Kazan Kremlin

Kazan Khanate's.

The history of the Kazan Khanate, which embodied the thousand-years-old tradition of Turkic states of Eurasia and experience of its great predecessors, the Volga Boulgana and Golden Horde, is full of mystery and legends. Despite a quite short period of its existence of slightly over hundred years, the fate of the state, nevertheless, was interesting and rich in great and dramatic events, whose significance extended beyond the borders of the Volga region, affecting fates of many peoples and countries,
Ulug-Moukhammad, khan of the Golden Horde, who was dethroned, had to leave his domains in Crimea and went to Russian lands with a small troop. He occupied the town of Belev on the Oka, organised a campaign against Moscow and decided to settle on the Middle Volga in the Kazan State.
Almost universally recognised among historians is the opinion based on the information of a Kazan chronicler, according to which Ulug-Moukhammad took Kazan in 1438 and began ruling there. However, the reliable sources have no information on his conquest of Kazan, The Kazan Khanate emerged on the basis of the Kazan principality In 1445. when «tsar Mamotek [Makhmoutek or Makhmoud], son of Ulug-Magmet. took Kazan, killed the holder of the Kazan patrimonial estate prince Libey |Alimbek or Galimbekj, and began ruling in Kazan". This historic event described in the Voskresenskaya Chronicle marked the history of the Kazan Khanate. The last ruler of the Kazan principality was killed by Makhmoud of the Golden Horde who seized power in the state. For over hundred years the capital city was destined to see its twelve rulers, some of them occupied the Kazan throne several times.
The Kazan Khanate disappeared following a sequence of unavoidable events. After so many years the images of historic figures sank into oblivion. Modern buildings have dissolved the image of the medieval capital. But what was that capitai like? Which historic monuments reminding of the khanate period, have survived in the Kremlin until our days? Or have they all been completely destroyed? These questions aroused interest of scientists for a long time. Owing to their efforts we can tessellate from the crumbs of knowledge the life of a huge medieval town.
The formation of Kazan as the capital of the khanate has determined the increased interest of contemporaries in its history, which is reflected in written sources. The image of the town emerges in descriptions of the history of the Kazan Khanate in the Kazan History, in memoirs of foreigners and participants of the assault of Kazan in 1552, in the copyists' books of the second half of the 16th century, in cartographical materials of the 16th- 8th centuries, some original Tatar documents and literary works of the first half of the 16th century. All these sources, unfortunnately, contain poor, though interesting information on the history of our city and do not give us an opportunity to reconstruct its original image. For this reason the materials collected in the course of archaeological excavations still remain to be the main kind of sources for the khanate period as well,
Let us try to picture the image of Kazan in the khanate period, at the age of its rise in the first half of the 16th century.
As before, the town consisted of two parts. The fortress (Kremlin) was located on a high cape of the Kazanka River, the northern half of which was occupied by khan's court. The fortress was surrounded from all sides by a vast trading quarter. On the west, the town was protected by heavily swamped and, in some places, impassable Bulak channel; on the north, it was protected by the Kazanka; on the east - by a system of lakes and swamps (Beloye, Chernoye, Bannoye. Poganoye) connected to each other by channels. On the south-east, the town was adjoined By the Arsk field, and to the west, towards the Volga, there was a wonderful Tsar's Meadow, green with thick grass and full of flowers.
The Kazan fortress on the hill (Kremlin) covering the area of some 10 hectares stood out against the general panorama of the town not only because of its beauty, it was also a quite strong fortification. Even Ivan the Terrible, according to a chronicler, having besieged the town and inspected everything, was surprised by unusual beauty of the walls and the strength of the town. According to a contemporary, 4hat fortress was surrounded by wafls made of long and thick oak logs. The gaps between them were filled with gravel, sand and small stones. The thickness of the walls on the side of the Kazanka River and Bulak Channel is three sazhens [6 metres], and these places are unassailable. In the walls of the fortress there were towers and passage gates: the Big (Khan's), Turnen, Nour-Ali. Yelbuga (Alabuga), etc."
