
  • German: Kasan, Latin: Casan, French: Kazan

Central Kazan


The main article is Kazan Kremlin

Märcani Mosque
Märcani Mosque
Soltan Mosque, Tuqay Street
Soltan Mosque, Tuqay Street

The city has a beautiful citadel (Russian: kreml, or, sometimes, Tatar: kirman), which was declared the World Heritage Site in 2000. Major monuments in the kremlin are the 5-domed 6-columned Annunciation Cathedral (1561-62) and the mysterious leaning Soyembika Tower, named after the last queen of Kazan and regarded as the city's most conspicuous landmark.

Also of interest are the towers and walls, erected in the 16th and 17th centuries but later reconstructed; the Qol-Şarif mosque, which is already rebuilt inside the citadel; remains of the Saviour Monastery (its splendid 16th-century cathedral having been demolished by the Bolsheviks) with the Spasskaya Tower; and the Governor's House (1843-53), designed by Konstantin Thon, now the Palace of the President of Tatarstan.

Next door, the ornate baroque Sts-Peter-and-Paul's Cathedral on Qawi Nacmi Street and Marcani mosque on Qayum Nasiri Street date back to the 18th century.

Bolaq embankment
Bolaq embankment

Bistä or Posad

Central Kazan is divided into two districts by the Bolaq canal and Lake Qaban. The first district (Qazan Bistäse or Kazanskiy Posad), historically Russian, is situated on the hill, the second (İske Tatar Bistäse or Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda), historically Tatar, is situated between the Bolaq and the Volga. Mosques, such as Nurullah, Soltan, Apanay, Äcem, Märcani, İske Taş, Zäñgär are in the Tatar district. Churches, such as Blagoveschenskaya, Varvarinskaya, Nikol'skaya, Tikhvinskaya, are mostly in the Russian part of the city. The main city-centre streets are Bauman, Kreml, Dzerjinski, Tuqay, Puşkin, Butlerov, Gorkiy, Karl Marx and Märcani.

An old legend says that in 1552, before the Russian invasion, wealthy Tatars (baylar) hid gold and silver in Lake Qaban.

The University

The Kazan State University was founded in 1804 and has had several prominent students, including Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky, Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin.

Kazan State Technical University was established in 1932. Today the University is one of the leading institutions in the development of aircraft and rocket engineering, engine- and instrument-production, computer science and radio engineering.

There are nearly 20 institutes and universities in Kazan, but they are not so prominent and the most of them are commercial institutes.

Administrative system

The main body of legislative authority of the city is the Kazan City Council. Executive power is exercised by Kazan City Administration.

Kazan is divided into 7 administrative districts.


The capital of the Republic of Tatarstan is Kazan - a large railway, highway and airway knot, the largest port on the Volga River. Kazan is the main economic centre of Tatarstan. 35% of population, employed in economic branches, concentrate in Kazan. 151 large and medium-size companies are situated in the city, including 98 JSC.

Main branches of municipal industry are as follows: automotive, chemical and petrochemical, light and food industries.

In 2002 the gross territorial product of Kazan reached 96,8 billion rubles. It was mainly formed by the industrial production (27 %), trade and public catering (21,9 %), transport (6,6 %), building sector (4,9 %), net taxes (20 %). Industrial enterprises produced 45 billion rubles worth of products (111,4 % in established prices to the 2001 level). The wages in industry were 4500 rubles (21,5 % higher than in the previous year). The average salary as a whole exceeded 4200 rubles (142,9 % in year-on-year terms). The physical index of industrial production as a whole was 105,3 %. As a preliminary, the industrial income was 6 billion rubles (102,8 % in year-on-year terms).

48,6% of goods produced in Kazan, are sold inside the Republic of Tatarstan, 31% - in the territory of Russia, 20,4% - is exported to the CIS countries and countries of "far abroad".

Export sales of JSC "Kazanorgsintez" form more than 30% of the total volume of enterprise's output. JSC "Kazan Helicopter Plant" exports 92,3% of its output.

JSC "Kazan Optical-mechanical Plant" exports 36,6% of its output.

JSC "Kazanorgsintez" is one of the largest chemical enterprises in Russia. It produces more than a half of the whole polyethylene production of the country. It was included to the RF State List of associations and monopoly enterprises producing polyethylene, polyethylene pipes and details of pipelines. Enterprise is marked by a high management level and firm growth of output volume. Produce quality meets the European standards and is exported to many world countries.

"Kazan Automotive Industrial Enterprise" (KMPO) has more then 60 years experience in aircraft engine production. It has been producing 65% of all engines for civil planes (Il-62, IL-86, Tu-104 and Tu-154), as well as the engines for bombers and helicopters. Today JSC "KMPO" is one of the defence industry enterprises capable to preserve stable financial-economic position. The production of aircraft engine AI-22, gas-pumping unit GPA-16 "Volga", automatic gas distribution station AGRS "Istok", automatic gearbox for buses has been mastered.

JSC "Kazan Helicopter Plant" is the largest producer of helicopters of M. L. Mil design. The helicopters Mi-8 and Mi-17 have brought high popularity for the enterprise. Their reliability, versatility were highly appreciated. At present moment a light multipurpose helicopter Ansat production is being mastered.

A new aircraft Tu-214, produced at the Kazan Aircraft Enterprise n. a. S.P. Gorbunov in March, 2000, got the AP-25 certificate of the second class, which confirms the full aircraft's adequacy to American and European standards. No other aircraft in Russia has such a certificate. Recently, the Enterprise was said to be mastering a new average main jet aircraft Tupolev Tu-324. Although championed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Tu-324 now appears dead, as Tupolev places any private R&D resources available for civil projects into a study into the proposed Tu-414, a 75-seat jet that borrows many of the Tu-324’s design traits.

