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About Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod, colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is Russia's fifth largest city, ranking after Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. It had a population in 2015 of 1,272,600. It is the economic and cultural center of the vast Volga economic region, and also the administrative center of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and Volga Federal District. From 1932 to 1990 the city was known as Gorky, after the writer Maxim Gorky. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the old name was restored.

The climate in the region is humid continental and it is similar to the climate in Moscow, although colder in winter, which lasts from late November until late March with a permanent snow cover.

The city is divided by the river Oka into two major parts: the Upper city on the hilly right side and the Lower city on the left bank of the river. The Upper city is the old historical part of Nizhny Novgorod, whereas the Lower city is larger, newer and consists of more industrial districts.

The city was founded by Grand Duke George II of Russia in 1221 at the confluence of two most important rivers of his principality, the Volga and the Oka. Its name literally means Newtown the Lower, to distinguish it from the older Novgorod. A major stronghold for border protection, Nizhny Novgorod fortress took advantage of a natural moat formed by the two rivers.

Along with Moscow and Tver, Nizhny Novgorod was among several newly-founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of its insignificance and grew up into important centers of Russian political life during the period of Tatar yoke. For a short period of time it was the capital of the Suzdal Principality and competed with Moscow for the power in the region. However the competition with Moscow was lost and in 1392 the city was incorporated into Muscovy. Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin was built in 1508-1511 (under supervision of the Italian fortress engineers) and became one of the strongest Russian citadels. There is a legend saying that the project was initially developed with participation of Leonardo da Vinci. However there is no documented proof of Leonardo's work for that project, the only thing the legend is based on is the striking resemblance of Leonardo's sketches and the actual kremlin schemes. The fortress was strong enough to withstand Tatar sieges in 1520 and 1536.

In 1612, the so-called national militia, gathered by a local merchant Kuzma Minin and commanded by Knyaz Dmitry Pozharsky expelled the Polish troops from Moscow, thus putting an end to the Time of Troubles and establishing the rule of the Romanov dynasty.

In 1817, the Makaryev Monastery Fair, one of the liveliest in the world the 16th-18th centuries, was transferred to Nizhny Novgorod, which thereupon started to attract numerous visitors and by the mid-19th century it turned Nizhny Novgorod into trade capital of the Russian Empire.

Under the Soviet rules the trade connections of the city were abandoned and Nizhny Novgorod turned to become an important industrial center instead. During the communist time the city was closed to foreigners to safeguard the security of Soviet military research. The physicist and the Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov was exiled there during 1980-1986 to limit his contacts with foreigners.



Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is a historical center of Nizhny Novgorod, the city heart, and the place that the history of Nizhny Novgorod was started. Nowadays Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is said as the grandest and the most majestic medieval fortress extant in the central Russia. As per the experts there is not any similar construction that would have the same level difference between its two parts (the Kremlin is located on the hill) and so it was one of the most perfect engineering-fortification erections of its time.

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin erection in its present appearance was started in 1500 and lasted for 15 years. About 2 kilometers of fortress walls were erected then. The walls height was up to 22 meters.

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin system includes 13 towers - 5 square towers that have the gates and 8 round ones. Their names are Dmitrovskaya (the central one), and from this tower going westwardly, Kladovaya, Nikolskaya, Koromyslova, Taynitskaya, Severnaya, Chasovaya (a watch-box tower with clock), Ivanovskaya, Belaya, Borisoglebskaya, Zachatskaya, Georgievskaya, and Porohovaya. Some towers of Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin acquired theirs names from the churches situated not far from them, some followed the legends that they related to. Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin towers are 18-30 meters height connected with huge walls (up to 5 meters in width) with merlons. The walls height is 12-22 meters.

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin Today

Today Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is not only the historical centre of Nizhny Novgorod but the location of the city and the region executive, the political centre. Inside the Kremlin walls there are the city authorities, the region governor administration, the region ministries, and the legislation authorities. The memorials, the cultural and religion sights are harmoniously located near the political life - Art Gallery, Mikhaylo-Arkhangelsky Cathedral, Eternal Flame, and the other.