The archaeological excavations of recent years made significant clarifications to the annal-istic description of the fortification of the Kazan fortress on the side of the Kazanka. In 2000 and 2003 the ruined remains of the northern tower of the Kremlin were fully revealed. This tower was rectangular; its dimensions were 9.5bl8 m. It was made of large limestone blocks, roughly dressed and bound together by limestone mortar. The preserved height is some 4 m. Archaeologists have provided arguments to prove that the time of construction of the object was not later than the early 16th century. Interestingly, the stones of that tower and the lower part of the foundation of the present-day wall of the Kremlin are connected with each other criss-cross, i.e. form a single whole. From here it becomes clear that the northern wail of the Kazan fortress of the khanate period was made, though not along its whole length, but in some sections, of stone.
The khan's court was surrounded by white stone wall as earty as already in the 12th century. To get to it, one had go through the passage tower rising in the centre of the southern wall that was built along the Tezitsky ditch. It consisted of the khan's palace (archaeologists have established that the Governor's Palace was built on its place in the mid-19th century) and the khan's or palace mosque, the guest house, the treasury, the state archives and library, shrines of khans (mausoleums), houses for guards and other servants, stables and storehouses, workshops ot the court craftsmen. Some of the mentioned structures were found in the course of the archaeological excavations. Thus, the poorly preserved traces of the khan's mosque were revealed near the Syuyumbike tower. Almost close to it. a bit to the west, there were mausoleums, two of which were excavated as early as in 1977. They contained the remains of Makhmoud khan (died in 1467} and Moukhammad-Amin khan (died in 1518). Behind the khan's palace, on the eastern side, there has been revealed a workshop of a coppersmith where a unique jug for hand-washing (kumgan) was most probably made, and the granaries.
in June 2001 restorers and builders have started earth works in the area that adjoins the Syuyumbike tower on its eastern side to improve the courtyard of the residence of the President of Tatarstan. In accordance with the rules, the project had to be coordinated with archaeologists. The earth of the late period, presenting no interest for archaeology, was to be removed from the whole area of the courtyard. Suddenly the bucket of the bulldozer revealed stone blocks of some ancient structure. The work was stopped and we were given an opportunity to establish, for two or three days, the age of the mysterious object. Having transferred all ground-men to the site, we started digging. In ail appearances, the structure dated back to the khanate period. It was in quite a good state and required thorough study. The conflict with builders, who were ready to tear down the ancient structure by bulldozers at any moment, since it was not in the plan, was quickly settled and the excavations continued.
The building was fully revealed in two weeks, its lines were established and premises cleared. The building was a large rectangular structure with dimensions of 18 by 22 m. In its eastern corner there were remains of a round tower with diameter of 6 m. The walls of the building were made of well-dressed stone blocks bound by limestone mortar. Its composition is different from later mortars used by Russian craftsmen. The preserved height of the walls varies between 0.5 to 2 m. in different sections.
The functional purpose of the building has not yet been established. Probably it was used to house the khan's guard, high guests and foreign ambassadors before their meeting with top officials of the state. But anyway, the building was part of the vast khan's palace complex.

After all. the plan of improving the area of the Presidential Palace had to be completely revised and approved anew. Our building was conserved and today it fits in harmoniously with the general ensemble of the former khan's palace.
Beyond the khan's court, the Kazan fortress had several mosques. Somewhere not far from the Syuyumbike tower stood the Nour-Ali Mosque. However, the most distinguishing, for its beauty and dimensions, was the multi-towered Kul-Sharif mosque-madrasah: Kul-Sharif was the head of the Moslem clergy at the threshold of the khanate's fall, the great sayyid. an outstanding public figure and poet. The mosque was buift of white stone (later the design of this mosque was used to build St.-Basil's Cathedral in Moscow to commemorate the victory over Kazan). The ruins of the Kul-Sharif Mosque were revealed by archaeologists during the excavations in the territory of the mini-park located to the south of the Annunciation Cathedral.
