Nizhny Novgorod (Ни́жний Но́вгород, Nižnij Novgorod), colloquially shortened as Nizhny, is the fourth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Novosibirsk. Population: 1,311,252 (2002 Census); 1,438,133 (1989 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 (Го́рький) after the writer Maxim Gorky who was born there.
The city is an important economic, transport and cultural center of the nation.
Along with Moscow and Tver, Nizhny Novgorod was among several newly-founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of their insignificance and grew up into (great) centers in vassalic Russian political life during the period of Tatar yoke. With an agreement of Mongol Khan Nizhnyi Novgorod was incorporated to Vladimir - Suzdal Principality in 1264. This situation lasted up to 1350, a period of 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.
After the city's incorporation into Muscovy (1592), 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 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 as simply "Minin Square". Minin's remains are buried in the citadel. Also in commemoration of these events on October 21, 2005 an exact copy of 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: In a white field a red deer, horns and hoofs are black. The modern coat of arms circa 1992 is the same but the shield can be adorned with golden oak leaves tied with a stripe with colours of the Russian national flag.
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 Empire. 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 offical Imperial Russian statistics the population of Nizhniy Novgorod was on 1 / 14 january 1913 97.000 (rounded to nearest thousand). The largest industrial enterprise was the Sormovo Iron Works which was connected by company´s own railway to Moscow station in upper part of Nizhnyi Novgorod. The private Moscow - Kazan Railway Company´s station served the lower part of the town. There were no bridges over Volga and Oka before the October Revolution in 1917. The first bridge over Volga was started by Moscow - Kazan Railway Company in 1914 but finished only in the Soviet Era when the railway to Kotelnich was opened to service in 1927. 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 (GAZ) in the late 1920s, sending along engineers and mechanics, including future labour leader Walter Reuther.
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 Union 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.
An end to the "closed" status of the city has accompanied the reinstatement of the city's original name in 1990. Asociación de amigos de Gorki, a UNESCO recognised organisation from Spain, was the first Western tourist group in the city after cancellation of this closed status.
The region maintains trade relations with many countries and has an export surplus. The largest volume of exports goes to Ukraine, Belarus, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Belgium, and France. Imports come mainly from Ukraine, Germany, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Austria, the Netherlands, China, and the United States.
The stock market infrastructure is quite well developed in Nizhny 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.
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.
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 are:
Gorkovskaya Railroad (Горьковская железная дорога), which operates some 5,700 km of rail lines throughout the Middle Volga region (of which some 1,200 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 Urals and Siberia, as well as to Beijing.
Nizhny Novgorod Strigino Airport has direct flights to major Russian cities, as well as to Frankfurt (three flights a week by Lufthansa). 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 goes to Moscow Domodedovo airport daily.
Nizhny Novgorod is an important center of Volga cargo and passenger shipping. In the summer, cruise vessels operate between Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Astrakhan. In 2006 the small number of Meteor-class hydrofoils resumed operations on the Volga river.
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.
There are more than six hundred unique historic, architectural, and cultural monuments in the city; that gave grounds to UNESCO 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 culture and art institutions of oblast and municipal subordination in 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 Novogorod is divided by the Oka River into two distinct parts. The Upper City (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:
The Lower City (Заречная часть, 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.
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 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 city has many industrial suburbs, such as Kstovo, Dzerzhinsk, and Bor. The town of Semyonov, to the north of Nizhny Novgorod, is known as a craft center for Khokhloma wood painting. Another suburb, Balakhna, is noted for its medieval architecture.
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.
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.
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.