When I read about Nikolai Lobachevsky  it is said that the university and Kazan itself was not very important or well known but also when I check Kazan in the 1800 's it was in the top 10 of the biggest Russian city's at that time so that made me wonder

was the university of Kazan a small University in Russian standards in his time and how well known was it compared with other Russian universities ?


1 Answer 1


There is no contradiction in what you read. Kazan university was not well known or important in comparison with Western European universities. But Kazan was one of the 10 biggest cities in Russia. Most of those cities had no universities at all. IN the beginning of 19th century, Russian empire had only 5 universities (Moscow, Petersburg, Derpt, Kharkov and Kazan), none of them especially famous in the rest of Europe.

Even now, Kazan University is mostly known in the West because of Lobachevsky (see, for example the very beginning of the Wikipedia article on this university).

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks , but wondering ,you mention 4 universities but 5 cities $\endgroup$
    – Willemien
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 10:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Some more detail (J. Gray, Worlds out of nothing, Springer, 2nd ed., 2010, viii-ix): 'Athanase Papadopoulos is preparing the first English translation of Lobachevskii's Pangéométrie ... I also thank him for telling me, what I should have known, that the University of Kasan was not a backwater but in fact the second-oldest university in Russia, founded after Moscow and before St Petersburg, and was well staffed from its inception. This, of course, helps explain why Martin Bartels was there and was one of Lobachevskii's teachers.' $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 12:11

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