Russians say that St Petersburg is the nation's head, while Moscow is its heart – but Nizhny Novgorod is its pockets. Nizhny Novgorod was, at one time, home to the largest fair in the Russian Empire – a fact that led to the city's spiralling economic rise. Today, Nizhny Novgorod is Russia's fifth-largest city, and has over 600 architectural monuments.
- The city was renamed 'Gorky' during the Soviet era – in honour of author Maxim Gorky
- Up to the end of the USSR, foreigners weren't allowed to visit Nizhny Novgorod – which had the status of a 'closed city'.
- In 2019, Nizhny Novgorod was voted the Russian city with the best quality of life. On a world scale, using the same criteria, it came in 109th, out of a total of 226 cities, in ratings compiled by the portal Numbeo.
- Throughout its history, the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin was never captured. Legend claims that when ten Tatar warriors were seen approaching the fortress, a woman killed them by throwing a yoke (koromyslo) at them – thus saving the city from attack. The unlucky girl was killed in battle, and her remains were bricked into the walls of the Kremlin's Koromyslova Tower.
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Built in 1723 on the left bank of the River Iset, Ekaterinburg was named in honour of Russian Empress Catherine ('Ekaterina') the First. The city was temporarily renamed as Sverdlovsk during the Soviet era, in honour of Revolutionary hero Yakov Sverdlov. From its earliest years, the city has been a metal-producing and industrial centre.
Of its dozens of heavy-industry plants, the most famous is URALMASH – producing equipment for metal-working, the mining and energy industries.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad runs through Ekaterinburg. Passengers make stops here to see the city's museums, its unique architecture, the natural beauty of the area, and enjoy entertainment for every possible taste.
Ekaterinburg is famed as a scientific centre, with its own regional section of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and dozens of teaching institutions – of which the most famous is the Boris Yeltsin Urals University, named after its former graduate who became the first President of Russia.