The Märcani Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Russia, was one of the symbols of the tolerance granted by Empress Catherine II (1762 - 1996) to non-Christian Russian communities at the end of the 18th century. This mosque remains the historical centre of Tatar-Muslim spirituality. The mosque was built between 1766-1770 and was the first stone mosque to be built in Kazan after it was taken by Ivan “the Terrible” in 1552. The building was constructed in the tradition of medieval Tatar architecture with a minaret on the roof and forms in the provincial baroque style. In the decoration of the facades and interiors, the architectural decoration of the Petrine Baroque is combined with the decorative motifs of Tatar decorative art.
The Tatars are a Turkish people who, after the collapse of the Mongol empire (1206-1368), formed a number of khanates in its western part, which is part of present-day Russia and Ukraine. The Tatars converted to Islam as early as the 14th century and built beautiful mosques that can still be found in north-eastern Europe, which is still home to a Tatar minority.
Raižiai is a former Tatar colony whose population, in around 1630, amounted to 44 households. The Raižiai Mosque was first mentioned around that time, in 1663, but the present mosque was built in 1889. This mosque is the only Tatar mosque in Lithuania that functioned during the Soviet era. Renovated in 1993, it houses the oldest known minbar (pulpit), which dates from 1686.
The Iske-Tash Mosque was built in 1802, supposedly on the site of the mass grave of the soldiers who defended Kazan against the troops of Ivan “the Terrible” in 1552. In 1830, the mosque was rebuilt in the Classicist style. For a long time, the imams of the mosque were provided by an important family of the Tatar community of Kazan, the Amirkhanov family, from which the famous Tatar writer Fatih Amirkhan (1886-1926) was descended. Closed in the 1930s, the mosque was used as a school and then as a warehouse during the Soviet period. In 1994, the mosque was returned to its community.
Nemėžis is a Tatar settlement known since the end of the 14th century when Vytautas the Great, Grand Duke of Lithuania (1392-1430) allowed Tatar peoples to settle in parts of his duchy. The Nemėžis mosque is a typical Tatar mosque that was first built in 1684. The present mosque, built in 1909, was much neglected during the Soviet era. In 1978 the mosque was returned to the Muslim community and from 1993 it was repaired. Nemėžis is still home to an active Lipka Tatar community, whose traditions and customs have survived to this day.
During his reign, the Polish King John III Sobieski (1674-1696) allowed Tartars who had fought the Turks alongside the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to settle in Kruszyniany. The present wooden mosque in Kruszyniany was built in the 18th century on the site of an old mosque probably built when the Tatar settlers arrived. The building was renovated in the middle of the 19th century. The mosque and the village itself were designated as a place of national importance for Poland in 2012.
The village's name 'Keturiasdešimt Totorių', which literally means 'forty Tatars', bears witness to its foundation as a Tatar colony at the end of the 14th century. The Tatar mosque of Keturiasdešimt Totorių was built in 1815 on the site of a former mosque dating from the reign of Vytautas the Great. The building has a rectangular plan with a square roof. At the top of the roof, there is a small minaret turret. It is octagonal, onion-shaped, with glass windows and a crescent-shaped spike. The building was renovated in 1993.