During the many decades a branch of design and production of medical equipment including scientific, design and production groups has been developed.

A unique enterprise JSC "Kazan Medical-instrumental Plant" has been functioning in Kazan for nearly 70 years. It is a large and the one and the only enterprise in Russia producing more than 300 pcs of medical instruments and equipment practically for all branches of medicine.

Annually the enterprise KPHFO "Tathimfarmpreparat" produces and sells 400 million medicines of more than 130 appellations, including cardiovascular, pain-relieving, anti-fever, counter tuberculosis, ocular and antibiotics. The high quality and low price distinguish products of this company.

PO "Teplocontrol" was awarded "The Arch of European Golden Star" for perfect reputation and quality of its output. Nowadays, with the account of problems of thermal energy calculation, it has mastered production of radiator thermal regulators "Comfort", and started to producing, assembling, delivering and servicing the automatic calculation and regulation units of thermal energy for houses and plants buildings.

JSC "Kazancompressormash" is one of the largest producers of special compressor and freezing equipment. Its output is supplied to large plants and groups of enterprises of metallurgical, gas, oil, chemical and other branches of industry.


Russian and Tatar languages are widely spoken in the city. Russian is understood by practically all the population, apart from some older Tatars. Tatar is widely spoken only by Tatars. Native Tatars are also bilingual in Kazan. The offensive term Mankurt (Mañqort) is used for Tatars who do not speak the native language.

Not much English is spoken in the city, but young people tend to understand it.

City ethnic communities

Tatar part of Kazan in the early 20th century.
Tatar part of Kazan in the early 20th century.

Tatars and Russians

The city's population is mainly composed of Tatars (41–43%) and Russians (50–51%, includes number of Tatar-Russians speaking Russian only). Nearly a third of all marriages in city are between Tatars and Russians.

Most official posts are occupied by Tatars, but others by Russians and some minorities which lived in the city before 1990s.

Other communities

Native Tatarstanlı

Native Tatastanlı nationalities mix with Tatars and Russians.

Native Middle-Volgans

The city's third ethnos is Chuvash (1.2%), who speak their own language, but also Turkic languages group. They are Russian Orthodox with some pre-Christian elements in their religion. Other native for Middle Volga nation are Maris (0.3%), Udmurts (0.1%), Mordvas (0.2%) and Bashkirs (0.2%). Some of them speak Tatar, some Russian and others their own languages. Bashkirs are Muslims, others, like Chuvash, are Russian Orthodox with some pre-Christian elements in their religion.

Some Mari come to Kazan for seasonal work, mostly woodwork and carpentry. They build summer houses and saunas for local people. Chuvash and Mari come to the city every day from their republics and sell potatoes and mushrooms at bazaars.

Ethnic Germans

Ethnic Germans came to Kasan from the 18th century. They served in the Russian Army, or worked in Kazan State University. Some of them are very famous in Kazan, particularly professor Karl Fuchs. During World War II some of them were repressed by Stalin's government.

Today Kazan Germans mostly speak Russian.

Assurs (Assyrians)

Group of Assurs also live in Kazan. By tradition, they work at shoe repairing. Their community lives a closely guarded life: and they do not mix with other communities.

Immigrants in the Soviet period

During World War II a lot of the Western Soviet Union populations were evacuated to Kazan, including schools, educational institutes, and plants. Some of that population did not return to their native lands. They are: Jews, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Poles, and others (nearly 2.5% of population). They speak Russian, sometimes with Ukrainian accent, and many Jews speak Tatar.

Immigrants in the 1990s

One of the biggest Kazan communities is the Azeri community. Most of them are unregistered and work illegally. Azeri tradesmen control all the bazaars. They often sell imitation clothes of famous trademarks or fruits. The number of Azeris is very big. Interestingly, Azeri speak both Russian and Tatar well.

Other Caucasians come from Dagestan, Georgia (country), Armenia and others. They often own cafés or work in construction.

Another big community is the Central Asian community, which includes Uzbeks, Tajiks, Roma and Kyrgyz. Some of the Uzbeks and Tajiks own cafés or fast-food restaurants; sell dried apricots, popular among Kazan citizens. Güli, one of Roma tribes, beg near mosques, at terminals in trams and trains. They give all alms (called sadaqa) to their barons.

Other Central Asians, such as the majority of Uzbeks and Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs work in construction or demolition of old buildings. There are some Afghanians and Turkmen in city. East Asians, such as Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese work in the textile industry

The majority of these people living in Kazan are illegal immigrants. They often don't understand neither Russian nor Tatar, and never mix with them.

Other nationalities are represented by some foreign specialists, foreign companies' representatives, and students at the Kazan universities. Nearly 2000 Turkish specialists work at renovations.


Kazan is served by the Kazan airport approximately 15 kilometers from the city centre.

Kazan is connected with Moscow, Ulyanovsk, Yoshkar-Ola and Yekaterinburg by railways and highways. There are highway connections to Samara, Orenburg, Ufa, Cheboksary, Naberezhnye Chelny (Yar Çallı), Almetyevsk (Älmät), Bugulma (Bögelmä), and Chistopol (Çístay).

There are municipal tramways, trolleybuses and buses, and also a lot of private mini-buses, called marshrutka. There are four bridges connecting banks of Kazanka (Qazansu), and one bridge connecting Kazan with another bank of Volga.

Kazan public transportations

A single-line metro, the north-southeast Central Line, opened on 27 August 2005. The Kazan Metro now has five stations. But there are plans to extend the line in both directions. For more see Kazan Subway

Kazan tram near Imam Shamil's House
Kazan tram near Imam Shamil's House

See also

Tatar (Turkic) and Muslim celebrations

External links

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