Spatial development

In Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages numerous wars made people  construct their well-fortified settlements on protected by nature tops of steep headlands. Suchwise Kazan was founded by the Volga Bulgars on the bank of the Volga, as a small town built on the northern tip of the Kremlin hill. This elevation is located in 3 km from the confluence of the Volga in the Kazanka river and has a length of about 1.5 km and is cut by numerous cross ravines and hollows. The place is a rare natural hill, which made it attractive to use as a military strategic point on an important trade route.


Confluence of the Volga and the Kazanka rivers (XX century)

Analysis of the placement and operation of the streets of Kazan XI – XV centuries. in historiography it was hypothetical because of limited resources. The researchers suggest their concentric arrangement with many twists and turns. Some researchers point to a continuation of these elements and the structure of the city of the XVIII century.

Economic growth in the Volga Bulgaria and expansion of its trade relations in the XI – XII centuries influenced the further development of Kazan. At the same time Russian principalities intensified its military presence in the Middle Volga, which was connected with the desire of the Russians to take control on the Volga trade. This was followed by numerous raids on the Volga Bulgaria, which have become more frequent in the second half of the XII century. At the turn of the XII – XIII centuries, probably during one of the attacks considerable destruction Kazan has undergone. Perhaps, after these events, the heads of the Volga Bulgaria have decided to strengthen the fort to better protect the northern borders and ensure the safety of the central districts.  The construction of new fortifications for the first time in the history of Kazan was built of stone.

During the Golden Horde period Kazan became one of the major economic and political centers of the Volga region. In the XIV century it appeared on the pages of Russian chronicles, also the city was marked on Western maps. Buildings inside the fort due to the increase in the number of buildings has become more dense. By the end of this period, in the fortified part of the city has formed a street layout, which lasted with minor changes till the end of the XVII century.

In the middle of the XV century. Kazan became the administrative center of the state, known as the Khanate of Kazan. By the time of its formation the size of the fortified part of the city corresponds to the size of the fortress of XII – XIII centuries. Outside the fortifications lived small population. After the formation of the new state number townsmen residents increased rapidly, new territory was masteredthe number of residential and public buildings was increased. Residents of the fortress started to change natural relief in order to develop new districts.

After Ivan the Terrible siege of Kazan in 1552 the process of active population of Kazan and its surroundings by Russian settlers began. Change of cultural traditions formed a new way of urban life. Pskov architects was invited in Kazan for the construction of new stone fortifications and temples.


 Medieval Kazan in winter


Medieval Kazan in summer

Throughout history, Kazan survived many fires, largest ones were in 1774, 1815, and 1825.

By the end of the XVIII century the organization of the streets in Kazan became structured. October 18, 1781 Catherine II approved the emblem of the city, in 1782 – the first master plan that determined development of the city for the next 150 years.


 Kazan 1884

In the XIX century Kazan become an important educational and industrial city of Russian Empire. By 1913 in Kazan there were already 4 higher educational institutions: Kazan University,  Theological Academy, Veterinary Institute, Higher Courses for Women.


Kazan in 1914

In the XX century the city experienced a great shock. Kazan became one of the centers of the revolution.May 27, 1920 was formed Tatar autonomous republic with its capital Kazan. In 30-ies of XX century began intensive industrialization of the city, accompanied by rapid population growth and the expansion of areas.

During the Second World War large factories from western part of the USSR were evacuated to Kazan.  Kazan was a temporary scientific “capital” of the Soviet Union, because USSR Academy of Sciences was evacuation here from Moscow and Leningrad.

After World War II the active development of the city continued, Kazan became one of the largest industrial, scientific and cultural centers of the country, the city’s population has increased by 2.5 times and in 1979 exceeded 1 million.


Up-to-date map of Kazan

At the moment Kazan has a population of 1,143,535, it is the eight most populous city in Russia.



  1. Sitdikov A. Streets of medieval Kazan: localization and identity (2011) (available only in Russian) URL:
  2. Kazan Maps

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