Suyumbike Tower, the legendary seven-storey leaning tower, is an architectural symbol of Kazan. Kazan is recognized in the photos by the staged outlines of its tiers and its spire, heading toward the sky.
The origin of the tower is surrounded by legends. The most famous legend revolves around the story of Ivan the Terrible, who desired so much to have beautiful Tatar Suyumbike, the widow of Khan Girei, as his wife, that he promised to fulfill her seemingly impossible conditions. In seven days, he built a seven-storey tower for Suyumbike. The Queen climbed the wooden stairs of the Tower, ascended to the top of the observation deck, surveyed the dear city, bade farewell to her people - and dove down like a bird. The legend of the unbreakable spirit of the proud Tatars is especially liked by the natives of Kazan, and they often tell this story to their visitors.
In reality, Queen Suyumbike did not jump from the Tower, but was taken hostage, brought to Moscow and was forcefully married. Even though Ivan IV was capable of ordering his masters to build a tower in a matter of days, the erected buildings were typically wooden. Historians believe that the Tower was created in the 17th or 18th century, although there is a speculation that it was built on the site of an ancient lookout tower of Khans’ times. It is not possible to refine the data, because the Kremlin order archive is hopelessly lost in the depths of time.
Another legend was dedicated to the Golden Apple that crowns the green spire of the Tower. In the 19th century, the rumors that the Apple was made of gold and contained critical for Tatars documents inside, made the Governor order to remove the Apple and find out what it was hiding. The Apple turned out to be made of brass, and there were no documents inside. The holes that the Apple had acquired because of its old age, served as a reason for the Governor to restore the artifact, and for the Tatar community to believe that the documents were gone with the wind and sooner or later will be found.
Now the Apple is crowned by the Crescent Moon, which replaced the double-headed eagle in 1918.
The Tower was always located at a distance from the walls of the Kremlin, was not a fortification and for many years served as a lookout tower. Residents of Kazan have long sought to return the status of the observation deck to the Tower. No other building offers such a nice view of the historic center of the city.
But the angle of the leaning tower is a matter of concern: it leans in the direction of North-East by almost two meters. In the early 20th century, the first tier of the Tower was restrained by a metal hoop, which did not make it more beautiful, but rather saved it from destruction.
Today, the foundation of the Tower was strengthened, and the Tower itself has been restored. The inability to get inside makes the walls and wooden railings of the Suyumbike Tower very attractive for graffiti application. Some of the graffiti, scraped with love, date back to the 19th century.
Natives of Kazan and everyone who loves the capital of Tatarstan are hoping that in the 21st century, the Tower will once again be opened to the public and will remain a symbol of aspiration, beauty and durability.