The Old Tatar Neighbourhood (Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda)

After the army of Ivan the Terrible captured Kazan in 1552, Tatars had to stay outside the inner city, settling in a suburb across the Bulak Canal. Eventually there arose a community that came to be known as Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda, or Old Tatar Neighbourhood. The neighbourhood has in recent years seen several historical mosques restored. There are also a few museums. Restoration is ongoing on some 18th and 19th-century houses and estates in the baroque, classical and eclectic style, the latter being a fusion of Russian and Tatar architecture.

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This three-storey boarding house, built in 1866 to the design of Pyotr Romanov, originally belonged to Ibrahim Appakov, 1st Guild Merchant. His daughter Mariam Shamil sold the house in 1897 to local entrepreneur Akhmet Khusainov, who resold it to 1st Guild Merchant Shakir Kazakov. In the early 1900s one of the tenants, Fatkullah Ahmadullin, started a hotel named Bulgar on one of the floors. Yulduz (Star) and El-Islah (Reform) newspapers made the rooms of Bulgar Hotel the home of their editorial offices, and so did Yalt-Yolt Magazine, Magarif (Education) Publishers, and the first Tatar-language library, Kitapkhanai Islamia. Members of the Tatar intelligentsia congregated for their talks in the hotel's Oriental Club.

The hotel is particularly proud of having hosted the great Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay from October 1907 to December 1912. He worked for several local editors and publishers. Tukay wrote his poetry here, including Par at and Shurale, which every Tatar knows by heart. The building was completely demolished in 2008. The front of the new building only imitates his historical facade. However, there are plans to open a Tukay memorial room in the hotel.
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Empress Catherine II returned from her 1767 trip to the Kazan Governorate so impressed by what she had seen and by local hospitality that she issued a decree allowing the construction of mosques in stone. She issued another decree in 1773, "On the Tolerance of All Faiths," which made life much easier for Moslems.

Al-Marjani was one of the first two mosques built following the occupation of Kazan by the troops of Ivan the Terrible. The mosque has previously borne two other names: Yunusov (in honour of its local merchant patrons), and Efende (Seigniorial). Opened in 1771, it quickly became the Islamic heart of the city.

Al-Marjani is a two-storey building in the Saint Petersburg Baroque style, with a three-tier minaret. The architect of Al-Marjani is assumed to have been Vasily Kaftyrev. When some local residents complained that the 30-metre (98-foot) tower was too tall, Catherine II famously replied, "I gave them a place on the ground, but they can soar up to the sky as high as they want."

The mosque was expanded a few times and received an open-work fence in 1887. The mosque was eventually named after Shigabutdin Marjani, who was its Imam in 1850-1889 and one of the first Tatar historians. The Islamic school he opened taught geometry, history and astronomy, as well as divinity.

Al-Marjani was the only Islamic house of prayer remaining open in Kazan during the Soviet decades. Located next to the mosque are the Kazan Mukhtasibat (administration of the Spiritual Authority of the Moslems of Tatarstan), Kazan Islamic College, and some shops selling halal foods, Islamic literature and symbols.
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This is another one of the oldest stone mosques built in 1768-1771 in the wake of Catherine II's decree. The construction was funded by local merchant Yakub Sultangaleyev, and the mosque was intended for the workers of his cloth mill. The mosque was later named after the merchants Apanayev, who kept it up. At certain points in its history, the mosque was also named Bayskaya (Baylar) and Peshchernaya (Tau tishege). The latter name, which means "Cave Mosque," was probably owed to the location of the mosque next to a precipitous riverbank.

The anonymous architect of this temple fused Moscow Baroque with Tatar decorative arts. Originally a single-room temple with an octagonal minaret, the mosque received another floor in 1872 in a remodelling project designed by Pyotr Romanov.

The Islamic school attached to this mosque was at the forefront of historical research, producing history books. The madrasa boasts such famous alumni as playwright Galiaskar Kamal, writer Gayaz Iskhaki, politicians Sadri Maksudi and Akhmad-Zaki Validi. The madrasa printing house put out large quantities of most varied books.

The mosque was stripped of its decor and minaret and closed down in 1930. It was divided into three floors and converted to a kindergarten. The restored mosque was reopened in 2011. Its interior decorations have been partially restored from old photographs.
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This was the third cathedral mosque, built in 1799, initially in wood. The mosque was destroyed by another city fire, one of many, and the replacement mosque was built in red brick. It was designed by Pyotr Romanov and built with the money donated by local merchant Mukhametsadyk Burnayev. Added in 1895, its minaret, designed by Fyodor Malinovsky and Lev Khroshchonovich, is reminiscent of the belfry of the Epiphany Cathedral. This is probably the only mosque in Kazan exhibiting such a strong influence of Russian architecture, although Tatar and general oriental traits are also present. The mosque was closed in the 1930s and reopened in 1994. Sermons are held in Russian here on Fridays, in order to reach out to the Russian-speaking Moslem visitors of Kazan.
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This is a part of a larger estate built in the first half of the 19th century, which belonged to 1st Guild Merchant Gubaidulla Yunusov. His son Ibrahim founded a Moslem orphanage here in 1844. Kazan's first charity for Tatar children supported itself with the proceeds from 29 stone shops in Sennaya Ploschad (Sennaya Square), which Ibrahim had donated to the orphanage. The original plan was to name the orphanage in honour of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, but Emperor Nicholas I suggested that it be named after the Yunusovs instead.

