The Syuyumbike tower gracefully rises on the Kremlin hill and attracts the attention of residents and guests of the capital of Tatarstan. This is one of the few “leaning’” towers in the world, associated with the name of the last Kazan queen Syuyumbike. For many years the tower has been considered as a symbol of the city, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Many tourists come here to see its graceful slender silhouette. There`s a belief, that if you touch the walls with your hand and make a wish, it will certainly come true.
The actual age of the tower is unknown and it still causes a series of disputes among historians. Some of them say that the tower is dated to the 17th-18th centuries, according to others – to the second half of the 16th century. Another version even relates the construction of the tower to the period of the Kazan Khanate, linking it with the name of the Kazan Khan Muhammad-Amin, who might have asked Ivan 3 to send an Italian architect, Aristotle Fioravanti, to Kazan in order to perpetuate a peaceful alliance between Moscow and Kazan. Interesting, that the dimensions of the brick from which the Syuyumbike tower was built are fully consistent with the standard introduced by Aristotle Fioravanti upon arrival in Moscow.
However, there are no historical documents describing the construction of the tower. Annals of the times of the Kazan Khanate were lost during the capture of the city by the troops of Ivan the Terrible in 1552, and the documents of the Kazan Prikaz, stored in Moscow, were destroyed by the fire of 1701. There are no references to the construction of the tower in the surviving Tatar sources either.
The earliest image of Kazan dates back to 1638. This year, the Saxon traveler Adam Oleari visited Kazan. He made sketches of the city, but no buildings similar to the Syuyumbike were found on them. The same can be said of the Dutch cartographer Nikolaes Witsen, who visited Kazan in 1692. On the famous historical sketches of Kazan, called “Northern and Eastern Tartaria”, there is no tower either.
Most likely, the Syuyumbike tower was built in the first half of the 18th century, which is evidenced by the fact that the tower appears on the city plan as an element of the internal defensive line only in Peter’s time, in 1717-1718.
The Syuyumbike tower is a unique symbiosis of Russian and Tatar architecture. The design is somewhat reminiscent of the Borovitskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin, but with oriental elements.
The tower is located on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin, in a distance from the fortress walls. This location is explained by the fact that initially the structure served as a patrol (watch) tower. From the top of it you can have a wide view of the surroundings.
The total height of the Syuyumbike tower is 58 meters. The tower leaning in the north-eastern direction bears an almost two-metre slope. The structure has seven tiers: the first three of them are square, the rest are octagons. There are special galleries around the perimeter of each tier. At the top of the tower there is an elegant spire with a gilded ball; a symbol of the Islamic religion -crescent moon is attached to it. The tower also serves as a passage and the arch of the first tier is decorated with openwork wrought iron gates “Day and Night”, made according to the sketch of architect R. M. Zabirov.
Legends of the Syuyumbike tower
The history of this architectural monument is covered with numerous legends. One of them says, that Ivan the Terrible, having heard about the beauty of Syuyumbike, offered her to become his queen, but the proud Kazan ruler rejected him. Then Ivan the Terrible came to the walls of the city with a huge army and said that if Syuyumbike did not agree to marry him, he would wipe Kazan off the face of the earth. Queen Suyumbike, in order to save her people, had no choice but to agree. However, she set the condition: Tsar should build the highest tower of the city in seven days. By the end of the seventh day, the tower was built. On the wedding day, queen Suyumbike climbed to the very top of the tower to look at Kazan for the last time. And according to one of the legend, she turned into a beautiful bird and flew away. In memory of the Kazan queen, the tower was also called the Syuyumbike Tower.
There are other legends about the tower. They say that the tower was erected by the Russians, who captured Kazan, as a sign of respect for the great culture enslaved by them. Another legend says that Suyumbike built a tower in memory of her husband Safa-Girey, who died in 1549. Legends are legends, but so far no one can say for sure who built the tower and why it is falling.
The truth about queen Suyumbike
In the entire history of the Kazan Khanate, there was only one woman as the rule of the state – Syuyumbike. She served as regent of Kazan and was forced to rule for her young son, after the death of her husband. During the short two years of rule, she managed to free peasants, artisans and small traders from taxes. The people nicknamed her “beloved mistress”, translated from the Tatar – Syuyumbike.
The time of her reign is the difficult years of Kazan Khanate. In 1551, after the first partial conquest of the Khanate of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible she was forcibly moved to Moscow with her son and later married Khan Shah-Ali against her will, Russia-imposed khan of Qasim and Kazan Tatars. It is known that Shah Ali took her to the city of Kasimov, where she lived quiet and peaceful life to an old age.
– The height of the Syuyumbike tower is two meters higher than the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
– Suyumbike tower – a recognized architectural symbol of Kazan.
– Architect Alexei Shchusev reproduced the silhouette of the Syuyumbike tower during the construction of the Kazan Station building in Moscow.
– Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of the tomb of the Tatar khans near the wall of the tower,
– A unique monument of ancient architecture can be seen in the 2013 adventure film “Treasures of Lake Kaban”.
– At night, the walls of the building are illuminated by lights, turning the structure into a picture from a fairy tale.
How to get there
The Leaning Tower of Syuyumbike is located on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin Complex.
Nearest Bus Stops — «Central Stadium», «ul. Baturina»;
Metro Station «Kremlevskaya»
Address: 420014, Russia, Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan, Kremlin
GPS: 55.8004759175379, 49.1051897965372
Phone: +7 (843) 567-80-01, 567-80-74
You can see the famous Syuyumbike tower during a sightseeing tour of the Kazan Kremlin.