Architecture of Nizhny Novgorod

Before I went to Russia I had never even heard of the city of Nizhny Novgorod, but I’m glad I paid a visit. Located a few hours west of the Russian capital at the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers, it is the fifth largest city in the country, but still a massive contrast to the big cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Timber buildings in Nizhny Novgorod's old town area

In the outskirts of the old town area the streets are still full of traditional timber houses.

Timber buildings in Nizhny Novgorod's old town area

Their window frames are made of ornate timber work.

More timber buildings in Nizhny Novgorod's old town area

Some of the timber houses have seen better days.

This timber house has seen better days...

And modern apartment blocks have started to spread through the city.

Modern apartment blocks tower over traditional timber buildings

In other parts of the Nizhny Novgorod, the rendered brick buildings look more like those seen in Saint Petersburg.

Walking around the old town of Nizhny Novgorod

However the streets are much quieter.

Side streets in the old town of Nizhny Novgorod

And some of the buildings are in disrepair.

Side streets in the old town of Nizhny Novgorod

The main street of Bolshaya Pokrovskaya ulitsa is a pedestrian mall.

Main street of Nizhny Novgorod - Bolshaya Pokrovskaya ulitsa

Trams head down the city streets towards the outer districts.

71-403 tram #1001 on route 2 heads west on ulitsa Bolshaya Pecherskaya

The Kremlin is a landmark of Nizhny Novgorod.

Outside the Kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod

Built between 1508 and 1515, the fortress has 13 towers guarding the 2 km of stone walls.

Walls of the Kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod

Churches are also a feature of Nizhny Novgorod, such as this one facing National Unity Square, at the foot of the city’s Kremlin.

National Unity Square in Nizhny Novgorod

And this one on the banks of the Oka River.

Church on the banks of the Oka River

However not all of the city’s churches have such an idyllic setting – this one is overshadowed by a Soviet-era apartment block.

Soviet-era apartments tower over a historic church

Streets full of Brutalist concrete apartment blocks are found in the outer districts.

Soviet-era apartment blocks in the modern part of Nizhny Novgorod

As well as the redeveloped areas of the old town.

Apartment blocks looking down on the Oka River in Nizhny Novgorod

At least some look nicer than others.

Electrical substation below an apartment block

As for our hotel, from the outside it looked like a decrepit concrete bombsite, but inside it has been modernised and was perfectly fine.

Our hotel in Nizhny Novgorod - Soviet looking outside, modern inside


When planning my trip to Russia my entry point was Ukraine, with Moscow and Saint Petersburg down as “must see” destinations, plus a list of other cities of interest – Krasnodar, Astrakhan, Volgograd, Samara, Kazan, Novgorod and Yaroslavl.

However with only two weeks to fit it all into, I settled on seeing the Black Sea at Sochi and the Volga River at Nizhny Novgorod, plus a lot of train travel in between.

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