Home About Russian Travel News Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is a prominent monument of Russian defensive architecture.

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is a prominent monument of Russian defensive architecture.

The Kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod stands out among the numerous Russian Kremlins with a spectacular combination of architectural scope and location - a real stronghold on the slopes of Dyatlovy mountains. In this sense, only Smolensk Kremlin can compare with it. However, Nizhny Novgorod was preserved much better. Not only the Russian name of the Italian architect (Pyotr Fryazin, also known as Pietro Francesco — namesake, younger contemporary and compatriot of the builder of the Moscow towers) affiliated him with the Moscow Kremlin, but also that Nizhny Novgorod’s “power” is sitting in the Kremlin.

The fortress stands on a highland at the confluence of the Volga and Oka. The middle Russian plains almost nowhere else give such a height difference from which the endless expanses of the Volga region open. When looking from here it becomes clear why the princes of Nizhny Novgorod could not submit to Moscow. Independence and self-sufficiency as if laid in that landscape.

The slopes of the Kremlin hills, overgrown with old trees, freely descend to the river, and the feeling of the center of a million-plus city in some places completely disappears. The Kremlin itself is a wall and 13 towers of quite a European type, encircling a huge inner territory. In this space, it seems, fit the whole of Rostov the Great or Suzdal. There is a 17th century tent-roofed Archangel Cathedral, samples of provincial classicism, and the military-governor’s house, which was published from below, looks like a mysterious manor of Catherine’s times in an abandoned park, and the “face to face” is the Art Museum of almost St. Petersburg appearance and content. Pre-revolutionary warehouses, barracks of Nicholas time were preserved, and the House of Soviets immediately entered - an expressive example of Soviet constructivism, resembling an airplane silhouette on top.

True, a banal late Soviet regional building is stuck in the center of all beauty, and architectural and landscape phantoms “as in Moscow” are growing around it. Blue spruces, state monuments, lanterns and paths. Strict prohibitive signs, on rollers and bicycles - is impossible, which is a pity.

Of the many monuments, a new, but painfully familiar monument to Minin and Pozharsky — a smaller copy of Ivan Martos’s composition on Red Square — stands out. She appeared in 2005, and sculpted her inevitable sculptor Tsereteli, who as far as possible restored historical justice. After all, the textbook sculpture of Martos was originally intended for the Lower, but in the end the city got only an elegant obelisk of his work. The obelisk stands in the Kremlin not far from the Archangel Cathedral. That's not all: a single monument to Minin is set in front of the Dmitrovskaya (or Dmitrievskaya) Tower. This sculpture by Oleg Komov replaced the old Bronze Minin, who was sent home, to the town of Balakhna. Balakhna, they say, can be viewed from the Kremlin walls.

Monuments in the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin grew like mushrooms, and as a result an amazing mixture of images was formed. In addition to the heroes of 1612, the hero of a very different era flaunts here - Valery Chkalov of 1940, near which the Chkalov ladder begins, an excellent viewing platform. In front of the cathedral among the birches, the founding fathers — Prince Yury Vsevolodovich and Simon of Suzdal — froze, and saints Cyril and Methodius near the House of Soviets. St. George decoratively fights with a fat serpent on a tall column. Next to the watchtower is the Thirty-Fours monument, at the exhibition of military equipment, granite cubes were installed in honor of the Nizhny Novgorod defense factories, a memorial plaque on the fortification wall reminds of the 1612 militia. There is even a memorial cabin of the submarine C-13. Against the backdrop of the Volga distant eternal flame ablaze. And on the slope of the Kremlin, a huge bell was erected in an iron cage without any explanation — another symbolic monument to the 1612 militia.

From the time of Nicholas I, the military was stationed in the Kremlin, and the headquarters of the 22nd Army left it not so long ago. Instead of the the military, the free territory began to be built up with administrative buildings: for the regional government, arbitration court, and so on. But for now, the spirit of the Kremlin’s liberty has not disappeared, and it’s just nice to walk around - go to the Art Museum, go to some fashionable exhibition at the Arsenal Center, sit on a bench above the Volga, wander outside under the walls or walk the walls. Their restoration, begun in 1949, recently ended with the restoration of the Zachatievskaya tower, which was completely destroyed in the nineteenth century. The ring of the walls of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin again closed.

Nizhny Novgorod was founded by the Grand Duke Yuri Vsevolodovich in 1221, and this date is not subject to doubt. The fortress at the confluence of the Volga and the Oka allowed to affirm the victory over the Volga Bulgaria and launch a further offensive on its lands. Fifteen years later, due to the Tatar invasion, the Russian-Bulgarian contradictions lost their relevance forever, and the new city on the Volga, thanks to its neighborhood with the Horde, grew and became rich. "Nizhny" it was called, so as not to be confused with northern Novgorod.