The north-west part of the Kazan fortress that was later named the Cannon Foundry housed the khan's garrison, armouries and the arsenal. The other parts of the fortress were occupied by wooden one- and two-storeyed houses. Rich feudal lords, both civil and spiritual ones, and ordinary citizens engaged in defending the fortress and serving the nobles lived there.
Behind the high walls was a trading quarter, which, by mid-16th century, covered the area of over 70 hectares and had the population of 10-15,000 people. It was also protected by the wall with 9 or 10 passage gates. These fortifications consisted of wooden fog structures standing next to each other and filled by earth and stones. Such log structures rested on the earth bank, whose foundation width was up to 15-20 in. and height reached 3-4 m.
The fortified settlement also included the area extending to the present-day Astronomicheskaya Street in the south, limited on the eastern side by the Black Lake channel and the Bulak channel on the west. Outside the fortifications were the Kuraisheva, Armenian Slobodas (settlements), the Old Settlement (Bogoroditsky Monastery), Bishbalta and other suburban settlements. By medieval standards, Kazan was a large East European city. The previously formed principles of the town planning were fixed in that period. The established structure of the pre-Mongol and Golden Horde Kazan was consistently developing.
The dimensions of the medieval town and the pace of its growth can be determined by location of the town walla and their change at different stages of the development. The earliest mention about unfortified settlement of Kazan dates back to 1469, in the description of its seizure by Russian troops headed by voivode Ivan Runo. The fortified settlement was mentioned in connection with events of 1500, when Abdoul Latif khan ordered to build a prison near the town. When describing military actions of 1530, the construction of fortifications for the settlement by the order of Safa-Girey was mentioned: «near the settlement along the Arsk field, from Bulak to the KazanKa, dig ditches around it, behind the prison,"
The fortification line of the quarter can be precisely reconstructed by locating the town gates. The sources mention different number and names of them. The Tsar's Book mentions 10 gates. A Kazan chronicler mentions 10 gates but with the changed names. Also interesting is the description of the siege of 1549 giyen by Haji Serefi, the contemporary of those events, who wrote about how the kazaners were organising the defence of six gates, including the Khan's Gate.
Based on the information from the copyist's book (cadastre) of 1565-68 and other earlier written sources we can identify the location of the passage gate in Kazan of the khanate period. The Secret (Nicholas) Gate corresponds to Nour-Ali (Mouraii) Gate, the Resurrection Gate corresponds to Yeibuga (Water) Gate, and the Transfiguration (St. Sergius) Gate corresponds to Tyumen Gate. The Zboiiiviye Gate was located presumably near the Dimitriyevskiye Gate or on the place of the Pyatnitskiye Gate of the trading quarter (near the intersection of Baturin, Bolshaya Krasnaya and Nagornaya Streets).

The location of the Tsar's (Khan's) Gate can be established quite precisely as at the edge of the Kremlin hill, somewhere near the intersection of Kremlevskaya and Lobachevsky Streets. The Arsk Gate are most often mentioned in sources and can logically fit in the scenery on the eastern side of the Tsar's Gate. This gate was probably located at the intersection of Dzerzhinskyand Lobachavsky Streets. On this side of the trading quarter fortification, in the area between the Arsk and Zboiliviye gates, on the western side of Dzerzhinsky Street, the Kabatskiye and Krymskiye (Crimea) gates were located according to the description of the assault.
The Atalyk and Nogai gates were located on the west, between the Tsar's and Tyumen gates. The location of the passage gates on this side of the fortifications is connected with the description of the siege and the sap between the Atalyk and Tyumen gates. Proceeding from the location of the Tyumen gate (at present, the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenskiye) Gate), the Atalyk Gate had to be located a bit lower, closer to the estuary of the Bulak. The Nogai Gate was located at the intersection of Bauman and Astronomicheskaya Streets, where there was the Nogai Road.

in general, the topography of the Tatar Kazan developmenl and the pattern of streets, both in the centra! districts and in remote areas, were determined by the relief of the terrain. The street that runs along the top of the Kremlin hill from the Tsar's gate to the khan's courtyard was the axial, central one. It was crossed by streets that ran along the natural depressions to passage gates.