At the end of the 19th century the house became property of another eminent Tatar merchant, Mukhammadbadretdin Apanayev, who converted it to a free medical institution for the poor. Following the 1917 Revolution, the new authorities opened a polyclinic here in 1921. Restoration of the house, which included reconstruction of its moulded decorations and sculptures, was completed by the year 2009. Today it houses the in-patient day care centre, remedial treatment centre, and emergency station of the municipal polyclinic complex.
The Azimovskaya Mosque, also known as Zavodskaya, or Factory Mosque (workers of the Krestovnikovs' soap and stearin factory, currently Nefis Cosmetics, used to pray here) is one of the finest Moslem temples in Kazan, as attested by its "Seljuk Chain" ornaments, its stalactite cornice, stained glass windows, pointed arches, and its thin 51-metre (167-foot) three-level minaret. But it was an unremarkable wooden structure when it was first built in 1804. Local merchant Mustafa Azimov donated the money for a new mosque in 1851. His son Murtaza had another wooden mosque built a few years later. He initiated the construction of a stone mosque in 1887, but did not live to see it completed. Galiasgar Kamal, the paterfamilias of Tatar drama, went to Gaffaria Islamic school attached to this mosque.

Closed down in 1939, the mosque soon found itself in the middle of an industrial neighbourhood, converted to mixed use as a cafeteria, dormitory, Tatar school of cinema technicians, and a cinema. Eventually the mosque was reconstructed and reopened as a house of prayer in the early 1990s.
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This cemetery goes back more than 250 years – to a time when some inhabitants of the Old Tatar Neighbourhood had to relocate. They moved to this area, and the New Tatar Neighbourhood was started.

Among the graves of the Cemetery, inscribed in Arabic, Latin and Cyrillic script, stand the gravestones of some of the greatest Tatar cultural figures: poet Gabdulla Tukay, writers Abdrakhman Absalyamov, Fatikh Amirkhan, Gumer Bashirov, Amirkhan Yeniki, Naki Isanbet, Fanis Yarullin, composers Sara Sadykova, Salikh Saidashev, Jaudat Faizi, Enver Bakirov, actors Shaukat Biktemirov, Gulsum Bolgarskaya, Sakhibjamal Gizzatullina-Volzhskaya, religious scholar Shigabutdin Marjani, scientist Kayum Nasyri, and painter Baki Urmanche.
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Members of the local Moslem community built their first mosque themselves in 1778 at what is now Ulitsa Sary Sadykovoy (Sary Sadykovoy Street), but was then an intersection of Bolshaya Meshchanskaya Ulitsa (Bolshaya Meshchanskaya Street) and Poperechno-Zakharyevskaya Ulitsa (Poperechno-Zakharyevskaya Street). Although this part of the neighbourhood was right next to the pompous Yunusov Ploschad (Yunusov Square), it was a neighbourhood populated by poor peasant families, who had nonetheless scraped together enough money to build themselves a wooden mosque.

Local merchant Akhmet Aitov-Zamanov, who made his fortune in the boiling of soap, had a brick mosque built in its stead in 1815-1819, and had it painted blue. Halidia, the oldest madrasa in Tatarstan, opened at this mosque in 1825. Unlike the newer Islamic schools, this one was always a Qadimist educational institution, which meant that it opposed European education and condemned Tatar drama. Ironically, the seminal Tatar playwright Galiaskar Kamal studied here.

When the mosque was closed in 1932, its minaret was dismantled, and the building was converted to housing. The mosque was returned to the Moslem community in 1993, and the three-level minaret was back in its place in 2009.
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This museum is also known as Shamil House. Shamil led the national liberation movement in the Caucasus in the 19th century. His son Mukhammadshafi married Bibimariambana, the daughter of 1st Guild Merchant Ibrahim Apakov, in 1884. Apakov gave the newlyweds this house as his daughter's dowry. The house was rebuilt in 1903 under the supervision of the architects Rusch and Amlong. It was converted to communal flats during Soviet times. The Gabdulla Tukay Literary Museum was set up here in 1986. It is not known with certainty whether the poet had ever visited this house. The museum tells the life story of Gabdulla Tukay, and has his personal items on display, such as his black corduroy skullcap and his metal glass for pencils. There are plans to enlarge this exposition, so that it becomes a museum of Tatar intelligentsia.
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Kazan's fifth cathedral mosque, Galeyevskaya Mosque was built on the cusp of the 18th and 19th centuries, mostly with the money donated by local merchant Musa Mamyashev (hence its alias: Musa-Bai Mosque). An annex was added to the building in 1882, courtesy of another merchant – Ibrahim Urazayev. It was expanded 15 years later with the money given by local merchant Ismagil Imankulov, who also had a new three-level minaret built.

