The Nizhnyi Novgorod region
The Nizhnyi Novgorod Region is located in the centre of European Russia, along the 57th parallel. The area is about 80,5 thousands km², approximately the size of the Benelux countries combined (41% – agricultural lands, 48% – forests, 2% – rivers and lakes, 9% – other). Regional centre is the city of Nizhnyi Novgorod with population of 1,4 million people, third largest city in Russia, 450 km due east of Moscow, at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers. The population of the region is 3,72 million (about 2,5% of the RF population), predominantly Russian in ethnicity, 78% urban population, density is 48,5 per km². Administrative composition includes 48 districts, 25 cities, 70 towns, and 4630 villages.
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industries: automotive, machinery, food processing, chemical and petrochemical. Natural resources are deposits of titan-zirconium sands, construction and glass sands, plaster and anhydrite, rock salt, mineral water, pine and birch forests, ongoing exploration for oil in the north. About 48% of the area is forested, 9000 rivers and streams, 3000 lakes and ponds. Climate is continental-moderate with average temperature +20°C (68F) in summer and -12° (10F) in winter.
The Nizhnyi Novgorod Region is famous for: political stability, high-technology industrial base, highly qualified personnel, well-developed infrastructure of foreign economic activities, access to the principal markets of the Volga-Vyatka economic region, low rate of crime, mature legislation base, and favourable investment climate.
Nizhnyi Novgorod was founded by Yuryi Vsevolodovich, the Prince of Vladimir, in 1221. It was called Gorky in 1932-1990. The population of the city is 1,376.000 people. It is a large river port, trade and cultural centre. One of the most ancient chronicles of Russia was written here, in Pechersky monastery, in 1328-30. Later it was known as Lavrentyevskaya chronicle. At first the city was surrounded with wooden walls of oaks, then the building of a stone Kremlin was begun in 1374. Nizhnyi Novgorod was annexed to Moscow by Vasilyi I in 1392 and soon it became a strong point of struggle against the Kazan Khanate. The Kremlin built by Peter Fryazin in 1508-1511 helped the citizens of Novgorod to resist the raids of the Tatars in 1520-1536. In 1611-12 Nizhnyi Novgorod was the centre of the forming of home guards of Kozma Minin and Dmitryi Pozharskyi against Polish invaders. Since the 19th century the city has received industrial significance. Flour-grinding and shipbuilding industries grew. Makaryevskaya Fair moved to Nizhnyi Novgorod in 1817. Shipbuilding plant "Sormovo" was built in 1849. All these factors played an important role in the growth of the city. The steamship-line has been developed since the middle of the 19th century: there were 15 steamships on the Volga in 1854, about 350 – in 1870, more than 1000 – in 1890. At the end of the 19th century Nizhnyi Novgorod becomes the largest centre of trade and finance and the largest in the world for the wholesale trade of grains. Now Nizhnyi Novgorod is one of the largest auto and track producing centres of Russia with its GAZ (Gorkovsky motorcar factory) and veteran-plant "Krasnoe Sormovo" – the main shipbuilding plant of the fleet of the Volga.
About 38 settlings of the region have status of the historical populated places, including 17 of all-Russian significance and 21 of provincial significance. These settlings have the individual unique appearance, which were developing during centuries. Earliest cities of the region are Gorodets (mid of 17th century), Nizhnyi Novgorod (1221), Kurmysh (1372), Arzamas (15th century), Vasil’sursk (1523), they were founded as fortresses on the eastern boundaries of the Russian State. The significant groups of historical settlings compose the former administrative centres of districts, converted from the villages during the formation of the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region ruled by governor-general (including towns Vetluga, Gorbatov, Lukoyanov, Semenov, Sergach, etc.), and also the large commodity-industry settlings (Balakhna – the centre of salt-making, Pavlovo – the centre of metal working, Bogorodsk and Bol’shoye Murashkino – centres of leather dressing industry). The peculiar settlings group is the Volga villages connected with navigation and trade – Bezvodnoye, Kadnitsy, Rabotki, Tatinets in the Kstovo district, and Barmino and Isady in the Lyskovo district. The unique place can be called the village Bol’shoye Olenevo in Semenovo district (the former Olenevskyi monastery), according to a legend it was founded in 15th century. The place preserved the planning structure and type of the building of skit settling connected with the names of the first devotees the Old Belief.
Nizhnyi Novgorod as a city has many monuments of history, culture and architecture to visit, and there are many remarkable areas and monuments on the territory of the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region. The tourism attractions of the region include the monuments of ancient Russian state and the Orthodox Church, the centres of folklore and handicrafts, the memorable places connected with the history of Old Belief, and memorable places connected with the famous people (a list of those objects is given in Appendix 9). The Nizhnyi Novgorod Region is a traditional destination for cultural tourist who are interested in history of Russian state and the Orthodox Church from times of their establishment. Because of popularity of this historical aspect the Nizhnyi Novgorod was always promoted and supported by the state and open to tourists of both domestic and foreign origin.
Tourist activities in the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region can be very diverse and include use of the natural resources for sport, health and recreational purposes; visiting industrial and handicraft manufactures and numerous cultural and traditional festivals, and etc.
