The Kul Sharif Mosque built in place of the old mosque of the Khanate of Kazan that was destroyed in 1552 is the great symbol of Kazan and the Republic of Tatarstan. The mosque was named after Kazan’s last great Imam before Ivan the Terrible invaded and seized the city.
It is located on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin - the historic and architectural ensemble of Kazan that is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kul Sharif Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Europe and the principal mosque of Kazan. It is the largest Muslim place of worship in Europe, and serves as home to a rich collection of ancient books. It was named after a legendary Kul Sharif - the Imam of Khanate of Kazan and the hero of the Tatars, who lived in the 16th century.
Originally about 4 centuries ago a legendary many-minaret Kul Sharif Mosque stood decorating the capital of Kazan Khanate. It was magnificent, graceful, beautiful and encompassed a rich library. The mosque carried the name of its last Imam Seid Kul Sharif - one of Kazan defense leaders. It is believed that the mosque had two stories and eight minarets, oriented towards the 8 parts of the world. When Ivan the Terrible captured the city the mosque was burnt down and ruined as well as other Muslim buildings of the Kazan Kremlin.
The reconstruction of the Kul Sharif Mosque began in 1996 and ended only in 2005, just in time for the 1000th anniversary of Kazan. The Kul Sharif Mosque is not a single building. It is a real complex that consists of three parts: a mosque, a memorial stone and an administrative building. The entire complex occupies an area of almost 19 thousand square meters.