Kazan (Russian: Êàçàíü; Tatar: Êàçàí, Qazan) is the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, and one of Russia's largest cities. Kazan Kremlin was declared the World Heritage Site. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of Tatar culture. Since April 2009 Kazan has the legal right to “brand” itself as the "Third Capital" of Russia, approved by Russian Patent Office. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in central European Russia.
The origin of the name is unclear. The literal translation of the Tatar word qazan is a boiler or cauldron. Alternately, it may have been derived from qazgan, Tatar for dug [ditch].
"Qazan" is originally a name for a special cooking pan, a variant of a wok, but more solid and heavier. It was believed that the city of Kazan is named after this object because of its geographical similarity with a "qazan"-pan; namely the city is situated in a U-shaped lowland.
Another, more romantic legend tells a story of a Tatar princess Soyembika, who dropped a golden dish (golden qazan) in to the river on which the city is located while washing it.
Additionally, Chuvash legends refer to the Bulgarian Prince Khusan (Õóñàí) (Chuvash rendering of the Muslim name Hasan) and Chuvashes call this city Õóñàí after the name of this prince, Hasan.
There is a long-running dispute as to whether Kazan was founded by the Volga Bulgars in the early Middle Ages or by the Tatars of the Golden Horde in the mid-fifteenth century, as written records before the latter period are sparse. If there were a Bulgar City on the site, estimates of its foundation range from the early 11th century to the late 13th century (see Iske Qazan). It was a block-post on the border between Volga Bulgaria and Finnic tribes (Mari, Udmurt). Another vexed question is where the citadel was built originally. Archaeological explorations have produced evidence of an urban settlement in three parts of the modern city: in the Kremlin, in Bisbalta in the place of modern Zilantaw monastery and near the Qaban lake. The oldest was the Kremlin which could be dated back to the 11th century.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, Kazan could have shielded a Volga trade route from Scandinavia to Iran. It was a trade center, and possibly a major city for Bulgar settlers in the Kazan region, although their capital was at the city of Bolgar further South.
In the 13th century, re-settlers came to Kazan from Bolgar and Bilar area, which had been ruined by the Mongols. Kazan became a center of a duchy, which was a dependency of the Golden Horde. In 1430s Hordian Tatars (such as Ghiasetdin) usurped power in the duchy, which was ruled by Bolghar dynasty before.Some Tatars also went to Lithuania, brought back by Vytautas the Great. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania's influence spread as far east as here.
After the destruction of the Golden Horde, Kazan became the capital of the powerful Khanate of Kazan (1438). The city bazaar Tas Ayaq (Stone Leg)' became the most important trade center in the region, especially for furniture. The citadel and Bolaq channel were reconstructed, giving the city a strong defensive capacity. The Russians managed to occupy the city briefly several times, but before 1552 they withdrew.
In 1552, the city was conquered by Russia under Ivan the Terrible and the majority of the population was massacred. During the governorship of Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky, most of the khanates's Tatar residents were killed, repressed, or forcibly Christianized. Mosques and palaces were ruined. The surviving Tatar population was moved to a place 50 km away from the city and this place was forcibly settled by Russian farmers and soldiers. Tatars in the Russian service were settled in the Tatar Bistase settlement near the city's wall. Later Tatar merchants and handicraft masters also settled there.
Kazan was largely destroyed as a result of several great fires. After one of them in 1579, the icon Our Lady of Kazan was discovered in the city. During the Time of Troubles in Russia the independence of the Kazan Khanate was restored with the help of the Russian population, but this independence was suppressed by Kuzma Minin in 1612. The history of that period requires further research.
In 1708, the Khanate of Kazan was abolished, and Kazan became the center of a guberniya. After Peter the Great's visit, the city became a shipbuilding base for the Caspian fleet.The major Russian poet Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin was born in Kazan in 1743, the son of a poor country squire of Tatar origin though himself having a thorough Russian identity and making a substantial contribution to Russian culture.Kazan was largely destroyed in 1774 as a result of a revolt by border troops and peasants led by the Don Cossack ataman (captain) Yemelyan Pugachev, but was rebuilt soon afterwards, during the reign of Catherine the Great. Catherine also decreed that mosques could again be built in Kazan, the first being Marjani Mosque. But discrimination against the Tatars continued.
In the beginning of the 19th century Kazan State University and Printing Press were founded by Alexander I. The Qur'an was first printed in Kazan in 1801, and it became an important centre for Oriental Studies in Russia. By the end of the 19th century, Kazan had become an industrial center of the Middle Volga. People from neighboring villages came to the city looking for work. In 1875, a horse tramway appeared; 1899 saw the installation of a tramway.
After the Russian Revolution of 1905, Tatars were allowed to revive Kazan as a Tatar cultural center. The first Tatar theater and the first Tatar newspaper appeared.
Apres la revolution Russe de 1905, les tatars voulaient reviver Kazan comme un centre culturel .
In 1917 1917 Kazan Gunpowder Plant fire occurred in Kazan. In 1918, Kazan was a capital of the Idel-Ural State, which was suppressed by the Bolshevist government. In August 1918 it was shortly occupied by White Czechs. In 1920 (after the October Revolution), Kazan became the center of Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In the 1920s and 1930s, most of the city's mosques and churches were destroyed (as occurred elsewhere in the USSR).
During World War II, many industrial plants and factories were evacuated to Kazan, and the city subsequently became a center of the military industry, producing tanks and planes.In the late 1980s and in the 1990s, after the dissolution of the USSR, Kazan again became the center of Tatar culture, and separatist tendencies intensified. Since 2000, the city has been undergoing a total renovation. The historical centre, including its Kremlin, has been rebuilt. A single-line metro opened on 27 August 2005. The Kazan Metro has six stations. But there are plans to extend the line in both directions. Kazan celebrated its millennium in 2005, when the largest mosque in Russia, Qolsharif, was inaugurated in the Kremlin, and the holiest copy of Our Lady of Kazan was returned to the city. Major objects like Millennium Bridge also were inaugurated that year. The date of the "millennium", however, was fixed rather arbitrarily.
The city's population is mainly composed of Tatars (about 52 percent) and Russians (about 43 percent). Minority groups are Chuvash, Ukranians, Azeri and Jews. Major religions in Kazan city are Sunni Islam and Orthodox Church. Atheism is also popular. Minor religions are Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Krishnaism and Baha'i.
Russian and Tatar languages are widely spoken in the city. Russian is understood by practically all the population, apart from some older Tatars. Tatar is widely spoken mainly by Tatars. The offensive term Mankurt (Manqort) is used for Tatars who are ashamed of their own culture and language.