Kazan became a center of a duchy which was a dependency of the Golden Horde.
Two centuries later, in the 1430s, Kipchak descendants of Genghis Khan, such as Ghiasetdin of Kazan, usurped power from its Bolghar dynasty.
Some Tatars also went to Lithuania, brought by Vytautas the Great.
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Archaeological explorations have produced evidence of urban settlement in three parts of the modern city: in the Kremlin; in Bişbalta at the site of the modern Zilantaw monastery; and near the Qaban lake. If Kazan existed in the 11th and 12th centuries, it could have been a stop on a Volga trade route from Scandinavia to Baghdad.
It was a trade center, and possibly a major city for Bulgar settlers in the Kazan region, although their capital was further south at the city of Bolğar.
After the Mongols devastated the Bolğar and Bilär areas in the 13th century, either the surviving Bulgars recuperated in numbers and were assimilated by a small number of Kipchaks from whom they adopted their language (a position known as Bulgarism), or Kipchaks and Bulgars intermixed to create the modern Kazan Tatar population.
Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the right to brand itself as the "Third Capital" of Russia.
The city hosted the 2013 Summer Universiade, 2014 World Fencing Championships, the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, and one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
In 2015, Kazan was visited by 2.1 million tourists, which is a 20% increase in comparison with 2014.
The Kazan Kremlin was visited by 1.5 million tourists in 2015 and hotel and entertainment complex with aquapark called “Kazan Riviera” was visited by 1 million tourists. The most accepted legends derive it from the Bulgar (and also modern Tatar) word qazan, which means 'boiler' or 'cauldron'.
One legend claims that the city was named after the river Kazanka, which was named after the son of a Bulgar governor dropped a copper cauldron into it.
There is a long-running dispute as to whether Kazan was founded by the Volga Bulgars in the early Middle Ages or by the Tatars of the Golden Horde in the mid-15th century, as written records before the latter period are sparse.