The Chkalov Staircase, a monumental erection of the Soviet era, is to this day a unique architectural embellishment of Nizhny Novgorod and one of its main places of interest.
Originally named the Volga Staircase, today it is known as the Chkalov Staircase, named after the world-famous test pilot and hero of the Soviet Union Valery Chkalov, renowned in 1937 for his unprecedented feat, being the first man in history to complete a non-stop flight through the North Pole from Moscow into Vancouver (state of Washington, USA). A monument for Valery Chkalov, a native of the Nizhny Novgorod region, is erected on Minina Square at the top of the Chkalov Staircase.
The idea for the construction of the Chkalov Staircase arose in 1939 and belonged to the head of Nizhny Novgorod Aleksander Shulpin, who managed to do something practically impossible: to develop, approve, and achieve the financial backing for such an enormous and costly endeavor during the fervor of the Great Patriotic War. The authors of the monument were Leningrad architects A. A. Yakovlev, L. V. Rudnev, and V. O. Mints. Ultimately, from the moment that the Chkalov Staircase was laid down in 1943 in honor of the victorious conclusion of the battle at Stalingrad and up to the moment of its construction in 1949, the budget of the project totaled at almost 8 million roubles. With the sum of money spent on the construction of the Chkalov Staircase, a colossal amount for the time, the Soviet government was stunned by Aleksander Shulpin and resulted in his subsequent expulsion from the party and arrest. A massive amount of human resources was expended on the erection of the Chkalov Staircase. It is known for a fact that German war prisoners were employed in the construction of the Chkalov Staircase during the years of the Great Patriotic War.
Chkalov Staircase Today
Today the Chkalov Staircase, the longest flight of stairs on the Volga shores, counted at over one and a half thousand steps, is the landmark of the city. The difference in the ascension levels of the Chkalov Staircase is almost three times that of the famous Potyomkin Staircase in Odessa. Descending down the hill in huge rings, it connects the city center with the Nizhny Volgian waterfront. Featuring an amphitheater harmonically imprinted into the landscape of the Volga hills, the Chkalov Staircase is a beloved leisure area for both residents and visitors of Nizhny Novgorod, the viewing platform during holidays. At the foot of the staircase, at the Nizhny Volgian waterfront and the base, the boat "Hero" is exhaulted on a pedestal, a former part of the Volgian military fleet, which took part in the Battle at Stalingrad during the Great Patriotic War years.