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Nizhny Novgorod was founded by Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich in 1221 to defend the Russian frontiers from the Mordvins, Maris and Tatars. The City got its name "Nizhny" because of its location on the lower" lands comparing with Novgorod the Great or with the so called "Old Little Town" that was situated four versts up the Oka, the record of which could be found in literature till the beginning of the 17th century.
The first wood-ground fortress had an extremely favorable military and strategic position - a mountain rising above the confluence of the Volga and the Oka, which was perfectly protected by a deep moat from one side and the steep crumble cliffs of the river bank from the other side. During the first years there were two white-stone cathedrals built in the Kremlin - it testified to the fact that the town claimed to a particular role in the lands of Vladimir-Susdal.
Thre is not much information about Nizhny Novgorod of the 13th century. It is known that the city revived very quickly after the devastation. There was established a "veche republic", such as in Novgorod the Great.
The location of the city determined its future. After the Mongol-Tatar yoke Nizhny Novgorod was constantly mentioned in Russian chronicles; it became a strong political and economical centre of North-Eastern Russia remaining at the same time a spiritual pillar of the Orthodoxy in the Volga region. At that time it frequently became a conflict object in the power division struggle between the gaining force Moscow and Tver. There were times when Nizhny Novgorod was the capital of the Grand Duchy, which existed more than half a century (1341-1392) and was not inferior to Moscow and Tver in striving for domineering Russia. Seventeen times in its history the city was attacked by enemies, not once it was razed to the ground, but it revived again and again.
Since the end of the 15th century Nizhny Novgorod was an unfailing stronghold of Moscow in fighting for the Great River Way. At this time a new stone-walled Kremlin was erected, later it was recognized as an outstanding construction of the Russian fortification art. In the summer of 1509 a foreign architect Peter Fryazin arrived and on the 1st of September he laid the corner stone of the Kremlin wall and the Dmitrovskaya tower. The analysis of the architecture and the construction peculiarities of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin allowed its restorer S. Agafonov to come to the conclusion that the fortress had been made by Russian workmen. The total perimeter of the Kremlin walls contains 13 towers (Dmitrievskaya, Porokhovaya, Georgievskaya, Borisoglebskaya, Zachatievskaya (the latter two are partly destroyed), Belaya, Chasovaya, Ivanovskaya, Severnaya, Tainitskaya, Koromyslova, Nikolskaya, Kladovaya), there was a detached strelnitsa (a special tower for shooting) which was connected with the Dmitrievsky gate by a stone arch-bridge, built across the 30-meter deep ditch, which is destroyed nowadays.
In 1612 from the walls of the Kremlin the volunteer corps leading by Kozma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky took the field to fight the Polish-Lithuanian invaders. History still keeps the patriotic appeal of Kozma Minin to his fellow countrymen: "Oh, Brothers and Friends, all Folk of Nizhny! What can we do, when Moscow state is in great devastation? Let us call all brave men of Nizhny and the reliable noblemen of the Smolensk City, who are not far from us now, in the Arzamas region." The citizens of Nizhny Novgorod supported the appeal with a single heart. The self-sacrifice and the feat of arms of the Nizhny Novgorod levies liberated Russia from the foreign interventionists.
After the Smuta the Volga Region received the possibility to develop agriculture, industry, trade and culture. At that time the Nizhny Novgorod land determined the level of commercial and industrial development of the country. The biggest in the country the Makariev fair was there. The Old Belief movement started to form, leader-ideologists and irreconcilable adversaries of which (patriarch Nikon, Metropolitan Riazanski and Muromski Illarion) were citizens of Nizhny Novgorod. In 1672 the Metropolia was set up.
After Kazan and Astrakhan were conquered (in 1552) by Ivan the Terrible, Nizhny Novgorod became the center of the most significant trade route berween the Russian States and the West. In the XVII century Nizhny Novgorod was the center of boats caravans mass forming and hiring hundreds of workers. Salt, fish and oriental goods from boats arriving from Astrakhan were transfered to smaller boats going up to the Upper Volga and Oka. At that time Nizhny Novgorod became the center of shipbuilding. Crafts were very developed in the city: in 1662 citizens mastered 119 craft professions.
On the 28th of May, 1722 during the Persian wars Peter the Great arrived to Nizhny Novgorod. On the 30th of May he celebrated here his fiftieth anniversary.
In the XVIII century Nizhny Novgorod became an administrative center. From 1714 it became the principal city of the province, from 1779 till 1796 a center of included provinces Viatskaya, Kostromskay, Penzenskaya and Alatirskaya. The transformation of Nizhny Novgorod into the capital of the big Russian region favored to development of education, industry, trade, medicine, culture, sciences and townplanning. At that time a private hospital and pharmacy were opened, public private theaters began to work (the Drama Theatre, the oldest theatre in Nizhny Novgorod, was founded in 1798 by Prince Shekhovskoy). In 1786 a four-class secular principal school was opened in Nizhny Novgorod. In 1792 a provincial printing-house was set up.
