Though the Kul Sharif Mosque was built in 2005, its history goes back to ancient times. The elder sister of the present-day Kul-Sharif was erected in the 18th century and demolished after the city was taken in 1552. The new Mosque is one of the most important symbols of Kazan and the Republic of Tatarstan.
Architects – Sh.Latypov, I.Saifullin, A.Sattarov, M.Safronov
Construction period: 1995-2005
The height of the minarets: 57 meters
The magnificent Kul Sharif Mosque rises in the courtyard of the former Military school in the western part of the Kazan Kremlin. Its white stone, sky-blue domes and golden spires follow the decorationof the Blagoveshchensky Cathedral. The mosque and the Orthodox church face each other as though carrying on a dialogue. And what is important, they speak the same language. But the Kul Sharif Mosque is not only a symbol of peaceful coexistence among people of different national origins and religions. It appeals to remind of the terrible days when the two great nations fought for the right to seize Kazan, of the mosque which stood here four and a half centuries ago, and of an Imam who perished in defense of his native land.
October 2, 1552 was one of the worst days of the 16th century, the century of horrors. After six weeks of hard siege a great army assaulted the city. The latter was exhausted, wounded and bled white. Each defender had to stand against five enemies.
The battle lasted hours and it was obvious that the city couldn’t be held on to. Finally only a handful of defenders survived – they were all whom a once great city could send against the innumerable army.
A small detachment was led by the Khan Ediger. The defenders fought bravely, but were doomed to die. Suddenly, the soldiers, pressing the Khan haggard guard, were attacked by another detachment. Despite the small number of the warriors, the fight turned out to be fierce and brutal. Their dauntless resolution magically helped them to hold the hordes of enemies back and give Ediger an opportunity to fortify his position in the inner citadel of the fortress. They had to pay a heavy price for the exploit – a few minutes later all the heroes were dead. Their sacrifice would not save the city. After all Kazan was taken. It was a dramatic but an inexorable course of history.
The soldiers of the small detachment must have known that this battle would be their last. Actually they were not real warriors but priests and theologians: mullahs, muezzins, apprentices, ministers. Kul Sharif Sayyid was in charge of this “army”, though he was not a real warrior either. Today, people would have called him a prominent public and religious figure. He was also a good hand at writing, but sadly most of his works haven’t survived. The Imam was deeply respected and actively involved in politics as a chief Kazan cleric. In particular, in July 1551, a year before the attack, Kul Sharif came to Sviyazhsk in attempt to achieve reconciliation with Muscovy. But when war became inevitable he urged the people to fight for their freedom. It is believed that Kul Sharif and his companions in arms were killed on the Al-Kabir Mosque grounds, which was named after the great Imam already in his lifetime among the people.
For four centuries, four decades and four years there has been no mention of the great Imam. Only in the autumn of 1995 the President of the Republic of Tatarstan issued a decree concerning the restoration of the Kul Sharif Mosque on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin. The huge construction in the courtyard of the Military school lasted nine years. A grand opening of the marvelous Kul Sharif Mosque was timed to the celebration of Kazan’s 1000th anniversary and took place on June 24, 2005. The project cost 400 million rubles, the money was donated by individuals and organizations.
The event taking place in 2005, probably would have seemed almost a sacrilege to all the parties of the terrible battle that occurred here four and a half centuries earlier.
The construction of the Kul Sharif Mosque, perhaps, is one of the most significant events in the history of the present-day Kazan.
But for us, it is a miracle and a good sign: the Mosque is situated exactly in between the two Orthodox churches – the Blagoveshchensky Cathedral and the Church of Transfiguration. The Mosque and the Orthodox churches seem to be carried away by round dancing on the land where once Muslims and Christians shed each other’s blood. The interior of the church is also deeply symbolic: granite and marble used within the construction were brought from the Ural Mountains, carpets were received as a gift from the government of Iran, the doors were crafted from Krasnodar oak wood in Kazan and the coloured crystal chandelier with a diameter of five meters, weighing nearly two tons was made in Czech Republic.
The construction of the Kul Sharif Mosque, perhaps, is one of the most significant events in the history of the present-day Kazan. It’s not just a reconstruction of the original appearance of the Kremlin and the restoration of the sacred object to the Tatar people – the Kul Sharif Mosque reminds us of the city that Kazan has always been, when not ruined by warriors and tortured by unwise politicians, the city “where there is neither Greek nor Jew”, the city for which all the people are both important and dear, no matter what language they speak and what religion they practice. The graceful, snow-white silhouette of the Kul Sharif Mosque is like a message from the future, promising the world to become tolerant and large-hearted one day.
– Qiblah, that is, the orientation of the Kul Sharif Mosque with respect to the Kaaba in Mecca, was measured from satellite in hundredths of a second.
– The Kul Sharif Mosque can accommodate about 1,500 people. The square in front of the Mosque is capable of holding up to 10,000 people.
– The dome of the Kul Sharif Mosque is decorated with the form associated with “Kazan cap”, the crown of Kazan khans, which was taken to Moscow after the fall of Kazan and which nowadays can be seen in Armoury. The architectural form of the Kul Sharif Mosque is most reminiscent of the church St. Basil the Blessed (originally – Trinity Cathedral) in Moscow, built in honour of the conquest of Kazan.