The pride of the Old Tatar Quarter is the first stone mosque: Al-Mardjani, erected in Kazan after the city was capture by Ivan the Terrible. The mosque is a two-story building with an annex. In the halls of the second floor, the vaulting is covered with magnificent molded and gilded ornaments, and the patterned stucco on the walls is painted in blue, green and golden colours. The three tiers of the minaret however feature practically no decorative elements.
Al-Mardjani in guides
The mosque was built on the personal order of Catherine II with the help of funds raised by the parishioners in 1766-1870. It has always remained open, even during tough political times. During the construction of the mosque, the city authorities were concerned about the height of the minaret: they believed it was too tall. They wrote a denunciation to the Empress, but she replied: "I have designated them [Muslims] a place on Earth, so that they are free to rise to the sky at their discretion, because the sky does not enter my domain." Therefore, Catherine II earned great respect of the Tatar people, who since then affectionately called her "Әbi patsha" – "Queen-Grandmother".
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