Nizhny Novgorod Fair (old name — Makaryev Fair) was a fair in Russia held annually every July near Makaryev Monastery on the left bank of the Volga River from the mid-16th century to 1816. Following a massive fire in 1816, it was moved to Nizhny Novgorod, but for some decades thereafter it still was commonly referred to as Makariev Fair. It attracted many foreign merchants from India, Iran, and Central Asia.

This fair was a commerce centre to sell up to half the total production of export goods in Russia. The fair ceased in 1929. A society named Nizhegorodskaya yarmarka was created in 1991 with its headquarters in the former main fair building. However, today it is not actually a fair, but an exhibition center.



Nizhny Novgorod has been home to several prominent figures throughout its long history. Perhaps the one of the most influential for Russia as a whole was Kuzma Minin. Kuzma was a native of Nizhny Novgorod, making his living as a powerful merchant during the Time of Troubles, a sordid period of Russian history that began with the death of Tsar Fyodor I. His death marked the end of the Rurik Dynasty, leaving a void in Russian politics that inspired Russia’s enemies, both internal and external, to take action. In the midst of impostors to the throne, famines, and domestic revolts, the Polish-Lithuanian Army occupied Moscow in the early 1600s. Several localities, including Nizhny Novgorod, organized armies to defend themselves. Kuzma Minin was elected to oversee the funding of this army. His activity drew the attention of Prince Pozharsky, who joined his forces with Minin’s and marched on Moscow to expel the Polish-Lithuanian invaders. In 1612, they reached Moscow and turned the tide of the Polish-Muscovite War. Minin and Pozharsky had liberated Moscow from foreign clutches. 

Their feat was commemorated by the construction of the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, which was commissioned in 1812 to mark the bicentennial of this event, and was to be placed in Minin’s hometown of Nizhny Novgorod. However, Tsar Alexander I felt the statue was more appropriate for Moscow, where to this day it sits in Red Square, in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Luckily for the citizens of Nizhny Novgorod, a copy of this statue was erected in 2005, finally giving the city the recognition it had long been due.

The statue is situated on the aptly named Minin and Pozharsky Square, across from the Cathedral of the Birth of St. John the Baptist. Located in the center of the city, the square is an excellent place to begin your exploration of Nizhny Novgorod. The city’s main pedestrian zone begins shortly after the square, where you can enjoy many shops, restaurants, and street performers. 



- Museum-house of the writer Maxim Gorky - a big house with several rooms keeping the atmoshpere of the 1900s.

- Museum-flat of Andrey Sakharov, the father of the H-bomb and human rights activist. The museum is inside the apartment house.

- Russian museum of photography

- Museum of steam engines - 15 engines constructed before 1950 in various countries, located 200m away from the suburb station "Nizhny Novgorod Sortirovochnaya".

- Nizhegorodsky Ostrog (Museum of prison). Built in 1823-1824 and had amongst its prisoners writers and politicians.

- History Museum of GAZ

- Arsenal (National Center for Contemporary Arts)



- Monument to Valery Chkalov, a test pilot, known for his ultra long flight from Moscow to Washington State via the North Pole.

- Maxim Gorky

- Alexander Pushkin (at the entrance to the Theatre of Opera and Ballet)

- Prince George and Saint Simon of Suzdal (inside the Kremlin)



- A big variety of churches and convents.

- Bolshaya Pokrovskaya street and the museum of Russian traditional art on it.

- Varvarskaya st.

- Rozhdestvenskaya st.

- Ilyinskaya st. - buildings of merchant development.

- Chkalov Footway



Cable-car from Nizhny Novgorod to Bor 

Take a ride on the new cable-car from Nizhny to Bor on the other side of the river. The station is a bit hard to find, but if you walk along the Volga eastwards you can see the cables spanning the river. Just walk along the bank and you will find the station hidden behind some newly constructed building.

Cross the river and enjoy the great view. One ride is 80 Rubles.