Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin

VladimirSmirnov/ TASS

The Kremlin, the cradle of Nizhny Novgorod, is the single most important and biggest landmark in the city. Some local historians have a simple explanation for why the founder of Nizhny Novgorod Yury (or Georgy) Vsevolodovich, the grandson of the founder of Moscow, Yury Dolgorukiy, built the Kremlin on the high bank of the Volga: he was enchanted by the view of the Strelka and beyond, opening up from the hills. The view is indeed tantalizing, but security must have been his other consideration. Even when the fortress was all wooden, it offered solid protection from the enemies, while the river on the other side served as a natural barrier. The Kremlin was rebuilt in stone in the 16th century. The tea.m. of architects and builders from Pskov was joined by the Italian architect Pietro Francesco, who was known in Russia as Piotr Fryazin.  

The Kremlin has 13 towers. Some of them have survived intact, others have been restored. No two towers are alike architecturally and each has its own cache of legends.  

Now, as centuries ago, the main entrance to the Kremlin is through St. Demetrios Tower, the largest Kremlin tower. It was named in honour of the Church of St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki, which had once stood in front of it. That church was later replaced by the Church of the Annunciation, which, similarly to three other churches on Kremlin grounds, would not survive the years of Soviet rule.  

The 18th-century buildings inside the Kremlin currently house the Legislative Assembly, the Philharmonic and the Arbitration Court. The Soviet-era architectural landmarks next door are home to the regional government, the office of the envoy plenipotentiary of the President of Russia in the Volga Federal District, the city Mayor’s Office and the local Duma. The Modern Art Museum occupies the Czarist-era military arsenal building. The Art Museum is based in the former Governor’s Mansion, and the Military Technology Museum is deployed outdoors. All the military equipment on display was manufactured in Nizhny Novgorod, and all is in good working order. Perhaps the most monumental piece of machinery on show is the T-34 tank, manufactured by Krasnoe Sormovo Factory, standing next to the Eternal Flame and the sculptural memorial commemorating the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War.   

Apart from its incontestable historical value, the Kremlin is dear to every Nizhny Novgorod resident on a personal level. Prom parties and lovers hang out on the sloping edge of Kremlin Boulevard till dawn, newlyweds bring flowers to the Eternal Flame on their wedding day, and parents bring their children here for New Year’s Eve parties at the Philharmonic inside the Kremlin walls.