The trading quarter was quite densely populated, but, in general, without any definite planning. Dwelling houses stood very close to each other Contemporaries wrote that riding a horse was impossible and the town was very congested. This is well demonstrated by archaeological digs: the width ot streets did not exceed 3.5 or 4 m., and the distance between houses and household outbuildings was not more than 4 or 5 m.
The main territory of the trading quarter was occupied by mansions of ordinary citizens, traders and craftsmen, who lived in ordinary wooden houses. The brick- and log-houses of rich citizens, of course, were more remarkable. Witnesses wrote that courtyards of magnates were very beautiful and worthy of astonishment.
The permanent market was located in the western part of the trading quarter, Between Bulak and the fortress wall, in the area of Tashayak (Stone Bowl) Street.
Closer to water were the workshops of craftsmen, in particular, metallurgical^ potter's sfobodas (settlements], mills and steam-baths. The steam-bath of Dair was positioned by contemporaries somewhere on the banK of Bulak, near the Nour-Ali tower. Not less interesting object, mentioned in sources, is a secret passage to a water spring that was located closer to the Kazanka. at the foot of the Kremlin hill. The Dair's steam-bath was directly connected with arranging the blasts under the Secret Spring and the wall between the Atalyk and Tyumen gates. It is probable, that the spring was a reservoir with water hidden under ground located by the slope of the hill, which was quite usual for medieval fortresses.
Beyond the walls of the trading quarter there were suburban settlements, slobodas. For example, the Kuraisheva Sloboda with the Otuch Mosque and Moslem cemetery was located across the Bulak Channel opposite the Crimea and Atalyk gates. The traces of the latter were found by archaeologists in the area of the present-day Central Market. Further to the south-west were the Khan's (Tsar's) meadows, which were used in summer for holding big festivals and horse-races. Festive events were also organised in the Arsk field. The Armenian Sloboda was situated between the Arsk field and the Close Kaban Lake, at the end of the present-day Kalinin Street. It had a cemetery, where, until recently, stood the gravestones with inscriptions in Armenian, The carpenters' and shipbuilders' sloboda, Bishbalta, emerged in the estuary of the Kazanka. Also in that area, in the cove of the Volga, was a wharf for merchant and war snips.
The level of urban life in Kazan was quite high, which made it Known as a rich and opulent city. The majestic fortress on the hill, khan's court with its splendid buildings, skyward high minarets of mosques covered by polychrome ceramic tiles added peculiar Oriental features to the Town. Foreigners justly called Kazan a wonderful town? capital of the East.


Trade and Handicrafts.

The economic life of the town was closely connected with trade and handicrafts. According to Venetian merchant Josafat Barbara, Kazan was a trading town: «huge quantities of furs are taken out of it to Moscow. Poland, Parsia and Flanders. The furs are brought from the north and northeast." The large volumes of trade can be proved not only by coins and numerous articles manufactured by West- European. Russian. Chinese, and Middle-Asian craftsmen found in the territory of Kazan Kremlin, but even by bones of camels from merchant caravans. Following the traditions of the Volga Boulgaria, Kazan became a large centre of transit trade on the Great Volga Route, it was a point of attraction for oriental and western merchants who came there to an international fair held annually on the Guest Island. A chronicler wrote: »Rich merchants from all Russian lands and many foreigners came to Kazan to trade in numerous expensive goods.»According to other contemporary, merchants came to Kazan from Bukhara. Shemakhi, and Turkey, Armenia, and other countries. Sigismund Herberstein, Austrian ambassador to Moscow, wrote in the early 16th century about the arrival in Kazan of merchants from Astrakhan, Persia and Armenia. Obviously, Kazan had a great significance for international trade between Asian and European countries in the 15th and 16th centuries.

An important place in the economic life of the town belonged to handicrafts, which continued Boulgar traditions. The most important branch of handicrafts was iron industry and met-aiworking. Metallurgists smelted iron, cast iron, and smiths hammered iron tools, weapons and household articles.
