The Kazan Kremlin is home to several old buildings, the oldest being the Cathedral of the Annunciation (1554-1562), the only Russian church of the sixteenth century with six piers and five apses. Like many other buildings in Kazan from this period, it was built from the local sandstone and not brick. It would be the work of the semi-legendary architect Postnik Yakovlev, but it is purely speculative. The belfry of the cathedral was erected in five stages according to the orders of Tsar Ivan IV; he imitated the bell tower of Ivan the Great of the Moscow Kremlin and was destroyed by the Soviets in 1930.
The most striking building of the Kremlin is the Söyembikä Tower, which leans to one side and dates from the reign of Peter I. A legend links this tower to the last queen of Kazan.
Another easily recognizable building is the Spasskaya Tower, to the south of the Kremlin, which serves as the main entrance. The Spasskaya Tower is named in honor of the Spassky Monastery, which was once near the Kremlin. Among the buildings of the monastery were the church of St. Nicholas (1560s, four piers) and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord (1590s, six piers). They were destroyed under Stalin.
The towers and walls are white; erected in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they have since been renovated.
There is also the recently rebuilt Qolsharif Mosque and the Governor's Residence (1843-1853), a work of Constantine Thon, today the palace of the President of Tatarstan. The palace is supposed to be built on the site of the palace of khans.
Between the presidential palace and the Söyembikä tower is the palace church, built on the site of a mosque.
The northern wall of the Kremlin is surmounted by another tower, the "Secret Tower", which owes its name to the well it once hid. This tower allows pedestrian access to the Kremlin; the vehicles are admitted only in case of emergency.