Galeyev Mosque was named in honour of its Imam-Khatib Galimzyan Galeyev (Barudi), who officiated here in 1882-1917 and founded the Muhammadiyah Islamic school, probably the most advanced Islamic school at the time, which taught several languages and secular sciences. Prominent Tatar educators Abubekir Teregulov, Said-Girey Alkin and Yusuf Akchura taught here. The classrooms had school desks, lecterns, maps on the walls, and other hallmarks of a regular European school. Among the graduates of this madrasa were the writers Fatikh Amirkhan, Majit Gafuri, Fatikh Burnash, Karim Tinchurin, Naki Isanbet, artist Baki Urmancheh, revolutionaries Husain Yamashev and Kamil Yakub. The mosque was closed and its minaret destroyed at the end of the 1930s. It was restored in 1998, and the Russian Islamic University (now Institute) moved in. Muhammadiyah Madrasa resumed operation nearby, at Ulitsa Gabdully Tukaya (Gabdully Tukaya Street), 34, in 1993.
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The largest private printing concern in Kazan was founded by the brothers Sharifzyan, Mukhametzyan and Khasan Karimov, who hailed from the village of Bolshiye Chirkeleyi in the Simbirsk Governorate. They published 1700 titles before 1917: religious literature, fiction, school books, folk tales and poetry. The print runs of all these books exceeded 20 million on aggregate. The brothers started the city's first Islamic library next door, which had enough seating for 150 people. They also opened a shop next to the library. A whole enterprise complex emerged on this street corner. The Karimov brothers also owned the building known as Mustakimov's House in Yunusovskaya Ploschad (Yunusovskaya Square), and they were the last owners to have it remodelled prior to 1917. The Karimovs published the Russian-language Kazan Theatre Courier newspaper, and the Tatar-language papers Koyash, Tan Yoldyzy and Tavysh.

The brothers left Kazan in the wake of the 1917 Revolution, and the Tatar Republic launched one of its first publishing enterprises on the premises of the printing house in 1919. The building now houses the Museum of Chak-Chak. Chak-Chak is a traditional Tatar dessert made with dough and honey.
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This Orthodox Christian temple – a rare sight in the Old Tatar Neighbourhood – was originally built between the years 1646 and 1685. But the church that has survived to this day was erected in its stead in the late 1700s. In fact, the church we see today emerged in the late 1800s following an expansion and remodelling. At that time it already bore the name of the Icon of the Holy Virgin, whose image had, according to legend, appeared above the city in 1859 – and the huge fire stopped that day in the Old Tatar Neighbourhood. The icon itself can be seen in the Saint Nicholas Cathedral.

The church was closed in 1938, to be returned to the Kazan Eparchy in 1997. It is now the central temple of all the Kryashen parishes of Tatarstan. The Kryashens are a community of Tatars baptized in Orthodox Christianity, who number around 50,000 across Tatarstan. A museum of Kryashen history and culture was appended to the church in 2015.
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This two-storey brick building inspired by Moroccan and Andalusian architecture was built in 1898 to the order of local resident Shakirzyan Shamsutdinov – a career military man in his younger years. Which was the reason why his house was christened the House of Shakir the Soldier.

Along with the manor house, there were all the appropriate services on the estate: stables, carriage garage, baths, and some annexes for servants. The mansion was restored to its historical appearance in 2012.
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The oldest stone mosque in the New Tatar Neighbourhood was built in 1802 with the money donated by merchant Gabdulla Utyamyshev. Meticulous record has been kept of all the Imams of this mosque since Amirkhan Gabdelmannan. His great-grandson was Fatikh Amirkhan, a renowned Tatar author, publisher and editor of the El-Islakh and Koyash newspapers, writer for the An and Yalt-Yolt magazines. Another writer, Gayaz Iskhaki, taught at the school attached to this mosque.

Iske Tash Mosque was closed in the late 1930s and the building was subsequently used as a warehouse. It reopened in 1994.
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Some of the aliases of this two-storey mosque with a round minaret are the Seventh Cathedral or the Sennaya Mosque. It was erected in the middle of the hay market (hence the name "Sennaya"), the Tatar social hive.

The Sennaya Mosque was built in 1849 for a very mundane purpose, as a place where market traders could pray without long interruptions in their work. The construction was sponsored by the Yunusov merchant family (hence the mosque's other alias: Yunusov's). Finnish architect Alexander Loman designed it, and Alexander Peske, an architect on the Kazan Governorate Construction Commission, managed the construction.

The mosque was shut down in 1929, and the minaret was taken apart. Regular people would live and work in the building until 1992. In 1981 the building was awarded architectural landmark status. The mosque was returned to the Moslem community in 1992, and received its current name: Nurulla. The mosque and the minaret were reconstructed by 1995 to the design of Rafik Bilyalov. The mosque's imam-khatib Gabdulla Galiullin was Tatarstan's first mufti.

Architecturally the mosque is eclectic, while its minaret replicates the shape of the Grand Minaret in ancient Bolgar. The interior decoration keynote in the Nurulla Mosque is the tulip ornament as a symbol of rejuvenation and rebirth.