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Nizhny Novgorod ( ), colloquially shortened as Nizhny, is the fourth largest city in Russiamarker, ranking after Moscowmarker, St. Petersburgmarker, and Novosibirskmarker. Population: 1,311,252 (Russian Census ; It is the economic and cultural center of the vast Volga-Vyatka 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 who was born there.

The city is an important economic, transport and cultural center of the nation.


A seat of medieval princes

After the destruction of the Mordvin Inäzor Obram administrative centre and fillfort named Obran Osh (Ashli) at the site of future stone Kremlin in 1220, a small Russian wooden hillfort was founded by Grand Duke Yuri II of Russia in 1221. Located at the confluence of two most important rivers of his principality, the Volga (Mordvin "Rav" or "Rava"), and the Oka, and Obran Osh was renamed Nizhny Novgorod. Its name literally means Lower Newtown, to distinguish it from the older Novgorodmarker. Its independent existence was threatened by the continuous Mordvin attacks against it. The major attempt made by Inäzor Purgaz from Arzamasmarker in January 1229 was repulsed, but after the death of Yuri II on March 4, 1238 at the Battle of Sit River the Mongols occupied the fortress and the remnants of small Nizhny Novgorod settlement which surrendered without any resistance in order to preserve what had been developed since Purgaz's attack eight years earlier. Later a major stronghold for border protection, Nizhny Novgorod fortress took advantage of a natural moat formed by the two rivers.

Along with Moscowmarker and Tvermarker, Nizhny Novgorod was among several newly-founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of their insignificance, but grew into (great) centers in vassalic Russian political life during the period of the Tatar Yoke. With the agreement of the Mongol Khan, Nizhny Novgorod was incorporated into the Vladimir - Suzdal Principality in 1264. After 86 years its importance further increased when the seat of the powerful Suzdalmarker Principality was moved here from Gorodetsmarker in 1350. Grand Duke Dmitry Konstantinovich (1323-1383) 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 Laurentius in 1377.

The strongest fortress of Muscovy

Church of the Nativity of Our Lady, built by the Stroganovs
Minin Square

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. After being burnt by the powerful Crimean Tatar chief Edigu in 1408, Nizhny Novgorod was restored and 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 1508–1511 under the supervision of Peter the Italianmarker. 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 Polishmarker 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 Pozharsky, although it is locally known simply as "Minin Square." Minin's remains are buried in the citadel. (In commemoration of these events, on October 21, 2005, an exact copy of the Red Square statuemarker of Minin and Pozharsky was placed in front of St John the Baptist Church, which is believed to be the place from where the call to the people had been proclaimed.)

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 19th and 20th centuries.

The historical coat of arms of Nizhny Novgorod in 1981 was: A red deer with black horns and hooves on a white field. The modern coat of arms circa 1992 is the same, but the shield can be adorned with golden oak leaves tied with a ribbon with colours of the Russian national flag.

Great trade centre

This building formerly housed the Great Russian Fair

In 1817, the Makaryev 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 Empiremarker. The world's first radio receiver of engineer Alexander Popov and the world's first hyperboloid tower and lattice shells-coverings of engineer Vladimir Shukhov were demonstrated at the All-Russia industrial and art exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896. According to official Imperial Russian statistics the population of Nizhny Novgorod as of 14 January 1913 was 97.000 (rounded to the nearest thousand).

The largest industrial enterprise was the Sormovo Iron Works which was connected by the company´s own railway to Moscow station in the upper part of Nizhny Novgorod. The private Moscow — Kazan Railway Company´s station served the lower part of the town. Other industries gradually developed, and by the dawn of the 20th century it was a first-rank industrial hub as well. Henry Ford helped build a large truck and tractor plant (GAZmarker) in the late 1920s, sending along engineers and mechanics, including future labour leader Walter Reuther.

The Soviet Era

There were no bridges over the Volga or Oka before the October Revolution in 1917. The first bridge over the Volga was started by the Moscow-Kazan Railway Company in 1914, but only finished in the Soviet Eramarker when the railway to Kotelnichmarker was opened for service in 1927.

The famous writer Maxim Gorky was born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1868 as Alexei Maximovich Peshkov. In his novels he realistically described the dismal life of the city proletariat.Even during his lifetime, the city was renamed Gorky following his return to the Soviet Unionmarker in 1932 on invitation of Joseph Stalin. The city bore Gorky's name until 1991. His childhood home is preserved as a museum, known as the Kashirin House ( ), after Alexei's grandfather who owned the place.

During much of the Soviet era, the city was closed to foreigners to safeguard the security of Soviet military research and production facilities, even though it was a popular stopping point for Soviet tourists traveling up and down the Volga in tourist boats. Unusually for a Soviet city of that size, even the street maps were not available for sale until the mid-1970s. Mátyás Rákosi, communist leader of Hungarymarker died here in 1971.

