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    Nizhny Novgorod

I think Nizhny Novgorod is one of the finest and most interesting cities Ive seen in Russia. I like it because it has the Volga River, because its not so flat as Moscow or Leningrad, because it boasts the picturesque type of Russian dwellings. Despite all these specifically Russian features, it has the modern, busy and lively feel of an American city.

These were the lines by American writer Theodore Dreiser when he came to the city of Nizhny Novgorod for a two-day visit in December 1927.

Founded in 1221, the city lies where the Oka River mouths into the Volga, 439km, a 5 hour train trip, away from Moscow. It is called Nizhny (Lower) Novgorod obviously because geographically it is located to the south of Veliky (Great) Novgorod, which was also founded long before Nizhny Novgorod. In no way does this fact play down the strategic role the city has played in Russias history.

In the fourteenth century it used to be the heart of a principality uniting Nizhny Novgorod and Suzdal lands and rose to Russias major financial centre at the turn of the twentieth century. Its location at the intersection of the most significant East-West trade routes worked to its advantage. In particular, some say it was the largest wholesale trading place to sell and buy grain in those times.

Even now, it has not lost its importance. Apart from other industries, it runs a car plant for GAZ carmaker, the largest and most popular producer of shuttle minivans in Russia. Volga, a spacious make, used to be associated with luxury back in the Soviet days, mainly used by officials. MIG fighters produced here are also known across the world.

The enterprising city has pioneered in many areas. During the Troubled Times (1603-1613) two of its inhabitants called on the people to save Russia from Polish invaders, a turning point in Russian statehood. Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky led an army that put an end to violence and civil war. Throughout its existence, Nizhny Novgorod also remained a stronghold of Christianity in the mainly Muslim communities populating the Volga banks.

Its citizens Ivan Kulibin came up with a self-made telescope and a microscope, Alexander Popov invented radio. Maksim Gorky, the renowned writer, gave his name to the city in the Soviet times. It was the first Russian city which, in 1881, gained access to telephone communications. It set up one of the earliest musical colleges and held the first arts exhibitions in Russian province.

In 1937, Nizhny Novgorod citizen and Russian pilot Valery Chkalov and his team managed the first ever non-stop flight from Moscow over the North Pole to Vancouver.

The urban cultural environment has been largely retained to reflect both its rich history and evolution. A plethora of sights await tourists staying here, including the Kremlin, the stone Assumption Church and numerous museums lavishly displaying the achievements of local handicrafts. Those who marvel Russias religious heritage will find the Nizhny Novgorod Region very much enlightening.

All in all, it is definitely a worthy stop, especially during boat trips along the Volga.



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Nizhny Novgorod
  (Nizhny Novgorod Region)

Cities of the region

    Gorodets
    Sarov
    Arzamas
    Dzerzhinsk
    Bor
    Kstovo
    Pavlovo
    Vyksa
    Balakhna
    Zavolzhye
    Bogorodsk
    Kulebaki

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