Nizhny Novgorod (Russian: Нижний Новгород; IPA: [ˈnʲiʐnʲɪj ˈnovɡərət]), colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with a population of 1,250,619, the fifth largest city in Russia and the administrative center of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. From 1932 to 1990, it was known as Gorky (Горький, IPA: [ˈɡorʲkʲɪj]), after the writer Maxim Gorky who was born there. The city is an important economic, transportation and cultural center of Russia and the vast Volga-Vyatka economic region. It is located about 400 km east of Moscow.
Seat of medieval princes
After the destruction of the Mordvin Inäzor Obram, a hillfort named Obran Osh (Ashli) on the site of the future stone Kremlin, in 1221 a small Russian wooden hillfort was founded by Grand Duke Yury II. Located at the confluence of two of the most important rivers in his principality, the Volga (Mordvin "Rav" or "Rava") and the Oka, Obran Osh was renamed Nizhny Novgorod. Its name literally means Lower Newtown to distinguish it from the older Veliky Novgorod. Its independent existence was threatened by the continuous Mordvin attacks against it. The major attempt made by Inäzor Purgaz from Arzamas in January 1229 was repulsed, but after the death of Yury 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 nine 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 Moscow and Tver, 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 Suzdal Principality was moved here from Gorodets 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.
Strongest fortress of the Grand Duchy of Moscow
After the city's incorporation into the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 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 Vasily 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 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 the 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 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 statue 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 center
In 1817, the Makaryev Fair, one of the liveliest in the world, was transferred to Nizhny Novgorod, and started to attract millions of visitors annually. By the mid-19th century, the city was firmly established as the trade capital of the Russian Empire. The world's first radio receiver by engineer Alexander Popov and the world's first hyperboloid tower and lattice shell-coverings by 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.
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 to Kazan Railway Company's station was in the lower part of the city. Other industries gradually developed, and by the start of the 20th century the city was also a first-rank industrial hub. Henry Ford helped build a large truck and tractor plant (GAZ) in the late 1920s, sending engineers and mechanics, including future labour leader Walter Reuther.
There were no permanent bridges over the Volga or Oka before the October Revolution in 1917. Temporary bridges were built during the trade fair. The first bridge over the Volga was started by the Moscow-Kazan Railway Company in 1914, but only finished in the Soviet Era when the railway to Kotelnich was opened for service in 1927.
Maxim Gorky was born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1868 as Alexey Maximovich Peshkov. In his novels he described the dismal life of the city proletariat.
Already during his lifetime, the city was renamed Gorky following his return to the Soviet Union in 1932 on the invitation of Joseph Stalin. The city bore Gorky's name until 1990. His childhood home is preserved as a museum, known as the Kashirin House, after Alexey'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 street maps were not available for sale until the mid-1970s.
Mátyás Rákosi, communist leader of Hungary, died there in 1971. The physicist and 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 accompanied the reinstatement of the city's original name in 1990.
Administrative and municipal status
Nizhny Novgorod is the administrative center of the oblast. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with one resort settlement and twelve rural localities, incorporated as the city of oblast significance of Nizhny Novgorod—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the city of oblast significance of Nizhny Novgorod is incorporated as Nizhny Novgorod Urban Okrug.
City layout and divisions
Nizhny Novgorod is divided by the Oka River into two distinct parts. The Upper City (Russian: Нагорная часть, 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:
- Nizhegorodsky (the historical and administrative center of the city);
The Lower City (Russian: Заречная часть, Zarechnaya chast) occupies the low (western) side of the Oka, and includes five city districts:
- Kanavinsky (the site of the Nizhny Novgorod Fair and the location of the main train station);
- Moskovsky (home of the Sokol Aircraft Plant and its airfield);
- Sormovsky (where Krasnoye Sormovo and the Volga Shipyard are located);
- Avtozavodsky (built around the GAZ automotive plants);
All of today's lower city was annexed by Nizhny Novgorod in 1929–1931.
Nizhny 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. Intel has a big software R&D center with more than 500 engineers in the city, as well as a major datacenter. In Nizhny Novgorod there is also a number of offshore outsourcing software developers, including Bell Integrator, Itseez, Tecom, Luximax Systems Ltd., MERA Networks, RealEast Networks, Auriga, SoftDrom, and Teleca, and many other smaller ones that specialize in delivering services to telecommunication vendors.
There are twenty-five scientific R&D institutions focusing on telecommunications, radio technology, theoretical and applied physics, and thirty-three 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.
Nizhny 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.