The physicist and the Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov was exiled there during 1980-1986 to limit his contacts with foreigners.

An end to the "closed" status of the city has accompanied the reinstatement of the city's original name in 1990.


Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast ranks seventh in Russia in industrial output, while the processing industry predominates in the local economy. More than 633 industrial companies employ nearly 700 000 people, or 62% of the workforce involved in material production. Industry generates 83% of the regional GDP and makes 89% of all material expenditures. The leading sectors are engineering and metalworking, followed by the chemical and petrochemical industries and the forestry, woodworking, and paper industries. The first three sectors account for about 75% of all industrial production.

Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast has traditionally been attractive to investors. In 2002, Moody's rating agency confirmed a Caa1 rating based on the region's long-term foreign currency liabilities [10288].

The region maintains trade relations with many countries and has an export surplus. The largest volume of exports goes to Ukrainemarker, Belarusmarker, Switzerlandmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Belgiummarker, and Francemarker. Imports come mainly from Ukrainemarker, Germanymarker, Belarusmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Austriamarker, the Netherlandsmarker, Chinamarker, and the United Statesmarker.

The stock market infrastructure is quite well developed in Nizhniy Novgorod, and the exchange business is expanding. Companies and organizations registered in the region include 1153 joint-stock companies, 63 investment institutions, 34 commercial banks, 35 insurance companies, 1 voucher investment fund, 1 investment fund, 17 nongovernmental pension funds, 2 associations of professional stock market dealers, and 3 exchanges (stock, currency, and agricultural). Nizhny Novgorod Region is noted for having relatively highly developed market relations.

Information technology

Nizhniy Novgorod is one of the centers of the IT Industry in Russia. It ranks among the leading Russian cities in terms of the quantity of software R&D providers . In Nizhniy Novgorod there are number of offshore outsourcing software developers, including Devetel Ltd., MERA Networks, RealEast Networks, and Teleca, that specialize in delivering services to telecommunication vendors. Also Intelmarker has opened a software R&D center with more than 500 engineers in Nizhniy Novgorod.

There are 25 scientific R&D institutions focusing on telecommunications, radio technology, theoretical and applied physics, and 33 higher educational institutions, among them are Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy, Nizhny Novgorod State University, Nizhny Novgorod Technical University, as well as Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Information Technologies (former MERA Networks training center), that focuses on information technologies, software development, system administration, telecommunications, cellular networks, Internet technologies, and IT management.

Nizhniy Novgorod has also been chosen as one of four sites for building an IT-oriented technology park—a special zone that has an established infrastructure and enjoys a favorable tax and customs policy.

Engineering industry

The engineering industry is the leading industry of Nizhniy Novgorod economy. It is mainly oriented towards transportation, i.e., the auto industry, shipbuilding, diesel engines, aircraft manufacture, and machine tools, with the auto industry being the leading sector (50%).Largest plants are:

  • JSC "Gorky Automobile Plantmarker" - personal cars, trucks, armored personnel carriers, and other autos;
  • JSC "Krasnoye Sormovomarker" - river and sea ships, submarines;
  • JSC "Sokol" - airplanes, jets;
  • JSC "Nitel" - TV sets;
  • JSC "RUMO" - diesel generators;
  • JSC "Krasnyy yakor" - anchor chains;
  • JSC "ZeFS" - metal-cutting machines.


Construction of metro bridge, April 2008
Riverside terminal

Gorkovskaya Railroad (Горьковская железная дорога), which operates some 5,700 km of rail lines throughout the Middle Volga region (of which some 1,200 are in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast), is headquartered in Nizhny Novgorod. Overnight trains provide access to Nizhny Novgorod from Moscow. Since December 2002, a fast train transports passengers between Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow in less than five hours. One can continue from Nizhny Novgorod eastward along the Trans-Siberian Railway, with direct trains to major cities in the Uralsmarker and Siberiamarker, as well as to Beijing.

Nizhny Novgorod Strigino Airportmarker has direct flights to major Russian cities, as well as to Frankfurtmarker (three flights a week by Lufthansamarker). The air base Sormovomarker was an important military airlift facility, and Pravdinsk air basemarker was an interceptor aircraft base during the Cold War. S7 Airlines goes to Moscow Domodedovo airportmarker daily.

Nizhny Novgorod is an important center of Volga cargo and passenger shipping. In the summer, cruise vessels operate between Nizhny Novgorod, Moscowmarker, Saint Petersburgmarker, and Astrakhanmarker. In 2006 a small number of Meteor-class hydrofoils resumed operations on the Volga river.

The city is served by Russian highway M-7 (Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod – Kazanmarker – Ufamarker), and is a hub of the regional highway network.

Public transport within the city is provided by a small subway system (Nizhny Novgorod Metro), tramways, marshrutkas or minibuses, buses and trolleybuses. Electric and diesel commuter trains run to suburbs in several directions.

