Kazan has a long history stretching back as far as the Middle Ages and has developed a vibrant and unique heritage that mixes Oriental and Russian cultures at multiple points in its history. It has been a center of trade and industry for centuries and continues to be a stronghold of Tartar culture today.
Middle Ages: 5th – 15th century
Archaeology of the Kazan Kremlin has revealed that an urban settlement existed on what is now the site of Kazan around 1000 years ago identified by a series of coins, handicrafts, masonry and wooden fencing. The official site of old citadel is currently unknown, although three areas of the modern city (the Kremlin, Bisbalta near Zilantaw monastery, and near Qaban lake) have produced evidence of urban settlements. The settlement acted as a border post between Volga Bulgaria and the Mari and Udmurt Finnish tribes.
In the 13th century, Bulgars and Kipchaks from the area mixed to create a new Kazan-Tartar population after the Mongols ravaged the Bolgar and Bilar home territories. Kazan would become the center of the Principality, which was dependent on the Golden Horde. The city fast became an important trade hub for the Horde due to its favourable geographical position on trade routes passing from East to West. In 1438, Kazan fortress was taken by the ousted Golden Horde Khan, Ulugh Muhammad, who killed the local prince and moved the citadel to a new location; the city then became the capital of the Kazan Khanate.
Tsardom: 16th – 17th century
Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan during the Siege of Kazan in 1552, massacring the majority of the population. For the next few decades the population of Kazan was largely displaced, citizens were deported, forcibly Christianized or relocated to the outskirts of the city to make room for Russian farmers and soldiers. During this period, there were also several fires which destroyed much of the city.
Empire: 18th – 19th century
In 1708, Kazan became the seat of the Kazan Governate after the Tsardom of Kazan was abolished. On visiting the city, Peter the Great made Kazan a center of shipbuilding for the Caspian Fleet. The Pugachev Revolt in 1774 destroyed much of the city although the previous timber structures which occupied the space were soon rebuilt in stone. Catherine the Great also decreed that mosques could once again be built in the city which led the construction of the Marjani Mosque.
Soviet era and World War: 20th century
Kazan was a revolution center in the Soviet Era, and in World War II many factories and industrial plants were relocated to the city. The city soon became a center of military industry producing tanks and planes.
Modern day: 21st century
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Kazan has revived its cultural heritage as the center of Tartar culture and identity. It has since become one of the most important and influential cities in Russia, earning the right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.