The engineering industry is the leading industry of Nizhny 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 include:
- JSC "Gorky Automobile Plant" - personal cars, trucks, armored personnel carriers, and other autos;
- JSC "Krasnoye Sormovo" - river and sea ships, submarines;
- JSC "Sokol" - airplanes, jets;
- JSC "Hydromash"- hydraulic actuators, landing gears
- JSC "Nitel" - TV sets;
- JSC "RUMO" - diesel generators;
- JSC "Krasny yakor" - anchor chains;
The Gorkovskaya Railroad, a Russian Railways department which operates some 5,700 kilometers (3,500 mi) of rail lines throughout the Middle Volga region and 1,200 kilometers (750 mi) in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, is headquartered in Nizhny Novgorod. Since 1862, there has been a railway connection between Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow. Overnight trains provide access to Nizhny Novgorod from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Yaroslavl and others. 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 Urals and Siberia, as well as to Beijing, Pyongyang, and Ulan-Bator.
The first high-speed rail Sapsan train to Moscow (Kursky Rail Terminal) and Saint Petersburg (Moskovsky Rail Terminal) was launched on July 30, 2010.
Suburban commuter trains (elektrichka) connect Nizhny Novgorod with Vladimir, Dzerzhinsk, Murom, Kirov, Arzamas, Zavolzhye, Balakhna, and others.
The Nizhny Novgorod International Airport has direct flights to major Russian cities, as well as to Frankfurt (five flights a week by Lufthansa), Dubai, Prague. The air base Sormovo was an important military airlift facility, and Pravdinsk air base was an interceptor aircraft base during the Cold War. S7 Airlines and UTair Aviation fly to Moscow's Domodedovo and Vnukovo Airports daily.
Nizhny Novgorod is an important center of Volga cargo and passenger shipping. During summer, cruise vessels operate between Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Astrakhan. In 2006 a small number of Meteor-class hydrofoils resumed operations on the Volga river.
The city is served by the Russian highway M-7 (Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod – Kazan – Ufa), and is a hub of the regional highway network.
Public transportation within the city is provided by a small subway system (Nizhny Novgorod Metro), tramways, marshrutkas (routed taxis), buses, and trolleybuses. Electric and diesel commuter trains run to suburbs in several directions.
The 71-153 model tramcar on Belinskiy Street
71-605 (KTM-5) tram #3416
Tram #1231 (71-619K or KTM-19K)
Tatra T3 modernized
Czech-made tramcar Tatra T6B5
Aerial tramway. Connects the Nizhny Novgorod and the nearby town of Bor, separated by a river Volga
The Nizhny Novgorod Volga Aerial Tramway from Nizhny Novgorod to Bor across the Volga river opened in 2012.
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 (1500–1511), 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.
There are more than six hundred unique historic, architectural, and cultural monuments in the city.
There are about two hundred municipal and regional art and cultural institutions within Nizhny Novgorod. Among these institutions there are eight theaters, 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.
Houses of worship
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 Gordeyevka (now, part of the city's Kanavinsky District), where the Stroganov palace once stood.
Other notable churches include:
- the Saviour Cathedral, also known as the Old Fair Cathedral, a huge domed edifice built at the site of the great fair to an Empire style design by Agustín de Betancourt and Auguste de Montferrand in 1822;
- the so-called New Fair Cathedral, designed in the Russian Revival style and constructed between 1856 and 1880 at the confluence of the Oka and the Volga. The New Fair Cathedral is the third tallest Cathedral in Russia;
- the recently reconstructed Church of the Nativity of John the Precursor (1676–83), standing just below the Kremlin walls; it was used during the Soviet period as an apartment house;
- the parish churches of the Holy Wives (1649) and of Saint Elijah (1656);
- the Assumption Church on St Elijah's Hill (1672), with five green-tiled domes arranged unorthodoxly on the lofty cross-shaped barrel roof;
- the shrine of the Old Believers at the Bugrovskoe cemetery, erected in the 1910s to a critically acclaimed design by Vladimir Pokrovsky;
- the wooden chapel of the Intercession (1660), transported to Nizhny Novgorod from a rural area.
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 organized 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 1881-1883; disused during the Soviet era, it was renovated and reopened ca. 1991.
A singular monument of industrial architecture is a 128-meter-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 labor around Gorky.
Nizhny Novgorod is home to the following educational facilities:
- N. I. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod
- Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University
- Nizhny Novgorod State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering
- Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistic University
- Nizhny Novgorod State Pedagogical University
- Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy
- Nizhny Novgorod State Agricultural Academy
- Volgo-Vyatsky Region Civil Service Academy
There are also twenty research institutes located in the city.