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Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin

By Monika and Petar Fuchs

Note: Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now is not the time to visit this site. There is a heightened risk of political instability and many international consulates have limited presence in the country.

What is the Kazan Kremlin?

The Kremlin of Kazan is one of Russia’s top attractions. It is a historic fortress dating back to the Muslim period of the Golden Horde and the Kazan Khanate. The troops of Iwan IV (Ivan the Terrible) erected the Kremlin in 1552 on the ruins of the residence of the Khans of Kazan. Today it includes Christian Orthodox as well as Muslim architecture like the Kul-Sharif-Mosque (2005).

Part of a white building on the right: not clear if it's a church or mosque because only the front facade is visible. In the background, a tall stone building: a tower, with each story smaller than the one below, topped with a point.

Why is the Kazan Kremlin a UNESCO World Heritage site?

According to UNESCO, the Kremlin of Kazan is the only surviving Tatar fortress, with traces from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The key buildings are the Syuyumbeki’s Tower (17th/18th century), the Annunciation Cathedral (1552) and the Spasskaja (Saviour) Tower (from the 1560s).

What can you expect on a visit to the Kremlin of Kazan?

We were impressed with how closely and harmoniously the two religions of Christianity and Islam coexist in the Kremlin of Kazan. The Annunciation Cathedral and the modern Kul-Sharif-Mosque are just a few steps apart.

Both are highly interesting buildings with impressive architecture. One is reminiscent of the Russian-Orthodox church that erected the cathedral as a sign of their takeover of the Tatar empire. The other one – the Kul-Sharif Mosque – proves that both Christians and Muslims can coexist harmoniously.

Although the Kremlin represents the victory of the Russians over the Golden Horde, today it is a place where both nations coexist in a peaceful way with beautiful examples showcasing the religious heritage of both nations.

A Russian Orthodox church, with a rather simple white facade, but topped with a cluster of onion domes painted blue with small stars and a central steeple painted in gold. A mosque is visible in the background: just its central blue dome and 4 corner minarets.

Is the Kazan Kremlin worth visiting?

Yes, absolutely. The Kazan Kremlin as well as the city of Kazan are well worth a visit. The city of Kazan is a modern city which combines the heritage of both nations beautifully. The Kremlin of Kazan is just one of many sights to be seen in this metropolis. The city itself as well as its surroundings are worth a trip. You can easily spend a week in Kazan.

What sorts of travelers would like the Kazan Kremlin?

Kazan and its surroundings are especially interesting for travelers who are interested in religion, history and culture. The city and its surroundings offer several UNESCO sites and many sights in the city, where you can find out more about the culture and religious heritage of the region.

Tips for visiting the Kazan Kremlin

We recommend wearing walking shoes. You will walk a lot and also spend some time in the buildings. Women should bring a headscarf. These are required both in the mosque and in Christian churches. They are also offered at the entrance, but it’s best to bring your own.

Text: Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin in Russia. Images: above, a square white building with, beyond it, a tall conical building in red brick; below, an Orthodox church, white but with several blue onion domes on the roof, painted with stars, and one golden-roofed tower.

Where is the Kazan Kremlin?

For your GPS you can use these coordinates: 55° 47′ 59.24″ N, 49° 6′ 20.88″ E

Take bus 6, 15, 29, 35, 37, 47, 74, or 75 to Central Station or take the Metro to Station “Kremlin.”

The museum reserve of the Kazan Kremlin is open around the clock for sightseeing. The entrance is via the Spasskaja-Tower (24 hours) or the Taynitskaya Tower (from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM).

For more information about the Kremlin of Kazan, its opening hours and admission fees, see its official website.

Have you been to the Kazan Kremlin? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

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