Accommodation fund in Nizhnyi Novgorod and the region has a serious crisis. For now there are only a few more or less appropriate hotels. Some of them are located fare away from the centre or they are very small. Most famous and nearest to standard are "Volna", "Oka", "Oktyabrskaya" hotels. Due to the crisis of 1998 the hotel system of the region has really difficult times. Business activity went down, and hotels, also orientated on business life or domestic tourists, got less profit. Their capacities are not fully used: "Volna" – 30%, "Oka" – 30-35%, "Oktyabrskaya" – 50%, and hotel complex "Tsentralnyi" – 20%. Profit is enough for simply surviving, so most of them stopped reconstruction or renovating. Recently the situation is getting better with conducting Nizhnyi Novgorod Fair, City Day, and some other events.
The condition of accommodation in the rest of the region is even worth – the quality is very poor but prices are high. There are some small exceptions like a hotel in Boldino. The fact of a lack of hotels is a reason of using sanatoriums and resorts as a substitute accommodation, or developing new type – staying at host families, including food, activities like banya (sauna), fishing, etc. The region has 215 sanatoriums, resorts and camps. 20% of them works also in off-season. Average prise per night is about 100 roubles. Such accommodation would be rather interesting because of natural surroundings – forests, lakes, and clean air.
Transportation system of the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region includes 16.000 km of roads (95% of them are hard covered), 6.000 km of railways, 1.200 km of waterways, and access to all European ports.
Travelling by air
The centre of the region – Nizhnyi Novgorod – has an airport, which recently has got international status. The airport arranges flights to Moscow (every day), to Frankfurt-on-Main by "Lufthansa" (three times per week), charter flights to cities in Russia and CIS, and Egypt, Turkey, Syria, India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates. Annual amount of flights is 3590. There is intention to arrange a flight to Paris. The host-company of the airport is "Nizhnyi Novgorod Airlines".
Travelling by train
There is a straight connection to Moscow: four trains per day, two of them – high comfort class. The Nizhnyi Novgorod Region also connected to all the Russian Federation: West parts, all the Volga area, Urals, and Siberia. From 70s the subway is functioning in Nizhnyi Novgorod.
Travelling by car/bus
The region has road connection to Moscow due to two federal highways: Moscow – Nizhnyi Novgorod – Kazan and Moscow – Nizhnyi Novgorod – Saransk. In 1998 the European Transport corridor to Nizhnyi Novgorod was prolonged. By the state bus system visitors can get to any part of the region, as well as neighbouring areas and republics and Moscow.
Travelling by ship/riverboat
There are waterways to towns and cities along the Volga, and also to Moscow and St. Petersburg.
There are more than 100 travel agencies registered in the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region. About 50% of them are involved in inbound tourism permanently, 40% – on provisional basis. All of them are active during high season, and more than a half – in off-season. Traditional offer is cruises along the Volga. The "Volga-Flot" (a strong water transport enterprise owning big ship) has a big fleet, and runs cruises along three rivers – the Volga, Kama and Oka. The region has also a small-scale fleet, corresponding to class "deluxe". According to the Program on cultural heritage in the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region many monuments and objects have been restored.
The regional tourism facilities and services are in planning and developing stage now. The receptive service is quite weak. There are services of guides and interpreters but they are concentrated mostly at travel agencies, which also substitute functions of tourist informational offices. There is no any centralised informational service. Restaurants and other eating establishments have good quality and service, but mainly on demand of business life of Nizhnyi Novgorod, what results in high prices. Retail outlets of handicrafts, souvenirs and specialities are arranged at many places, especially at museums, manufactures and tourist sites, especially in towns where they are produced. There are developed facilities for financial operations due to developed business: foreign exchange offices, filials of many banks, banks both state and private proceed operations with bankcards from all over the world. Personal facilities are good developed, on any demand and quality. The region has good medical facilities and services: there are all-Russia famous medical centres, institutes and hospitals of various specialisation with modern medical equipment and high developed technologies. The emergency telephone access to medical service is "03". Public safety is run by the state service "milicia"(police), the emergency telephone access is "02". Fire protection is the concern of the special department, the emergency telephone access is "01".
Nizhnyi Novgorod and the region has all communication and public services like water supply, electric power, sewage and solid waste disposal, telegraph, telex, and telefax (run by the municipal authorities), and radio, telecommunications, and telephone (run by the state or private companies).
At present in the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region six television companies work: the state federal of TV-radio company "Nizhnyi Novgorod", the provincial TV-radio company NNTV, the private company "Volga", the private TV-station "The NN networks", and also two private companies "Nika TV" and "The Stream". Local radiobroadcast is achieved by provincial and commercial radio-companies "Radio Rendezvous", "Europe+ NN" and "Radio 101". Also the region has a good telephone network both on line and mobile. It is possible to contact to any country in the world in a few seconds from almost any place of the region. Post offices are open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., there anyone can use fax, telefax, call in Russia or abroad, get information. Nizhnyi Novgorod has offices of some international express post services.