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Nizhny Novgorod
Welcome to Nizhny Novgorod, the capital of the Volga Region, with its mystical past and sports-oriented future, and host city of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™!

Nizhny Novgorod, is one of the oldest Russian cities; it was founded at the confluence of two rivers − the Volga and the Oka by Prince Yury (Georgy) Vsevolodovich in 1221 as a stronghold to defend the realm's eastern borders.

Folk tales say the following about the birth of Nizhny Novgorod:

A white king sailed along the Volga River with his retinue and stopped at the Dyatlovy Mountains, where he saw Mordovians praying to their pagan gods. And the white king ordered his servants to give the Mordovian elders each a barrel of gold and silver. And so they gratefully sent the king dishes full of bread, honey and salt. However, the Mordovian ambassadors, young men, got tired along the way and ate all the bread, salt and honey. To hide the fact this had happened, they filled the empty dishes with soil and sand, and presented them like that to the white king.

The king gratefully accepted the gifts and thanked the Lord, saying, "Thank you for delivering Mordovian land to my hands," because he'd decided that the Mordovians gave him their territory. And the king went further along the river, scattering sand and earth: wherever he left a handful, a city was built, where he left a pinch, a settlement would be established.

So the Russian people appeared in Mordovian lands, and at the confluence of the Oka and the Volga a "new city" appeared - Novgorod, which later was called Nizhny Novgorod. This was either because the city was in the lowlands with respect to its "older brother" Novgorod the Great, founded in the middle of the IX century in the north-west of Russia, or because it was down river from another "old city."

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Reproduction of a postcard of the early 20th century depicting a Nizhny Novgorod fair, from A. Blinov’s private collection © RIA Novosti

At the beginning of the 19th century, when Nizhny Novgorod became a key commercial center of the country, it was called the purse of Russia. In those days, the Nizhny Novgorod fair had such an important impact on trade throughout the country that it determined the prices for goods.

The construction of Gostiny Dvor at the Nizhny Novgorod fair, an important building for the commercial life of the city, was entrusted to architect Augustin Betancourt, who had already built the Moscow Manege, and later directed the technical aspects of the construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral in central St. Petersburg.

During Soviet times, from 1932 to 1990, Nizhny Novgorod was called Gorky, in honor of a popular writer from the region, Maxim Gorky.

Must see

The main pedestrian street of Nizhny Novgorod, Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, is almost never empty: tourists fill the pavement round-the-clock, enjoying the beauty of the architectural buildings and buying various souvenirs. However, locals like to spend their time here too.

Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street is home to one of the oldest theaters in Russia, the Nizhny Novgorod State Academic Drama Theater named after Maxim Gorky.

Another local architectural landmark is the building of the State Bank, which was built in a Neo-Russian style.

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Maxim Gorky Nizhny Novgorod State Academic Theater of Drama © RIA Novosti. Varvara Gert'e

Pokrovskaya Street is also famous for its iron sculptures. A policeman opens the street, inviting tourists to admire the beauty of the ancient city. A little further away, there's a photographer taking a photo of a dog, a shoe cleaner, a lady with a cavalier, a fashionista in front of a mirror, a doorman, plus a violinist and a governess with a boy sitting on the bench near the Art Crafts store. There's also a friendly Nizhny Novgorod merchant inviting you to walk along the pedestrian street, and there is even a postman with a bicycle near the Communications Center. A terrified cat hangs onto the cornice of the building. However, the most famous sculpture in the city is The Merry Goat. Nizhny Novgorod residents are sure that if you climb on to it and rub its horns, then your wishes will come true.

Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street connects the main sights and squares of the city.

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Monument to the reader in Nizhny Novgorod © RIA Novosti. Mikhail Beznosov

The Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is the pride of the city's residents. The construction of the Kremlin started at the beginning of the 16th century to protect the city against Tatar raids. The two-kilometer long wall of the fortress was fortified with thirteen towers, but now only twelve remain.

Many legends are associated with the Kremlin. It is said that the Koromyslova Tower got its name because a married woman called Alyona, who came out to get water, was immured in it together with buckets and a yoke; it said that this made the walls stronger.

Also, it is said that somewhere among the casemates of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, the famous library of Ivan the Terrible is hidden. However, there is nothing to confirm that this is true and the collection of books has not yet been found; the supporters of the legend justify the failed attempts citing the complexity of the terrain and the proximity of underground waters.

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A view of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin © RIA Novosti. Oleg Zoloto

You can descend from the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin to the bank of the Volga River using the monumental Chkalov stairs. This is one more local landmark: a staircase with 442 steps is built in the form of a figure eight, at the intersection of the lines of which there are observation platforms, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the river and take a much-needed break.

The stairs were built to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943.

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Nizhny Novgorod is among the cities that will host the 2018 World Cup. At the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, located at the point, where the Oka flows into the Volga, six matches, including the1/8 and quater-final matches, will be held.

According to the architects, the new sports arena is the embodiment of the two dominant forces of Nizhny Novgorod's nature − water and wind. Its roof is made of white, light blue and dark blue translucent panels, and seats of the same colors are installed within the stadium basin.

The stadium can hold about 45,000 fans during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. After the tournament, the stadium will be used as an integrated sports center to host concerts, various shows, exhibitions and fairs in addition to sports events.

How to Reach Nizhny Novgorod

By plane: a flight from Moscow to the International Airport in Nizhny Novgorod takes a little over one hour.

By train: 3.5 to 7 hours.

By bus: From Moscow Bus Station to Nizhny Novgorod (6 to 8 hours).

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