Welcome to Nizhny Novgorod, one of Russia's largest cities and the Volga region's economic and political center. Grand Duke Yuri II originally intended Nizhny (as the locals call it) to be a small Russian fort, but as years passed it grew into a significant stronghold in the Russian Empire's battle for the Volga. Now, it is an industrial and cultural powerhouse! The Volga region's second great river, the Oka, divides Nizhny into two sections: the historical Upper City, which looks more like a nature preserve than a city, and the more industrial, modernized Lower City. Come tour Nizhny Novogorod and see for yourself why it has blossomed into a bustling metropolis!
The Upper City sits upon flowing green hills and holds Nizhny Novgorod's historical center. Its major attraction is the glorious 16th century Kremlin, a giant complex housing an equally as large WWII war memorial. As you walk inside, admire beautiful architecture that underwent supervision from the best Italian artisans of its time. The emerald-colored main tower looms over life-size tanks, planes, ships, and trucks, which constitute the war memorial that was built in the mid-60s to honor Nizhny citizens who fought in WWII. There's also an eternal flame across from a soaring obelisk depicting 17th century heroes Minin and Pozharsky. If you're lucky, you might catch the changing of the guards, a rehearsed and disciplined ritual that you won't want to miss! Afterwards, take a stroll down to the outer perimeter of the fortress, where you will find a path that reveals a breathtaking view of Nizhny and the Volga River.
As the day comes into full swing, the Lower City comes alive. Cross back over the Oka and discover Nizhny's modern side. Nizhny's yarmarka (fair) is a former trade center of Russia and retains its charming old-style market character. You can peruse endless souvenir stands, watch exciting street performances, and even visit the nearby concert hall! As a cultural haven, Nizhny also offers many museums. Visit the Museum of Russian Photography for a taste of modern art, or explore Maxim Gorky or Andrey Sakharov's living quarters, both now informational exhibits. Later, promenade down the Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, a cosmopolitan zone with more museums, architectural masterpieces, delicious restaurants, and infinite activity. Round out your evening with a trip to the Theater of Opera and Ballet, passing by an impressive statue to Alexander Pushkin at the entrance.
Nizhny Novgorod is an interesting mix of modern and ancient, nature and industry. Oh, and expect amazing hospitality at every turn: foreigners rarely visit the city and its citizens are always delighted to interact. Travel to Nizhny for the first stop on your Volga Adventure!