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From baroque to constructivism. A guide to the architectural styles of Kazan

Visitors notice that despite the upmost care of historical buildings, the architecture of Kazan has a lot of faces: within a 3-kilometre radius you can come across many styles all at once – be it baroque, constructivism, or even classicism. Here is a list of the most common and prominent architectural styles of the city.

Baroque

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

Legend has it that merchant Mikhlyaev erected a stone cathedral after Peter The Great celebrated his 50th birthday with him. The temple complex was built in honour of the apostles Peter and Paul and is designed in Naryshkin baroque style. It dramatically stands out among the urban architecture with its vivid details - a checkered dome wrapped in a stone grapevine and other floral ornaments. From 1742 to 1842 the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral survived five fires, and in 1950 it was slightly altered to be used as a planetarium. Since 1989 however, the doors of the cathedral have remained open for parishioners.

Location: 21 Musa Dzhalil St

Apanaeva Mosque 

Catherine the Great personally authorized the construction of this stone Muslim temple in Kazan since up until 1773, it was strictly forbidden to build mosques in the Russian Empire. Named after the merchants who donated the money to build it, it combines Moscow-style baroque and Tatar decorative art. The mosque has been called by other names such as Bayskaya (‘bai’ comes from the root of the Russian word ‘rich’) and Peschernaya (which means ‘cave’ in Russian, which describes the terrain where the temple stands).

In 1872, a two-story extension was added to the building, and another ten years later which comprised of a brick fence and a store. Over time, the mosque "grew" two more floors and a third was built during Soviet times in order to create a kindergarten. At that time, the building was stripped of its decorative elements and minarets, which were only restored in 2011.

Location: 27 Kayuma Nasyri St

Classicism

Gostiny Dvor

All throughout history, Gostiny Dvor has been the most important hub of the city since it was this very Tatar market which was at the centre of all key events of public life. In 1797, the building almost completely burned down, and was rebuilt again, but this time from stone. Twenty years and another fire later, the first public museum in the city was opened in Gostiny Dvor. For this new addition, the architects enlarged the windows and installed an eclectic tent, and during the Soviet period two more floors and a residential building were added. As a result, the classicism style can now be viewed only in the central part of the building, where the entrance to the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan is located.

Location: 2 Kremlevskaya St  

Kazan Town Hall

The building of the Noble Assembly (present-day Kazan Town Hall), was built after a major fire in 1854. The architect Korinfskiy planned to erect it as a masterpiece of Russian classicism, however, Italian palazzo inspired details ended up being added to the project.

The pride of the Noble Assembly was the 800-person ballroom, the reception halls and large mirrors. Concerts, charity galas and performances by famous musicians and poets - Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Chaliapin, Mayakovsky and Burliuk were held here. In the 20th century, the building was adapted for public needs - the creation of the USSR was initially announced from here, and later it housed a hospital and a House of Officers. Administration of the building was returned back to the city in 1996, and since then, on the site of a two-story house stands the four-story mansion with Finnish double-glazed windows.

Location: 33 Karla Marksa St

Art Nouveau

Chernoyarovsky Passage

The base of this art nouveau style monument were two houses that were here until the 19th century which gives some insight into why the facade looks asymmetrical. At various times, the building housed a dormitory, a grocery store, and a ‘Bookinist’ - the first bookshop in Kazan. Now in their place, you will find a boutique clothing store, several cafes and a stall that sells national cuisine. The building used to have a staircase and a metal balcony, but now it’s difficult to determine exactly where they were located. The facade has retained numerous fascinating details such as cartouches and flamingos, which are rarely seen in Kazan architecture.

Location: 21 Kremlevskaya St

House of Varvara Druzhinina

A monument of 20th century wooden architecture built in art nouveau style is the house of Varvara Druzhinina located on Koshachiy Pereulok. It survived several fires, exchanged hands numerous times, and was partially restored just two years ago. Varvara Druzhinina - the wife of a famous Kazan merchant who lived here in the 1900s built a ‘tea house’ in the style of the Chinese tea houses. The unique thing about it is that house is one of the few art nouveau style buildings specifically made of wood. Looking forward, there are plans to open a small souvenir shop of Kazan handcraft masters and a tea shop in the building, where anyone can come in to pay respects to the ancient Chinese tea drinking traditions.

Location: 2 Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya St

Eclecticism

Shamil's House

In 1863, the two-story mansion was built for the honourable merchant Ibrahim Apakov on Yunusovskaya Square. He later gifted it to his daughter as a wedding present. The square building looks slightly unusual since it is the only one in the vicinity which resembles a medieval castle with towers and spiers. The facade is richly decorated with balconies and semicircular ledges with windows which makes for a fantastic background for photos.

Location: 74 G Tukaya St

Kekin House 

Leonid Kekin was famous for the production of the best brick in the Kazan province and perhaps that is why the Kekin House has stood the test of time for more than 110 years. The owner himself never lived in the building - its apartments were rented out, and various establishments operated on the lower floors. In terms of technical equipment and materials, this building was considered the most modern in the 20th century, which meant it attracted many people who came simply to marvel at it. Since the building stands on the corner of two streets, each of its street-facing walls has its own street number and the arrangement of balconies and small decorative elements differ on both sides. It combines art nouveau with a gothic finish and Moorish style. A corner bay window is hidden in the courtyard of the building; a subtle ode to medieval castle towers.

Location: 7 Galaktionova St

Pseudo-Russian style

Epiphany Cathedral Bell Tower 

The highest bell tower in Kazan was built in the 19th-20th centuries on the site of a small decaying swamp. The original sketch with the name of the author was lost and historians still argue over who the author of the project really was. The Bell Tower of the Epiphany Cathedral is the main attraction of the pedestrian Bauman Street. According to various estimates, its height is around 72 metres, and the entire decor is made of bricks in a mixture of Old Russian motifs from the early 20th century, and the upper tiers are decorated with detailed patterns.

Location: Apt. 2, 78 Bauman St

The Main Building of the Kazan Art College named after Feshin

A spacious building, the outside of which resembles a decorated old style Russian house, was built by Russian architect Karl Mufke specifically for the art school. The finest materials of the time were used for its detailed decor – for example the cornices were decorated with stucco friezes in the form of palettes and brushes. There was a point in time when the special Metlakh floor tiles were walked on by the famous Russian poet David Burliuk and the Soviet Tatar painter Baki Urmanche. This year, the Kursiv Festival of new modern culture was held here, which included film screenings, parties and art installations.

Location: 70 Karla Marksa St

Constructivism

Mergasovsky's House 

The five-story building near Chernoye Ozero Park is one of the most famous examples of popular Soviet architecture - constructivism. Today the actual building is in a deplorable state, but its magnificent staircase continues to serve as a beloved location for photo shoots.

Several generations of famous residents replaced one another here – among which were Tatar poets Abdullah Alish and Kavi Najmi. The ‘Ugol’ Theatre even created an entire performance based on stories of the building’s tenants, which was performed on site using a projector.

Location: 18/19 Dzherzhinskogo St

Factory of Conveyor Parts’ Communal Living Quarters 

The house with a red star is known to everyone who has been to the Admiralty Settlement and examined its distinctive architecture. The apartment building, located between the helicopter factory and fire station, is still inhabited by locals who are used to their cozy communal apartments.

The building creates a unique composition on the corner of Malo-Moskovskaya and Admiralty where from its tower, two symmetrical wings of the building extend out to both sides creating an L-shape. The building looks striped at a distance, since the strips of brick divide the house into floors and outline the arched open balconies, almost as if they are revealing a window into the life of its residents.

Location: 30 Malo-Moskovskaya St

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