In 1331 Nizhny went to the prince of Suzdal, who successfully challenged the monopoly of Ivan Kalita on power over north-eastern Russia. This was the beginning of a tough and uncompromising struggle with Moscow. XIV century - the heyday of Nizhny Novgorod: its stone temples are decorated, monasteries grow, chronicles are written. The city becomes the bishop's department, Nizhny Novgorod merchants are found in all the numerous and rich Horde cities of the Volga region. In 1374, following the model of Moscow, which acquired in 1367 a stone Kremlin, the first white-stone tower, Dmitrovskaya, was built in Nizhny Novgorod fortress in honor of the local prince Dmitry Konstantinovich.

In 1392, Moscow, for big money, unexpectedly bought a label for the Nizhny Novgorod reign in the Horde. The local princes did not accept this, many dramas took place, and St. Cyril Belozersky himself sought from the Moscow prince respect for the rights of the Nizhny Novgorod dynasty - but all was unsuccessful. The result was the desolation of Nizhny Novgorod in the XV century. Archaeologists do not even find the cultural layer of those times. Moscow governors built for themselves a small fortress on the edge of the city, on the Settlement outside the Kremlin, and locked themselves in it. And on the site of the current Kremlin - the “Nizhny Novgorod old” - for some time Khan Ulug-Mohammed “sat”. He was looking for a place for his capital and was so noted in Belevo. But then still went to Kazan.

Kazan and saved Nizhny from oblivion and desolation. Moscow, which decided to fight for the championship with other states that grew up on the ruins of the Golden Horde, needed a powerful outpost on the borders with Kazan. They took the matter seriously: the excellent Italian engineer Pietro Francesco (or, according to the chronicler, Pyotr Fransyushko, Fryazin), together with the Russian builders, created a fortress no worse than any Verona or Milan. The difficult terrain - the steep slopes of the coast and the huge ravine-canyon in the middle of the fortress - did not become a hindrance to the device of a huge fortification, in Italian graceful and impregnable. Characteristic features: the extensive use of white stone along with brick, the teeth of the “swallow's nest” (all of them, except for the two remaining ones, were recreated later, the original crumbled and were dismantled in the 1780s).

The powerful Kremlin and the fall of Kazan returned to Nizhny Novgorod merchants their former influence, almost intercepted by Kostroma. No gangs of robbers, running about Russia during the civil war of the Time of Troubles, were no longer an occasion for Nizhny Novgorod to give in to someone. On the contrary: it was here, as is known, that the people of the city decided that it was time to put things in order. And that does not often happen in Russia, brought the case to the end.

Kuzma Minin, who died shortly after the victory, was solemnly buried in the main city cathedral of Saint Savior, and life continued in the Kremlin. In those days it was densely built up with churches, monasteries and residential courtyards. Gradually, its military significance disappeared - the borders of Russia went far to the south and east, and the presence of a fortress ceased to be a condition for the safety of people and property.

In Catherine's times, they are trying to organize this territory with intersected relief with the help of regular planning. But seriously, it gave results later, in the XIX century, when two governor houses, offices and barracks appeared. Under Nicholas I, the Kremlin is perceived not only as the seat of the garrison, but also as a cultural value. They try to keep it. Even the new Savior Cathedral is not built in the Late Classical style that was usual for that epoch, but is brought closer to the Old Russian architecture - the way it was seen in the 1830s. This is one of the earliest examples of the pseudo-Russian style, which unfortunately did not reach us.

At the time of Nicholas II, the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is already a universally recognized monument, the pride of the commercial and industrial capital of Russia. For the 1896 exhibition, the Dmitrov Tower is being restored specifically for the establishment of a museum in it. This restoration has significantly changed the appearance of the main gate of the Kremlin and from a modern point of view is unacceptable, but the tower still stands in the same form. Only from the outside, the icon of St. George the Victorious, the patron saint of Prince Yury Vsevolodovich, was recently placed on it. The Grand Duke Yuri, the founder of the city, is now revered by the Nizhny Novgorod government modeled on the founder of Moscow, Yuri Dolgoruky, and Prince Demetrius of Thessaloniki, to whom the tower was actually dedicated, somehow receded into the background. But the tower remains Dmitrovskaya.

In Soviet times, the Kremlin lost its Spassky Cathedral in 1835 and its more ancient tent bell tower. In their place has grown a masterpiece of constructivism, the House of Soviets. Minin’s burial was later transferred to the surviving Archangel Cathedral.

Join our tours and take a look at this amazing attraction: