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Encyclopedia > Nizhni Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod
coat of arms
 - Total

260,000 miČ

 - City (2003)
 - Metropolitan

2 million approx.

Time zone Moscow: UTC+3


56°20' N
44°00' E

Nizhny Novgorod (Russian: Ни́жний Но́вгород), colloquially shortened as Nizhny and also transliterated into English as Nizhniy Novgorod or Nizhni Novgorod, is the third largest city of the Russian Federation, coming after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. It is the economic and cultural center of the vast Volga-Vyatka economic region, and also the administrative center of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.



A seat of medieval princes

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 seevral newly-founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of their insignificance and grew up into great centers of Russian political life during the period of Tatar yoke. Its importance further increased, when the capital of the powerful principality of Suzdal was moved here in 1350. Grand Duke Dmitry Konstantinovich (1323-83) sought to make his capital a rival worthy of Moscow: he built a stone citadel and several churches and was a patron of historians. The earliest extant manuscript of the Russian Primary Chronicle, the Laurentian Codex, was written for him by the local monk Laurence in 1377.

The strongest fortress of Muscovy

The Kremlin is the oldest structure in Nizhny Novgorod

After the city's incorporation into Muscovy (1392), the local princes took the name Shuisky and settled in Moscow, where they were prominent at the court and briefly ascended the throne in the person of Vasili IV. Nizhny Novgorod was regarded by the Muscovites primarily as a great stronghold in their wars against the Tatars of Kazan. The enormous red-brick kremlin, one of the strongest and earliest preserved citadels in Russia, was built in 1508-11 under supervision of Peter the Italian. 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 Polish troops from Moscow, thus putting an end to the Time of Troubles and establishing the rule of the Romanov dynasty. The main square before the kremlin is named after Minin, and his remains are buried in the citadel. In the course of the following century, the city prospered commercially and was chosen by the Stroganovs (the wealthiest merchant family of Russia) as a base for their operations. A particular style of architecture and icon painting, known as the Stroganov style, developed there at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Great trade centre

The central square of Nizhny is named after Kuzma Minin

In 1817, the Makariev fair, one of the liveliest in the world, was transferred to Nizhny Novgorod, which thereupon started to attract millions of visitors annually. By the mid-19th century, the city on the Volga was firmly established as the trade capital of the Russian Empire. Other industries gradually developed, and by the dawn of the 20th century it was a first-rank industrial hub as well.

Dismal life of the city proletariat was described realistically in the novels of Maxim Gorky, who was born there in 1868. Even during his lifetime, the city was renamed Gorky and was known as such until 1991. During that time, the city was closed to foreigners for security of the Soviet military research. The physicist and the Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov was banished there until 1986 to limit his contacts with foreigners.

The modern city has a subway system, an airport, numerous theatres, institutes, and museums. Its modern industries are too numerous and diversified to mention; they include the production of GAZ lorries and Volga cars.

City layout and landmarks

One of the Stroganov churches

Much of the city downtown is built in the Russian Revival and Stalin Empire styles. The dominating feature of the city skyline is the grand kremlin (1500-11), with its red-brick towers. After Bolshevik devastation, the only ancient edifice left within the kremlin walls is the tent-like Archangel Cathedral (1624-31), first built in stone in the 13th century.

Other notable landmarks are two great medieval abbeys. The Monastery of the Caves features the austere five-domed cathedral (1632) and two rare churches surmouned by tent roofs, dating from the 1640s. The Annunciation monastery, likewise surrounded by strong walls, has another five-domed cathedral (1649) and the Assumption church (1678). The only private house preserved from that epoch formerly belonged to the merchant Pushnikov.

There can be little doubt that the most original and delightful churches in the city were built by the Stroganovs in the nascent baroque style. Of these, the Nativity church (1719) graces one of the central streets, whereas the Church of Our Lady of Smolensk (1694-97) survives in the suburb of Gordeevka, where the Stroganov palace once stood.

A medieval house in Nizhny Novgorod

The city has many industrial suburbs, such as Sormovo, Kstovo, Dzerzhinsk, and Bor. The town of Semyonov, to the north of Nizhny Novgorod, is known as a craft center for Khokhloma wood painting.

The climate in the region is 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 can be easily reached from the Russian capital by an overnight train, by car or by air. Since December 2002, a fast train has connected Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow in less than 5 hours. The expansion of highways in the region is 8,100 miles, of railroads - 750 miles, and of waterways – 500 miles. Nizhny Novgorod has regular air connection with a dozen of Russian cities, and international Lufthansa flights to the city three times a week. In summer, tourists may travel to Nizhny Novgorod from Moscow and St-Petersburg by passenger boats.

Twin cities

Other photos

External links

Wikimedia Commons has multimedia related to:
Nizhny Novgorod
  • Nizhny Novgorod official website (http://www.unn.runnet.ru/nn/)
  • Nizhny Novgorod Welcoming Center website (http://www.welcomenn.ru/)
  • Nizhny Novgorod City Government website (http://www.admgor.nnov.ru/)
  • Nizhny Novgorod Information Portal website (http://www.nn.ru/)

  Results from FactBites:
Nizhny Novgorod: General information about the city (501 words)
History decreed that the Nizhny Novgorod city should be the "heart of Mother Russia", situated as it is in the very center of the European part of the Russian Federation, on the banks of the River Volga.
Nizhny Novgorod recently regained its original name, having been renamed as Gorky in 1932 in honor of the celebrated author Maxim Gorky, who was born in Nizhny Novgorod.
Nizhny Novgorod occupies the 5th position among most populated and industrially developed cities of Russia, is a center of Nizhny Novgorod region and a recognized capital of the Volga economic region.
Nizhny Novgorod Hotels (545 words)
The Hotel is situated on a high picturesque bank of the river Volga, in the historical centre of Nizhni Novgorod, one of the largest Russian cities.
Hotel is situated on the one of the central squares of Nizhni Novgorod -the Lenin Square.
In 1350 Nizhni Novgorod became the capital of the Nizhni Novgorod principality.
  More results at FactBites »



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