The Old Tatar Quarter (“Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda”) is a beautiful landmark of Kazan, where you can fully experience the atmosphere of the past. The uniqueness of the settlement lies in its historical architecture. Here you can see the pride of the Quarter: stone mosques of Mardzhani and Apanayevskaya, the most “delicious” museum of Kazan – the Chak-chak Museum, the literary museum of the great Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay and much more- be prepared to stay here for a whole day!
The Quarter is located in a very beautiful area. Nearby is the picturesque Lake Kaban, which offers a magnificent view, as well as the famous Tatar Academic Theater named after Galiaskar Kamal. This is a great place for walking: beautifully decorated in the Tatar style, houses and streets will make you feel the atmosphere of past times.
The history of the Tatar Quarter began in the 16th century, when after the capture of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible in 1552, loyal Tatars had to move from the upper part of the city to the left bank of Lake Kaban. By the end of the 16th century, the Quarter became a kind of Muslim suburbian area and the first mosques, merchant houses and Muslim educational institutions were opened in that territory.
A huge role in the rapid development of Quarter was played by Empress Catherine the Great. During a visit to Kazan in 1767, she personally canceled all previous bans on the construction of stone mosques and Tatar public buildings. At that time, many architectural masterpieces of Tatar masters were built here, including a large number of mosques.
In the 19th century, the settlement was the religious and social center of the Tatar population of Kazan, a place of concentration of its national culture, trade and craft. Prominent figures of the Tatar people lived in the Quarter. At that time there were whole blocks of artisans: carpenters, potters, tanners, jewelers and etc. In the 19th century, the famous Oriental Club, where famous poets read their works and the first Tatar plays were staged, also functioned on the territory of the settlement.
The separation between the Tatar and Russian parts of the city continued until the 1917 revolution. Unfortunately, in the Soviet period, and partially after it, small wooden houses and buildings that did not have architectural and historical value were demolished – they were built up with multi-storey residential buildings. Despite this, the historical appearance of the district is still preserved.
In 1998, the Quarter received the status of a historical and cultural reserve area of “Iske-Tatar bistese” with a special status and regime. Now almost the entire settlement is part of the Vakhitovsky region, with the exception of the territory of industrial enterprises in its south. During the preparation for celebrating the millennium of the city in 2005, many buildings in the settlement were restored.
Main Sights of the Old Tatar Quarter
The Quarter remains the most preserved ancient territory of the city of Kazan. This area is practically an open-air museum, a place where time stopped in the past. The architectural appearance of the settlement is constituted by the structures of the late 18th – early 19th century.
Mosques deserve special attention. They are magnificent examples of Muslim architecture and are listed in the cultural heritage of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Al -Marjani Mosque
This is the most famous mosque in Kazan, located in the city center. The Al-Marjani Mosque was a historic landmark – embodiment of the beginning of a multi-faith religious tolerance society in Russia, proclaimed by Empress Catherine II in the late 18th century. This mosque, for more than two centuries, was the largest and main cathedral mosque in Kazan and remains the historical center of the Tatar-Muslim spirituality in Tatarstan.
The beautiful mosque was also built with the personal permission of Empress Catherine II, and appeared almost simultaneously with the Mardzhani mosque. The architectural style of this attraction is a mixture of Baroque and decorative architecture. The mosque with a bright green roof became the second stone mosque in the city.
A Muslim monument of Tatar architecture of the early 19th century. It got its name by the color of the walls, which has not reached our days, and now the mosque is white. It is located in the depths of Kazan streets, in a quiet place where you can truly feel the ancient spirit of the Muslim religion.
This is the fifth stone mosque built in Kazan. It is located on Gabdulla Tukay Street, in the northern part of the Old Tatar Quarter, not far from the former Sennoy Bazaar. The mosque got its name in honor of the Tatar Imam and reformer Galimzyan Barudi, the son of the merchant Galeev. The mosque has a female madrassah “Muhammadiya”.
This is truly the most beautiful ancient mosque of the Quarter. The tall slender minaret of the mosque resembles the ancient minarets of ancient Constantinople. The interior of the mosque is designed in the medieval Oriental traditions. It is definitely worth seeing the mosque as it is a unique monument of the cult architecture of the Tatars of the 19th century.
This is a monument of Tatar religious architecture, built at the expense of Tatar patrons in 1867. Painted in emerald color, the mosque stands out for its bright unusual architecture and a pointed minaret. It is interesting that the famous Tatar theologian Shigabutdin Marjani read the first prayer in the mosque.
The mosque, with its rather striking architecture, was built with the money of the merchant Burnaev in the late 19th century. This is the third stone mosque in Kazan. It combines the motives of East Muslim architecture and Russian eclecticism. According to legend, Burnaev was a great travel lover and he dreamed of building a mosque in the Turkish style. He succeeded, and the mosque still stands and pleases the eye of Kazan citizens and visitors.
The religious building was built at the expense of the Yunusov merchants in the historical part of the Quarter, in the center of the Sennoy Bazaar. Life was in full swing in this place in the 19th century. The mosque was specially built for Muslims who came to trade at the bazaar. The building is made in an eclectic style, and the minaret of the mosque reminds the Big Minaret in ancient Bolgar. The interior of the mosque is decorated with tulip ornaments, which in the Tatar culture are symbols of rebirth and renewal. At night, the mosque is beautifully illuminated.
Gabdulla Tukay Literary Museum ( Shamil House)
The Shamil House is the most beautiful and elegant mansion in Kazan and the Old Tatar Quarter, reminds a medieval European castle. It was built and presented to his daughter by a merchant Ibrahim Apakov in the 60s of the 19th century.
Today, the literary museum of Gabdulla Tukay situated here. The museum has interactive zones, a children’s room, where kids are greeted by heroes of Tukay’s fairy tales. Visitors of the museum can get acquainted with details of the life of the famous Tatar poet; see his personal belongings and photographs.
This is an ancient square in the historical part of the city. Favored by wealthy merchants, the square began to be gradually built up according to the projects of the best Kazan architects. Due to its location in the central Tatar part of the city, it became a place of mass gatherings, meetings and demonstrations of the Tatar citizens. Here you can see the most beautiful Shamil House, the House of the Yunusov-Apanayevs, the Tatar teacher’s school and other bright monuments of antiquity.
Printing house of the Karimov brothers (Chuck – Chuck Museum)
This building housed the largest printing house producing fiction and religious books. In Soviet times, newspapers were published here. Near the printing house there was a library and a shop.
In 2014, the Chak-Chak Museum was opened in the printing house, and now it is one of the favorite places for tourists. The museum recreates the life of the Tatar village, and also tells the story of the creation of chak-chak and other Tatar sweets.
How to get there
The Quarter is located in the city center, along the shore of Lake Kaban, near the “Ploshchad Tukaya” metro station.
Nearest Bus Stops – «Kayum Nasyri», «Kamal Theathre», «Yunusovskaya Square»;
Nearest Metro Station – « Tukaya Square»
You can get acquainted with the history of the Tatar people and see the unique preserved monuments of the Old Tatar Quarter during a fascinating walking tour of the Quarter, or during a sightseeing tour of Kazan.