Just a quarter of a century ago Nizhny Novgorod could not be found on any tourist itinerary maps: between 1959 and 1990 Nizhny was called Gorky and it was Soviet Union’s largest closed city. Named in honour of its most famous resident, early 20th-century Russian writer Maxim Gorky, the city was a symbol of Soviet Union’s military prowess. At the same time Nizhny Novgorod is an old Russian merchant town with timber planking and carved window frames that survived the onslaught of modern architecture.
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Nizhny Novgorod 2018 | Open Air MuseumLeaving the Kremlin, make your way down to Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa (Rozhdestvenskaya Street)Leaving the Kremlin, make your way down to Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa (Rozhdestvenskaya Street)
Open Air Museum
Leaving the Kremlin, make your way down to Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa (Rozhdestvenskaya Street). At the beginning of the street, at Ploschad Narodnogo Jedinstva (Narodnogo Jedinstva Square), stands a monument to Minin and Pozharsky – a smaller copy of the Moscow statue erected in Red Square. Next to the monument is a night shelter for 840 people that was built in 1885 by notable breadmaker and merchant Nikolay Bugrov, and which was described in Russian revolutionary writer Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths play. The "bread king" spent almost half of his income on charity.
Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa has been called an open-air museum: it is full of merchant estates and mansions, and each has its own historical or cultural value. The houses stand close together, forming solid motley walls. The ground floors are now restaurants, cafés and stores. As time goes by, Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa is becoming the centre of life in the city, surpassing Nizhny Novgorod's main pedestrian thoroughfare, Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Ulitsa (Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street), in popularity. Rain or shine, the street is home to modern-day trade fairs where local merchants and craftsmen sell their wares.
On weekends and holidays a retro tramline runs along Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa in memory of Russia's first electric tram, which appeared in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896.