Suyumbike Tower – Kazan, Russia - Atlas Obscura

Suyumbike Tower

Russia's own leaning tower was built on a tragic historical fable. 


Suyumbike Tower in the Kazan Kremlin is a gorgeous piece of historic Russian architecture with a tragic story in its past and a growing slant in its future. 

According to legend, after Ivan the Terrible seized Kazan, he wanted to celebrate by taking the deposed Khan’s niece, Suyumbike, as his bride. The beautiful Princess Suyumbike initially refused, saying she would only agree to marry him if he could build a tower higher than either of them had ever seen. The conquering Tsar did just that, erecting the spire in just six days. After it was completed, Suyumbike said she wanted to look out upon the city from the high tower. When she reached the top however, the princess jumped to her death. Ivan may have taken the city but he could never have Suyumbike’s heart.

Despite the dramatic origin story the tower was not actually constructed until at least 100 years after Ivan’s conquest of Kazan in 1552. Consisting of six widening tiers built on a gated arch, the 58-meter baked brick tower stands as Kazan’s most iconic building. The actual age of the tower is unknown as all relevant documents were destroyed in a fire, but it is likely that the tower was built as part of a strengthening of the Kremlin’s defenses in the early 18th century in response to multiple rebellions. In recent years the tower’s weak foundation has begun to sink giving the tower a noticeable lean that will likely become more dramatic in the coming years.

The entire Kazan Kremlin was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, and Suyumbike Tower is easily the most iconic of the now protected buildings. Despite the tragic love story behind this tower, the world’s love affair with the site isn’t ending any time soon.

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