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Nizhny Novgorod's Historic Chkalov Staircase

Located at the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, the city of Nizhny Novgorod is an important cultural center for the region and has a number of interesting attractions to visit. One of the top attractions in the city is the Chkalov Staircase, the construction of which turned out to be quite controversial and resulted in the arrest of the government official who carried out the project. The staircase was originally known as the Volga Staircase, but was later renamed in honor of a Soviet Union test pilot, Valery Chkalov, who in 1937 was the first pilot in history to fly non-stop from Moscow, via the North Pole to Vancouver in the US state of Washington. The enormous staircase climbs a hill overlooking the river, providing a spectacular view of the surroundings, and a monument in Chkalov's honor stands on Minina Square at the top of the staircase.

As the head of the city in 1939, Aleksander Shulpin initiated the plans for the staircase and managed to get it approved and financed, despite the fact that the construction took place during the Great Patriotic War of June 1941 to May 1945 when resources were stretched to the limit. Architects A.A. Yakovlev, L.V. Rudnev and V.O. Mints designed the staircase, and records reveal that the cost of the project, which continued from 1943 through to 1949, came to almost eight million rubles. The cost and resources used in the construction of the staircase was so displeasing to the Soviet government that they expelled Shulpin from the party and arrested him.

Featuring more than 1,500 steps, the Chkalov Staircase is almost three times larger than Odessa's renowned Potyomkin Staircase. The staircase is a popular leisure spot with locals and visitors alike and it connects the city of Nizhny Novgorod with the waterfront. On a pedestal at the foot of the staircase is a boat that was part of the Volgian military fleet involved in the Great Patriotic War’s Battle at Stalingrad.


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