Free shuttle buses run from several points in the city to the MEGA shopping complex, which opened in October 2006 in Fedyakovomarker, a few kilometers to the east of the Nizhny Novgorod city line.

City layout

Inside Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin
Nizhny Novgorod Panorama opposite side from river Oka bank
Nizhny Novgorod Technical University

Nizhny Novgorod is divided by the Oka River into two distinct parts. The Upper City ( , Nagornaya Chast) is located on the hilly eastern (right) bank of the Oka. It includes three of the eight city districts into which the city is administratively divided:

The Lower City ( , Zarechnaya Chast) occupies the low (western) side of the Oka, and includes five city districts: All of the today's lower city was annexed to Nizhny Novgorod in 1929–1931.

The city has many industrial suburbs, such as Kstovomarker, Dzerzhinskmarker, and Bormarker. The town of Semyonov, to the north of Nizhny Novgorod, is known as a craft center for Khokhloma wood painting. Another suburb, Balakhnamarker, is noted for its medieval architecture.

Main sights

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.

Cultural features

Planetarium and circus

There are more than six hundred unique historic, architectural, and cultural monuments in the city; that gave grounds to UNESCOmarker to include Nizhny Novgorod in the list of 100 cities of the world which are of great historical and cultural value.

There are about two hundred municipal and regional art and cultural institutions within Nizhny Novgorod. Among these institutions there are eight theatres, five concert halls, ninety-seven libraries (with branches), seventeen movie theaters (including five movie theaters for children), twenty-five institutions of children optional education, eight museums (sixteen including branches), and seven parks.

Nizhny Novgorod art gallery

The art gallery in Nizhny Novgorod is a large and important art gallery and museums of human history and culture.

Nizhny Novgorod has a great and extraordinary art gallery with more than 12,000 exhibits, an enormous collection of works by Russian artists such as Viktor Vasnetsov, Karl Briullov, Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Kramskoi, Ilya Yefimovich Repin, Isaak Iljitsch Lewitan, Vasily Surikov, Ivan Aivazovsky, there are also greater collections of works by Boris Kustodiev and Nicholas Roerich, not only Russian art is part of the exhibition it include also a vast accumulation of Western European art like works by David Teniers the Younger, Bernardo Bellotto, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Pieter de Grebber, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and lot more.

Finally what makes this gallery extremely important is the amazing collection Russian avant-garde with works by Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov and so on. There is also collection of East Asian art.



Other notable landmarks are the two great medieval abbeys. The Pechersky Ascension Monastery features the austere five-domed cathedral (1632) and two rare churches surmounted 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 Virgin's Nativity Church (1719) graces one of the central streets, whereas the Church of Our Lady of Smolensk (1694-97) survives in the former village of Gordeevka (now, part of the city's Kanavinsky District), where the Stroganov palace once stood.

Other notable churches include:

There is also a mosque in Sennaya Square, where the Muslim populations of the city go for Friday prayers, Islamic activities and activities which are organised by the mosque. There is also a small shop to buy halal meats. Most of the Muslims in this city are Tatars.

The centrally located Nizhny Novgorod Synagogue was built in 1881-83; disused during the Soviet era, it was renovated and reopened ca. 1991.


A singular monument of industrial architecture is a 128-metre-high open-work hyperboloid tower built on the bank of the Oka near Dzerzhinsk as part of a powerline river crossing by the eminent engineer and scientist Vladimir Shukhov in 1929.

A staircase connecting the Kremlin with the Volga river offers a panoramic view of the surroundings. The staircase itself was constructed in the late 1940s by German prisoners of war forced to labour around Gorky.


Nizhny Novgorod is home to the following educational facilities:

There are also twenty research institutes located in the city.


The city ice hockey team Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod play in the KHL. The city is represented at football by FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod who play in the Russian First Division. The other footbal team from Nizhny Novgrod, FC Lokomotiv Nizhny Novgorod who had played in the Russian Premier League and Intertoto Cup became defunct in 2006. The city field hockey team are HC Start. Their bandy team Start plays in the highest division of the Russian Bandy League. In 2002 they reached the final against Vodnik. Both matches were played in Arkhangelskmarker due to warm weather. After that an artificial ice was built.

Notable people


  • Population (Jan 2009): 1,272,599
  • Births (2008): 12,969
  • Deaths (2008): 20,757

International relations

Volga riverside view

Twin towns — Sister cities

Nizhny Novgorod is twinned with:


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


  • Munro-Butler-Johnstone, Henry Alexander, A trip up the Volga to the fair of Nijni-Novgorod, Oxford: J. Parker and co., 1876.
  • Fitzpatrick, Anne Lincoln, The Great Russian Fair: Nizhnii Novgorod, 1840-90, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, in association with St. Antony’s College, Oxford, 1990. ISBN 0-333-42437-9


External links


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