Historic and Architectural Complex of 
the Kazan Kremlin (2000)

Республика Татарстан -- Казани

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Built on an ancient site, the Kazan Kremlin dates from the Muslim period of the Golden Horde and the Kazan Khanate (*). It was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and became the Christian See of the Volga Land. The only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia and an important place of pilgrimage, the Kazan Kremlin consists of an outstanding group of historic buildings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, integrating remains of earlier structures of the 10th to 16th centuries. 

Kazan is a city in central European Russia, capital of the republic of Tatarstan, and a port at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka rivers. Once a prominent Muslim city, Kazan remains a center of Tatar culture. 

It is the site of Kazan State University (founded in 1804), where Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Ilich Lenin studied. Kazan' was largely destroyed in 1774 during a revolt by troops under the leadership of the Cossack soldier Yemelyan Pugachev, but was rebuilt soon thereafter, during the reign of Catherine the Great. 

  • Russia 2000. Series of Russian regions. Tatarstan. The Suyumbike Tower in Kazan. 

Russia 2000. Regions of Russia. Tatarstan.

In 2005 Russia has issued a souvenir sheet commemorating the Millennium of the foundation of Kazan. Here are close-ups of the three stamps from the sheet. In the upper selvedge of the sheet there is a panoramic view of modern Kazan with the buildings shown on the stamps below, and in the lower selvedge a historical map of the city. 

Russia 2005. World Cultural Heritage. Kazan Millennium. The Suyumbike Tower. Russia 2005. World Cultural Heritage. Kazan Millennium. The Kul Sharif Mosque. Russia 2005. World Cultural Heritage. Kazan Millennium. The Cathedral of the Annunciation.

Kazan is a city with a colorful, violent, complicated, rich history. Relations between the city and Russia, its gigantic neighbor to the north, were volatile for centuries, as Tatar troops invaded Russian lands and Russian armies (both temporal and spiritual) tried to take Tatar land and convert its Islamic population to Russian Orthodoxy. The attitude of the Russian rulers to the Tatars was varied: in the 16th century, Ivan the Terrible tried to forcibly convert the Tatars; in the mid-18th century, Empress Elizabeth decreed that all Tatar mosques in the city be destroyed, leading to the razing of more than 400 mosques; and in the late 18th century, Catherine the Great allowed new building of mosques. Some mosques dating from this period still stand in the city.

Map of Russia with Tatarstan.

Kazan is the administrative center of the Republic of Tatarstan

Russia 1962. Kazan. Administrative Center of Tatarstan.

  • Map of Russia with Tatarstan marked with red.

  • Russia 1962. Kazan. 

Russia 1996. Souvenir sheet. Icon "Mother of God of Kazan".

One of the most famous and venerated Orthodox icons in Russian history is closely tied to the city of Kazan. 

When volunteer fighters went from Kazan to help liberate Moscow from Polish troops in 1612, they carried with them an icon called "Our Lady of Kazan". 

The subsequent victory in Moscow was widely attributed to the mystical powers of this icon, and two grand churches were built -- one in Moscow, the world famous St. Basil's Cathedral (on this site), and one on St. Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect -- in honor of the icon.

The icon is now in the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg. 

  • Russia 1996. The venerated icon "Our Lady of Kazan", also known as "Kazan Mother of God". In the selvedge a lamp of incense. Note that the sheet appears exactly as shown here with shaded corners. 

As mentioned above, both Leo Tolstoy and Lenin studied in Kazan. There exist Soviet stamps issued in honour of Lenin and his time in Kazan, but I do not have them. 

However, there is a third world famous person from this city, the opera singer Fyodor Chalyapin, who was a native of Kazan.  

  • Russia 1973. Fyodor [Theodor] Chalyapin. 
  • Russia 1978. Leo Tolstoy, 150th birth anniversary. 

USSR 1978. Leo Tolstoy. 150th birth anniversary.

Russia 1973. Opera singer Fyodor Chalyapin, born in Kazan.

Present relations between the Tatars and Russians are for the most part stable, although there are segments of Tatar society who agitate strongly for Tatar independence. The long history between the Russian and Tatar peoples has resulted in a large number of mixed marriages, which adds to the general stability. Tatar language is taught in schools in Kazan, and the red, white and green flag of Tatarstan flies over government buildings. 

(*) Note
A "khanate" is a territory governed by a medieval Chinese emperor or Mongolian or Turkish khan. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Russia (on this web site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Russia-section, for further information on such sites. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved