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Polyhedra in architecture. Part 4. Tower Syuyumbike

The most famous building in Kazan (city in Russia) and its main symbol is Tower Syuyumbike. It is impossible to imagine Kazan without it, as one cannot imagine Paris without the Eiffel tower, London without the Tower and Rome without  the Colosseum.

 

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 Syuyumbike tower in Kazan has seven levels, which are built of red brick; the bottom three tiers are tetrahedra reduced in height and width. They serve as a base for two octagons set on them. The top of the tower consists of a faceted tent made of bricks in the form of a truncated octagonal pyramid and a guardroom above it. On the very top one can see a steeple with a gilded crescent set on the apple. The lower tier of the building has two pillars connected by a cylindrical arch over the passage. 

 

The facades of tetrahedra and octahedral on each level is decorated in a different ways. One can see belts with curbstones or simple overlap. The facets of all the tiers are underlined by thin blades or rollers. Small windows and medium-sized doorways have three-centered arches and have rectangular plat bands. On the east and west facades one can see pylons, which reflect the oriental theme and resemble stalactites.

The main feature of the tower Syuyumbike in Kazan is that it is also one of the few leaning towers found in the world. Its height is 58 meters, which is two meters above the Tower of Pisa. It began to lean to the east just right after the construction was finished, because its western side, built on the foundations of the old watchtower, proved to be more stable. By 1930, the deviation from the axis of its apex reached 128 centimeters. Some restoration work was conducted in the 1990s which suspended its further leaning.

Syuyumbike tower in Kazan was built in the second half of the XVII century - the beginning of the XVIII century and was intended as a watch-tower at the entrance to the yard of commandant's house. The name of the tower is linked to the name of the famous Tsar’s wife in Kazan, Syuyumbike. And its origin is covered with many myths and legends.

 Legends of the Tower Syuyumbike

There are several legends, one way or another connected with the tower Syuyumbike. All of them are related to a disputed history of the construction of this tower; however, it is considered that none of them is true.

The most popular and favorite legend among the tourists is the one telling that the tower was built on the request of Syuyumbike. According to it Tsar Ivan the Terrible was forcing Syuyumbike to marry him when he conquered Kazan. She understood that in case of refusal, Ivan the Terrible will destroy the entire Tatar people in anger, but it was essentially for her not to marry him. So she asked the conqueror to build a tower with seven tiers in seven days. However, when her condition was satisfied, she climbed to the seventh floor of the tower and jumped off, what caused her death. That is why the tower was named after her. 

According to another legend, the reason for the construction of the tower Syuyumbike was more prosaic. Syuyumbike ordered to build a tower in honor of her second husband, Safa Giray, when he died.

There is also an interesting legend concerning a gilded ball on the top of the tower that was there originally. According to that legend, there were chronicles of the Khanate of Kazan kept in there, written by the Khans themselves. However, nothing was found while studying the ball, but some say that there were wholes in that ball which might mean that documents had been stolen. 

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