The city was founded in 1221 by Prince Yuri II of Vladimir. In 1612 Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky organized an army for the liberation of Moscow from the Poles. In 1817 Nizhny Novgorod became a great trade center of the Russian Empire. In 1896 at a fair, an All-Russia Exhibition was organized. During the Soviet period, the city turned into an important industrial center. In particular, the Gorky Automobile Plant was constructed in this period. Then the city was given the nickname "Russian Detroit". During the World War II Gorky became the biggest provider of military equipment to the front. Due to this, the Luftwaffe constantly bombed the city from the air. The majority of the German bombs fell in the area of the Gorky Automobile Plant. Although almost all the production sites of the plant were completely destroyed, the citizens of Gorky reconstructed the factory after 100 days.
After the war, Gorky became a "closed city" and remained one until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990. At that time, the city was renamed Nizhny Novgorod once again. In 1985, the metro was opened. In 2016, Vladimir Putin opened the new 70th Anniversary of Victory Plant which is part of the Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defence Corporation.
The Kremlin – the main center of the city – contains the main government agencies of the city and the Volga Federal District. The demonym for a Nizhny Novgorod resident is "нижегородец" for male or "нижегородка" for female, rendered in English as Nizhegorodian. Novgorodian is inappropriate; it refers to a resident of Novgorod, on the north-west.
Originally the name was just Novgorod ("Newtown"), but to distinguish it from the other, older and well-known Novgorod to the west, the city was commonly called "Novgorod of the Lower lands". This land was named "lower" because it is situated downstream, especially from the point of view of other Russian cities such as Moscow, Vladimir and Murom. Later it was transformed into the contemporary name of the city that literally means "Lower Newtown".
The city traces its origin from a small Russian wooden hillfort that was founded by Grand Duke Yury II in 1221 at the confluence of two of the most important rivers in his principality, the Volga and Oka rivers. Its independent existence was threatened by the continuous Mordvin attacks against it; the major attempt made by forces under Purgaz in April 1229 was repulsed, but after the death of Yury II on March 4, 1238 at the Battle of the Sit River, the Mongols occupied the fortress. 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.
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 17th and 18th 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.
In 1817, the Nizhny Novgorod 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. When he returned to the Soviet Union in 1932 on the invitation of Joseph Stalin, the city was renamed Gorky. 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.
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.
Nizhny Novgorod is divided by the Oka River into two distinct parts. The Upper City (Russian: Нагорная часть, Nagornaya chast, Mountainous part) 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 (Russian: Заречная часть, Zarechnaya chast, Over river part) occupies the low (western) side of the Oka, and includes five city districts:
All of today's lower city was annexed by Nizhny Novgorod in 1929–1931.
Nizhny Novgorod is the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg. For long time it was the third largest city after Moscow and St.Petersburg.
The area operate in what is referred to in international standards as Moscow Standard Time (MSK, мск), which is 3 hours ahead of UTC, or UTC+3. Daylight saving time is no longer observed.
The climate in the region is continental, specifically humid continental (Dfb), 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. Average temperatures range from +19 °C (66 °F) in July to −9 °C (16 °F) in January.
A maximum temperature of +38.2 °C (100.8 °F) was recorded during the 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer heat waves.
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 companies specializing in the delivery of 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 University, Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University, Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy, as well as Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Information Technologies, 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's 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%). Some of the largest plants include:
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. А fast train transports passengers between Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow in less than four 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. The route has been run using Strizh trains since 2015.
Suburban commuter trains (elektrichka) connect Nizhny Novgorod with Vladimir, Dzerzhinsk, Murom, Kirov, Arzamas, Zavolzhye, Balakhna, and others.
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.
The system of Nizhny Novgorod's bus terminals underwent significant changes in 2015, as the old main intercity bus terminal in Lyadov Sq (just south of downtown) closed, and a new bus terminal opened in Scherbinki, a few miles to the south. Presently, the city's main bus terminals are the following:
Out of the three bus terminals, only the Kanavino station is near a subway line; the other two are connected with the rest of the city by city buses.
Public transportation within the city is provided by a trams, marshrutkas (routed taxis), buses, and trolleybuses. Electric and diesel commuter trains run to suburbs in several directions.
Nizhny Novgorod Metro underground rapid transit system was opened in 1985; it now has 2 lines with 14 stations, connecting all five railway terminals, and carrying 102 thousand passengers daily.
Nizhny Novgorod City Rail is a network of railway transport (S-Train) in the city. Together with the metro it forms a system of high-speed rail transport of the city. It has 2 lines: Sormovskaya and Priokskaya. It was founded on June 24, 2013 on the basis of the Gorky Railway, as an addition to the metro.
The Nizhny Novgorod Cableway from Nizhny Novgorod to Bor across the Volga river opened in 2012.
Nizhny Novgorod is served by Strigino International Airport. Has direct flights to major Russian cities, Europe and the Middle East. 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.
It is unknown when the first aerodrome in Nizhny Novgorod was built, but its location was 0.5 km north from where the "Moscow" movie theater stands today. This aerodrome was named Nizhny Novgorod Airport. In 2011 HC Airports of Regions won their bid on the investment project into Nizhny Novgorod International Airport. In 2012, certain renovations were made in order to more efficiently exploit the existing facility whilst the new one is being built.
In June 2014, the construction of new terminal started. It is supposed to be opened by December 2015 and be able to handle around 300 passengers per hour. The second terminal will be built after the World Cup in 2018, hosted by Nizhny Novgorod among others, and the aforementioned railway station is planned to be constructed during that time as well. The new terminal was opened on December 29, 2015 as the first flight, from Moscow, was directed there. Airport authority plans to redirect all the domestic flights to the new terminal by February 2016 and all the international flights by April 2016.
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.
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 Gordeyevka (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 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:
There are also twenty research institutes located in the city.
Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and some matches will be played at the proposed Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium will be built on an island in the Volga river and will have a capacity of 44,899 people.
Nizhny Novgorod is the center of the television and radio broadcasting on the region and the Volga Federal District. There are local TV stations, the Internet and print media.
In city, there are some popular urban newspapers. Nizhegorodskaya Pravda, Stolitsa Nizhny and Nizhegorodsky rabochiy are Russian-language media headquartered in Nizhny Novgorod. Nizhegorodskaya pravda is the oldest newspaper of the city.
One of the first TV channel in the city is NNTV. It was created during the Soviet period, on the basis of the Gorky television. Also there is the TV channel Volga. The earlier existing most popular TV channel - Seti-NN, but he stopped broadcasting in December 2015.
Nizhny Novgorod television networks:
Nizhny Novgorod radio stations: