Leaning Tower of Kazan

Estimated Construction: 1552

You've heard of the one in Pisa Italy. Maybe you've even seen it (but hopefully you didn't take one of those terrible pictures where you pretend to be holding it up). But I'm not here to talk about that. Since yesterday, I came across another leaning tower. This was entirely by accident, for I had no idea it even existed, but when I walked into Kremlin of the Russian city, Kazan, I was greeted by a giant, tilted spike made out of brick and with an archway at it's base. It was nothing like the other, colorful, ornate buildings within the walls. It was sparse, tall, and fairly intimidating, as if it was built from another time and for another purpose. I had to know more, so before crashing into a deep sleep from travel fatigue, I willed myself to do some research. Though the validity is debatable, here is what I found.


Once upon a time, in the year 1552, there was a 22-year-old Prince of Moscow named Ivan Vasilivich (later known by the title 'The Terrible') who was hoping to expand his empire past the Volga River and into Siberia. There was only one problem though. His enemy, the Tatars, controlled this region, and their capital, Kazan, sat on bank of this very river. Not known for his patience or diplomacy, Ivan went to war. Fueled by his adolescent angst, he marched an army of 150,000 soldiers to the gates of Kazan and sacked the city, thus absorbing it into his ever-growing territory.

For some men, the takeover of an ancient and powerful city would have been enough, but Ivan wanted more. Being a firm believer of the idea 'to the victor go the spoils,' he intended to take the daughter of the city's Khan to be his bride. Her name was Söyembikä, and when Ivan confronted her with this proposal, she had some terms of her own. She told him that she'd only agree if he built a tower, just for her, taller than anything else in the city. Ivan, known for his affinity and appreciation for large structures, accepted the challenge, and just six days later, the Söyembikä Tower was complete.

Confident, like a cat bringing a mouse it just caught to its owner's doorstep, Ivan prepared himself for his new bride to be, but Söyembikä had one more trick up her sleeve. She told Ivan that she wished to see her whole city from the tower, so she climb to the top. Then, in one final act of defiance, she jumped to her death. Ivan Vasilivich may have taken the city, but he made a terrible* mistake thinking he could take her. And from that point on, Russia, incorporating the Tatars, became the multi-ethnic and multi-religious state it is today.

*yes I did make that joke