On the boundary of XVIII and XIX centuries Nizhny Novgorod developed its cultural and scientific life. The genius inventor Ivan Kulibin lived and worked there. Nizhny Novgorod is proud for its outstanding citizens such as  the matematician N.I. Lobatchevsky, the scientist Damaskin, the eminent teacher I.I. Kugelev, the historian N. Ilyinsky, the writer-traveller V. Baranchtchikov and others.
At the beginning of the XIXth century the citizens of Nizhny Novgorod took an active part in the Patriotic War. The local volunteer corps took part in the march of Russian troops till the absolute victory over Napoleon and were disbanded towards 1815.
Many of the Decemberists were connected with Nizhny Novgorod: M.P. Bestuzhev-Rumin, Alexandre and Nikolas Kryukov, S.P. Trubetskoy, Annenkov, N.V. Sheremetiev, V.I. Belavin, Ph.P. Shakhovskoy, A.N. Muravyov. The first who expressed the utopian ideas of the Decemberist movement was also a citizen of Nizhny Novgorod - a musicologist and musician Ulybyshev.
In 1816 a recently built fair in Makariev was burnt down. The All-Russia trade fair was transferred to the Oka and Volga's on the outskirts of Nizhny Novgorod. The Fair  completely changed the look and lifestyle of the city. Under the leadership of A.A. Betankur a large complex of fair was erected.
That largely contributed to the trade significance of the city and made it the third largest city of Russia. The fair played a great role not only in the history of Russian trade and establishment of the Russian market, but it was one of the largest fairs in the world.
In the 1830-1840s the most significant architecture changes took place. Different public buildings and private trade houses of that time remain the principal architectural background of the historical reconstruction of the city.
On September 2-3, 1833 A.S.Pushkin visited Nizhny Novgorod on his way to the Orenburg region. He vizited the Kremlin twice, crossed the trading Rozhdestvenskaya street, strolled on the territory of the famous Makariev fair. The impressions from the observed sights the poet expressed in one of the chapters of "Eugine Onegin".
In the middle of the 19th century the cultural centres of the city traditionally were the mansions of such outstanding citizens as: V.I.Dal, A.D.Ulybyshev, A.S.Gatsisky. V.G.Korolenko, F.I.Shalyapin and others, who were not born in Nizhny Novgorod, but were known for their work. The city was always famous for its musical preferences, and established in 1870 a musical college was one of the first in Russian province. The first provincial art exhibition was held in Nizhny Novgorod in 1886. Moreover the founding fathers of the Russian art and publicistic photography A.O.Karelin and M.P.Dmitriev lived and worked in Nizhny Novgorod.
The preparation and organization of the All-Russia Fair of art and industry in Nizhny in 1896 gave an important impetus to further development of the Nizhny Novgorod culture: the building of the city theatre was erected in Bolshaya Pokrovkaya street.
In the Dmitriev tower of the Kremlin historical and art expositions were opened, Soon they became the modern Nizhny Novgorod Museum of Art and the museum of history and architecture.  A significant number of valuable memorials appeared in the city at the end of the XIXth century.
In 1883 a Russian merchant N.A.Bugrov offered to the authorities to build up for the mendicants a building in front of the Krestovozdvizhensky monastery.
In 1897 the Duma determined to build up on the Blagoveshenskaya square (actual Minin square) an administrative building. The fronts were decorated in the "Ancient Russia" style. In 1903-1904 under the control of the architect N.M.Veshnyakov reconstruction of the interior rooms was carried out. Speaking about the period of the beginning of the XXth century the interior rooms of the building remain extremely valuable as an object of art. The building represents a mixture of architecture of the Kremlin and variedly styled houses of the adjoining district of the city.
One of the brightest examples of constructions in a neoRussian style is a House of the State Bank built under the project of Vladimir A.Pokrovsky in 1913. In the whole the architecture of the building has no precedents in the history of Russian architecture and is to be considered as a product of artistic fantasy of the project's author. Semicircular towers, a projection at the north front are associated with a defense construction like a fortress or a castle, and the principal square of the building - with gigantic boyars' chambers. The unique interior paintings are made by P.P.Pahkov and N.P.Pashkov.
Since the beginning of the 1930s the city was named after a proletarian writer A.M.Gorky. A stage of the active industrial growth of the city began after the revolution.
The Gorky Automobile Plant was built in 17 months and began to work since January, 1 1932. The lorries GAZ-AA, private cars GAZ-A, M-1 appeared on the roads of the country, and after the First World War - appeared GAZ-51, GAZ-63, GAZ-66, "Pobeda", "Volga".
Almost simultaneously with the construction of the Automobile plant in Gorky there was  launched the construction of other industrial enterprises such as the Plant of cutter machines. After the Civil war the Sormovsky Plant founded in 1849 as a ship building enterprise significantly increased its production. Beyond steam locomotives, wagons the plant began to produce river and sea ships, diesels of high performance. In the 1950s the constructors of Sormovo headed by P.E.Alekseev made totally new type of river and sea vessels - "Raketa" and "Meteor".

The Nizhny Novgorod Mayors

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