Despite its age, Kazan can’t boast of really ancient buildings. The reason is easy to explain – devastating war that took place in 1552 (right before the downfall of Kazan) destroyed a great part of the city, Kremlin was damaged especially badly. Later almost all the mosques in the city were destroyed by the order of Russian government. Fires completed what people had left – yearly whole blocks of buildings would burn to the ground. So, the fire of 1579 uprooted almost the whole trading quarter, including Novaya Sloboda (New Settlement), and the same happened in 1694. As a result, nowadays the oldest building in the city is the so-called Mikhlyaev house (today it’s Dzhalil Street, 19), built at the end of the ÕVII-th century. By the way, in 1722 the first Russian Emperor Peter I stayed there (he spent several days in Kazan). This house with its stone walls a meter and a half wide was later used as an alms-house, a tavern, an inn, and a candle factory (today it’s a storehouse…)
As for the Kazan Kremlin, which even in the times of Kazan Khanate partly consisted of stone buildings, it was, as historians say, completely destroyed, but the old “tatar” foundations were later used as the basis for new constructions. According to one of the variants, some of the ancient walls were “wrapped” in “Russian bricks”. The most famous building – Sujumbike Tower – as the legend says, belongs to the period of the downfall of Kazan Khanate. Still to all appearances this tower was built not sooner than in the last quarter of the ÕVII-th century, though partly – on the foundations of former watchtower of the Khanate period. Sujumbike Tower is not only the symbol of Kazan, it’s also one of the few world’s falling towers. Two meters higher than Pisa tower, right after its construction was finished, Sujumbike Tower started to slant to the east, as its western part proved to be more stable, being built on the wrecks of the old watchtower. By 1930 deviation from the axis reached 128 cm. Recovery work that took place in 1990-es helped to stop slanting.
By the end of the third part of the ÕVI-th century Kazan looked exactly like a typical Russian city.
In 1768 V.I. Kaftirev, the first professional Kazan architect worked out a plan of the city replanning. The central streets were built mainly in stone. The new plan was brought to life rather quickly, and soon newspapers admitted that Kazan was the best Russian city after Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Russian Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism, Eclecticism – traces of these and other main schools of Russian architecture can be found in Kazan.
The end of the XX-th century was marked by rapid growth of new residential areas and public buildings. The medieval mosque Kul-Sharif is being restored, several clubs like “Pyramid”, “Basket-Hall” have been opened for public use, and lots of buildings in the center and in the Kremlin area have been reconstructed.