Located at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers, 450 km south east off Moscow, the city was founded in 1221 by Yuri Vsevolodovich, Grand Prince of Vladimir. For a short period of time (1341-1392) it was the capital of the mighty principality of Nizhny Novgorod and Suzdal, but lost afterwards its independence and became a part of the Moscow principality(1392).
By the late 16th century, owing to its convenient location by the trade roads to Central Asia and India, Nizhny (the local city’s nickname) became a flourishing market town, and a stronghold of the state of Moscow (the predecessor of the future state of Russia).
During the 19th century the riverside city became worldwide known as Russia’s largest fair town and the world’s largest grain trade center. In 1932 the city’s name was changed to Gorky, in honor of the famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky, who was born there.
The old name of the city was brought back in 1990, a notable year in the history of Nizhny due to another significant change: closed till then for foreigners for the reason of a great number of defense industry enterprises to be located there, it was opened up that year for unrestricted access.
The famous Russian scientist and the Noble Peace prize winner Andrey Sakharov spent six years here in exile (1980-1986) for his human rights activity, thus making city’s name even more familiar abroad. Today’s Nizhny, with its 1,4 million citizens, is Russia’s third largest city, after Moscow and St.Petersburg, and a popular tourist center.