Draped like a serpent across a hill, the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin overlooks the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers. This regal structure was constructed between 1500 and 1511, replacing the original wooden kremlin that initially surrounded the city. The Nizhny Kremlin bears a striking resemblance to the Moscow Kremlin. This is because they both share the same Italian architect, and were constructed at roughly the same time. Size-wise, the Nizhny Kremlin is 2045 meters in length; a scant 205 meters shorter than the Moscow Kremlin. What’s to stop this from being the lesser, unimpressive of the two? Simple: the access. Unless you are lucky enough to get a tightly controlled, highly monitored tour of the Moscow Kremlin, you probably won’t be able to go inside it. The Nizhny Kremlin, which is the seat of government for the Nizhegorodskaya region of Russia, is open to the public daily. Between sunrise and sunset workers, school groups, tourists, and townsfolk can all come and go as they please. Inside the Kremlin there are a number of interesting sites for visitors to see and delight in. Here, the cities eternal flame and WWII memorial stand on a hill overlooking the Volga River.
Next to them the obelisk in honor of Kozma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky stands tall, the oldest monument in Nizhny Novgorod.
A stone’s throw away from them is the Archangel Cathedral. Built around 1630, the cathedral is the oldest building still surviving to present day within the Kremlin territory. The cathedral was built where the wooden church was originally erected in 1221, and is the only church on the Kremlin grounds to survive the Soviet Era. The cathedral is open to visitors as a functioning Orthodox church, and houses the grave of Kozma Minin.
Elsewhere on the property is the Nizhegorodsky State Arts Museum in what was originally the palace of the military governor. This museum is made up of two floors. The first floor consists of Russian icons and portraits of nobles and royals. The second floor consists of modern Russian art, and a special exhibits gallery. The rich, bold colors of the second floor serve as a perfect foil to the more traditional, somber first floor gallery; together they for a coherent image of Russian art through the ages.
Toward the Dmitrievskaya Tower there is a memorial to the citizens who supported the army in WWII. Displayed in a row are a number of tanks and heavy artillery including the famous “Katusha” rocket launcher, all of which were manufactured in the neighboring city of Sormovo.
There are a number of things to do literally within the Kremlin walls as well. For instance Kladovaya, or Storage tower is currently a lovely bar with a tavern feel, a far cry from its original use as an armory. The prices are reasonable, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is second to none.
If you need to work off your meal, you can also walk the Kremlin walls. Stretching from Dmitrievskaya tower to Ivanovskaya tower, visitors can pay roughly $3.00 to walk along 886 meters of tower wall. This path affords guests beautiful views of the city, and an experience unique to Nizhny Novgorod. Both ends of this wall path contain small one or two room museums. However, both museums are entirely in Russian.
Dotted around the Kremlin territory are a number of stone monuments. Some are to the fallen people of “Gorky,” the name of Nizhny Novgorod during Soviet rule. Others are in an ancient style- dedicated to the first people of the city, marked with the date of its founding. Outside the walls, a monument to a legend stands next to Koromyslova (yoke) tower. Legend tells of a woman who fought off invaders with her yoke while caught trying to get water for the besieged city. Her attackers are said to have retreated in shock, giving up their campaign instead of finding out ‘what the men are like if the women were so fierce.’ Another version is that this woman was sacrificed by being buried within the tower walls to bring good luck and blessings to the towers construction.
Each tower in the Kremlin wall has a name and a history, each gate a long and distinguished past. Whether you are a fan of ancient structures, soviet era machinery, or Russian art, the Kremlin undoubtedly has something to offer.