Architecture of the Kazan Khanate period
How did the city look like in 1552? The researcher Niyaz Khalit believes that the answer can be found on the famous engraving “Olearia”. The fortress of Kazan of the XV-XVI centuries occupied almost all the territory of today’s Kremlin; it was limited in the south by fortifications that followed the borders of Tezitsky ravine. Fortifications of the citadel consisted of a deep ditch (up to 3 meters) and a rampart which was covered with oak walls (6-7 meters wide) filled with earth. The fortified part of the city was about 13 hectare. During the excavation works the scientist found within the fortress a number of wooden buildings.
In the north-east part of the Kremlin (the area of today’s President’s Palace) there were found the remains of the fortified tsar’s yard that occupied the main part of the Kremlin hill. On its territory there was a mosque of white stone (mosque Nur-Ali) with a high minaret, next to it were situated the khans’s mausoleums. All of then were square in shape and were made of white stone. Inside the scientist found richly decorated with carving gypsum headstones, under which there were the burials in 2 coffins (one coffin inside the other, according to Moslem traditions). Also within the fortress there were found remains of wooden and stone constructions (houses and household erections) and a large white stone building (possibly it was the khan’s palace).
Closer to the southern part of the fortress, near Tezitsky ravine there was the mosque and attached to it medrese Kul-Sharif. A large settlement was situated next to the southern and south-east sides of the fortress. According to archaeological finds the settlement was on the territory that today is limited by Lobachevsky Street in the west, in the north – by a chain of lakes (Bannoe, Chernoe, Poganoe), in the east – by the right bank of the river Bulak, and in the south – by Tashayak Street. This settlement already in the middle of the XV century was protected by a wall and ditches, which were renewed and rebuilt several times. The rampart that was used as foundations for the wall was 15-20 meters wide and 3-4 meters high. Metallurgy, pottery, wood-working, stone-cutting, tanning industry, jeweller’s art and military science prospered in Kazan. Besides, outside the city as well as inside there were several cemeteries. The grave stone of 1530 was found at one of them, to be exact at the cemetery situated in the area of the State united museum of the Republic Tatarstan. Scientists also found large graveyards of the XV-XVI centuries on the territories of modern K.Nadzhmy Street, and next to the building of the physics department of Kazan State University (Izmailov).
The famous Kazan researcher Niyaz Khalit believes that main mosque of Kazan was 8-tower Dzhamy, which was described by Mardzhany. This mosque was also called Kul-Ashraf. Andrey Kurbsky, one of the Russian commanders who took part in the siege of Kazan in 1552 mentioned in his memoirs 5 extremely high mosques. In fact there were much more than 5 mosques in the city, and different sources prove this, and the mosques played the leading role in the panorama of Kazan. In general the monumental architecture of Kazan used austere and ascetic forms, only separate elements, as Niyaz Khalit says, were richly decorated with carving, ornamental insets and painting. Such details were mostly used in decoration of interiors, entrances portals, doorways and window openings.
No doubt, arrival of Chingiz khans on Kazan throne influences the architecture of the land. They brought their “Osmanian” traditions.
During the seizure of Kazan the army of Ivan the Terrible destroyed most of the monuments of Moslem culture. The mosques were totally ruined, and the Moslems were evicted from the city.
Fires destroyed famous schools, ancient libraries; treasures of material and spiritual culture amassed by tens of generations were lost.