Especially valued was the craft of armourers. They manufactured everything: from simple arrowheads and spears to sophisticated chain armours and coats of mail composed of steel plates and rings. Armourers also mastered the production of guns and cast iron cannons, so much needed for defence of fortresses.
Potters were very skilful craftsmen. Their goods: pots, jugs, plates and other dishware of different shapes and purposes were of high quality, had original ornaments and were produced in a wide range.. The high quality dishware was used both at the khan's table and in the house of an ordinary citizen.
Developing the traditions of their Boulgar ancestors, the Kazan jewellers, gold- and silversmiths have achieved a high level of mastery in treatment of precious metals. To produce ornaments, they used such sophisticated jewellery techniques as granulation (filigree), niello, engraving, and inlay with precious stones. The khan's court ordered the major part of jewellery articles. Every new khan ordered rich diadems, vessels and plates made of silver and goid, and rich tsar's attire. The unique Kazan Cap. kept at the Armoury of Moscow Kremlin, still arouses admiration. It is a true masterpiece of jewellery art of the Kazan , Tatars of the first half of the 16th century.
The products of tanners were in good demand in the neighbouring and remote countries. Based on experience of their predecessors, the Kazan master tanners manufactured wonderful footwear, saddles, purses, quivers, etc. The excavations by the eastern slope of the Kremlin hill helped find a tanner's workshop, in which old footwear was repaired and new footwear was produced, intended primarily for khan's guard, A large number of finds were revealed here: thousands of leather scrapings, parts of footwear (soles, boot-tops, heels, etc.). boot-trees, and a quiver.
Builders and architects had a special status in the state. They constructed tsar's chambers and very high mured (i.e. stone) mosques, it is owing to their work that Kazan amazed the contemporaries with its splendour. The architecture of the town combined tbe building traditions of the Bouigar times and techniques of craftsmen that arrived from the Crimea, Turkey and Italy. Numerous minarets of stone and wooden mosques supported the sky. Around them were splendid palaces of the state rulers. The traces of the former splendour are represented by numerous carved decorative stones, ornaments of gypsum decorations of inner decor of buildings, polychrome tiles of external mosaic with intricate Arabic character and smooth lines of vegetative ornament.
Really amazing is the art of stonemasons, who produced gravestones, beautifully decorated by fanciful ornaments and Arabic character, by orders from the well-to-do citizens.
Describing the medieval Kazan, we cannot but mention its rich and spiritual life. Culture of the Kazan Khanate was based on the centuries-old Moslem traditions that established themselves in the consciousness of the people from as early as the time of the Volga Boulgaria. Literacy of the ordinary people was at high level. According to the justly mention of Siglsmund Herberstein, the Kazan Tatars were more educated compared toother peoples of the region. The fact that a certain part of craftsmen were literate can be proved by wonderful poetic lines engraved on a kumgan produced in the workshop of coppersmith Nasyiri at the court of Moukhammad-Amin khan. Stonemasons carved on gravestones not only the names of the buried and sentences from the Koran, but also short verses from popular poetic works. Religious schools, along with theology, traditionally taught the basics of secular sciences.
The Boulgar-Tatar culture of the 15th and 16th centuries absorbed the rich written culture of previous epochs, represented by works of Kul Gali, Makhrnoud Bolgari, Saif Sarai, Kotba, Khisam Kyatiba, etc. The creative work of Moukhammadyar, the author of the famous poems Tukhfai Mardan (Gift of Men, 1539) and Noury Sodur (Light of Hearts, 1549) has undoubtedly become a vivid continuation of their heritage in the Kazan Khanate. His poetry is permeated with deep ethic norms, spirit of patriotism and justice, which is more important than all prayers. Also quite well-known are the works by Moukhammad-Amin. Kul Sharif, Uinini-Kamal. and other poets, whose number was large, Moukhammadyar wrote: What a marvel! So many poets are m Kazan, we don't have enough space in the town.