A fans’ guide to Nizhny Novgorod

If the World Cup had been held in Russia just 28 years ago, none of the games would have been held in Nizhny Novgorod for two important reasons:

  • Nizhny Novgorod didn’t exist then – the city was actually called Gorky;
  • As the Soviet Union’s largest closed city, it was strictly off-limits to foreigners.

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Source: Wiki Commons, Maria Krivosheina 

But today, all that’s changed, and the people of this fascinating place that dominates Russia’s Volga Federal District are looking forward to welcoming football fans from around the world.

This major industrial city was founded in the 13th century. Located about 270 miles east of Moscow, ‘Nizhny’ stands on the banks of the mighty Volga River, where it meets the slightly less mighty Oka River. Although the population is predominantly Russian, around 100 different nationalities live within the city. The climate is temperate continental, with warm summer days to enjoy all that the city has to offer … and the football, of course.

The city’s proximity to Moscow is a definite bonus in terms of getting around as the tournament progresses. So why not choose Nizhny as your base for this year’s World Cup? And with RNTO as your Russia 2018 partner, you’re guaranteed a competition you’ll never forget!

Where to stay

With a population of around 1.3 million, Nizhny Novgorod is a good-sized city by anyone’s standards. And as you’d expect, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to finding somewhere to stay during the competition.

Things have changed a lot since Nizhny lost its ‘closed city’ status back in 1990. The city’s infrastructure has been updated in terms of transport and accommodation, and while it may not offer quite the same degree of choice as its larger neighbour Moscow, you’re sure to find somewhere that fits the bill within your available budget. But to be on the safe side, it’s certainly worth booking as soon as possible to secure the best deal in the location you want.

If that means staying near the stadium, the choice is somewhat limited, admittedly. There are a few hotels to choose from near the stadium, though, and many more apartment rentals. The Nikitin, Titul and Shinel hotels are all a short walk from the stadium. A little further away, the massive Marins Park Hotel is another good option, while there are a few more hotels around Moskovsky train station.

But unlike some host cities, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium is fairly centrally located, and within walking distance of many of the central attractions. And remember: your FAN ID  allows you to travel free on selected routes, so if you do need to use public transport, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Whatever your accommodation needs, we can make all the arrangements for you. Call us today on 0207 985 1234 for friendly, helpful advice and the best deals to suit your needs.

The stadium

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium is one of the venues that’s been built specifically to host the World Cup.

The stadium’s design was inspired by the nature of the Volga region, and consists of a semi-transparent facade that can be lit up at night. The seats are divided over two tiers. This 45 000-capacity venue will become the new home of FC Olimpiyets once the World Cup’s over.

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During the competition, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium will host four first-round group matches, one round-of-16 match, and one quarter-final.

Standing on the west bank of the river Volga where the Oka and Volga meet, it’s less than 3 kilometres from Nizhny’s historical heart and the Kremlin on the other side of the Oka river, and less than 2 kilometres from Nizhny’s main railway station (Moskovsky), so you can walk there from most central locations. The city also has three Metro lines, making getting around simple.

Right next door, there’s a large shopping centre with various places to get something to eat, while just south of the stadium, along the Oka River, lies the Strelka area, which includes the Nizhny Novgorod Fair and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is worth a look and has a few places to eat or drink.

The action kicks off on 18 June when Sweden take on the Korean Republic, followed three days later by Argentina v Croatia.

What to see

There are more than six hundred historic, architectural and cultural monuments in the city. Among them there are eight theatres, five concert halls, 17 movie theatres (including five for children), eight museums and seven parks.

Nizhny Novgorod has an extraordinary art gallery with more than 12 000 exhibits, an enormous collection of works by Russian artists and a vast accumulation of Western European and East Asian artworks.

In terms of religious buildings, the Pechersky Ascension Monastery features an austere five-domed cathedral dating back to 1632 and two rare churches with tent roofs, dating from the 1640s. The city’s most original and delightful churches were built by the Stroganovs in the early Baroque style. Don’t miss the Virgin’s Nativity Church in the city centre.

Other notable churches include the huge domed Transfiguration Cathedral, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (the third tallest in Russia) and the Church of the Nativity, one of the most beautiful in the city, not forgetting the recently reconstructed Church of the Nativity of John the Precursor, which stands just below the Kremlin walls and was used during the Soviet period as an apartment house.

There’s also a mosque in Sennaya Square, where Muslim worshippers go for Friday prayers, and the centrally located Nizhny Novgorod Synagogue, built in the 1880s.

But the dominating feature of the city’s skyline is the grand Kremlin, located on the hill near the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers. Built between 1500 and 1511, it’s guarded by 13 red-brick towers. Unfortunately, the Bolsheviks destroyed most of its buildings, and today, the only ancient edifice left within the Kremlin walls is the Archangel Cathedral. The 18th-century buildings inside the Kremlin currently house the Legislative Assembly, Philharmonic and the Arbitration Court.

The Kremlin is also home to the Military Technology Museum. All the equipment on display was manufactured in Nizhny Novgorod, and is in good working order. Most impressive is the T-34 tank which stands next to the Eternal Flame and the sculptural memorial commemorating the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War.

A staircase connects the Kremlin with the Volga River, offering a panoramic view of its surroundings. The staircase itself was constructed in the late 1940s by German prisoners of war who were forced to work around Gorky.

You’ll also find great views of the city and beyond from the Strelka (or ‘Spit’), where the River Oka flows into the Volga. On a clear day, you can distinctly see that the water of the two rivers is a different colour (the Volga’s is darker and thicker). This is where you’ll find Nizhny’s stadium (nearest Metro station is, not unexpectedly, called ‘Strelka’).

Also worth a look are the apartment museums of famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky, and of Andrey Sakharov, known primarily as the father of the hydrogen bomb, who both lived in the city.

There’s no end of things to see and do in Nizhny, but no visit can be complete without a stroll down the city’s pedestrian main street, Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, or Pokrovka. It’s the liveliest street in town, connecting the two main squares: Ploshchad Minina i Pozharskogo and Ploshchad Gorkogo. Pokrovka is always crowded, with tourists milling about in the gift shops, checking out Semyonovo nesting dolls and Gorodets gingerbreads.

Bars and restaurants

The most popular places to eat and drink in the city centre are either around Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street, or closer to the river around Rozhdestvenskaya Street.

Shustry Shmel on Ulitsa Alekseyevskaya is worth a visit just for its unusual name. But there’s more on offer – in particular, its many Russian craft beers. The more familiar-sounding Franky on Ulitsa Zvezdinka is a worthy option if you fancy a taste of 1950s America. Or try the ‘English Embassy’ further down the road for something a little more genteel, and a great kids’ menu.

There’s plenty of choice to suit every taste in Nizhny. And needless to say, most will be showing the matches live. For a more extensive round-up, visit the official Russia 2018 website. Na zdorovye (cheers)!

Watch for free

If you’ve watched the World Cup in previous years (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?), then you will have seen the ‘Fan Fest’ areas – giant screens set up in huge open areas where fans can watch all the action live. And the best thing about it is that it’s free!

Russia 2018 continues this great tradition, with Fan Fest sites in all 11 World Cup host cities. They’re a great way to follow your team and meet supporters from all around the world, where you can enjoy the unique culture and friendly hospitality on offer and take home some amazing memories of Russia 2018.

You’ll find Nizhny’s on Minina i Pozharskogo Square, next to the Kremlin and a busy pedestrian street. This unique location in the heart of the city is the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere of the world’s greatest football event. With a capacity of 15 000 people, where better to support your team and enjoy the moment!

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