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The city was founded by Grand Duke George II of Russia in 1221 at the confluence of two most important rivers of his principality, the Volga and the Oka. Its name literally means ''Newtown the Lower'', to distinguish it from the older [[Novgorod]]. A major stronghold for border protection, Nizhny Novgorod fortress took advantage of a natural moat formed by the two rivers.
 
The city was founded by Grand Duke George II of Russia in 1221 at the confluence of two most important rivers of his principality, the Volga and the Oka. Its name literally means ''Newtown the Lower'', to distinguish it from the older [[Novgorod]]. A major stronghold for border protection, Nizhny Novgorod fortress took advantage of a natural moat formed by the two rivers.
  
Along with Moscow and Tver, Nizhny Novgorod was among several newly-founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of its insignificance and grew up into important centers of Russian political life during the period of Tatar yoke. For a short period of time it was the capital of the Suzdal Principality and competed with Moscow for the power in the region. However the competition with Moscow was lost and in 1392 the city was incorporated into Muscovy. Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin was built in 1508-1511 (under supervision of the Italian fortress engineers) and became one of the strongest Russian citadels. There is a legend saying that the project was initially developed with participation of Leonardo da Vinci. However there is no documented proof of Leonardo's work for that project, the only thing the legend is based on is the striking resemblance of Leonardo's sketches and the actual kremlin schemes. The fortress was strong enough to withstand Tatar sieges in 1520 and 1536.
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Along with Moscow and [[Tver]], Nizhny Novgorod was among several newly-founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of its insignificance and grew up into important centers of Russian political life during the period of Tatar yoke. For a short period of time it was the capital of the Suzdal Principality and competed with Moscow for the power in the region. However the competition with Moscow was lost and in 1392 the city was incorporated into Muscovy. Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin was built in 1508-1511 (under supervision of the Italian fortress engineers) and became one of the strongest Russian citadels. There is a legend saying that the project was initially developed with participation of Leonardo da Vinci. However there is no documented proof of Leonardo's work for that project, the only thing the legend is based on the striking resemblance of Leonardo's sketches and the actual kremlin schemes. The fortress was strong enough to withstand Tatar sieges in 1520 and 1536.
  
 
In 1612, the so-called ''national militia'', gathered by a local merchant Kuzma Minin and commanded by Knyaz Dmitry Pozharsky expelled the Polish troops from Moscow, thus putting an end to the Time of Troubles and establishing the rule of the Romanov dynasty.  
 
In 1612, the so-called ''national militia'', gathered by a local merchant Kuzma Minin and commanded by Knyaz Dmitry Pozharsky expelled the Polish troops from Moscow, thus putting an end to the Time of Troubles and establishing the rule of the Romanov dynasty.  
  
In 1817, the Makaryev Monastery Fair, one of the liveliest in the world the 16th-18th centuries, was transferred to Nizhny Novgorod, which thereupon started to attract numerous visitors and by the mid-19th century it turned Nizhny Novgorod into trade capital of the Russian Empire.   
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In 1817, the [[Makaryev Monastery|Makariev]] Fair, one of the liveliest in the world the 16th-18th centuries, was transferred to Nizhny Novgorod, which thereupon started to attract numerous visitors and by the mid-19th century it turned Nizhny Novgorod into trade capital of the Russian Empire.   
  
 
Under the Soviet rules the trade connections of the city were abandoned and Nizhny Novgorod turned to become an important industrial centre instead. During the communist time the city was closed to foreigners to safeguard the security of Soviet military research. The physicist and the Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov was exiled there during 1980-1986 to limit his contacts with foreigners.
 
Under the Soviet rules the trade connections of the city were abandoned and Nizhny Novgorod turned to become an important industrial centre instead. During the communist time the city was closed to foreigners to safeguard the security of Soviet military research. The physicist and the Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov was exiled there during 1980-1986 to limit his contacts with foreigners.

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