What to visit

Chkalovskaya staircase

Description History

When you come to Nizhny Novgorod by the river, the titanic height of so called Chkalov`s Staircase is the first thing that catches your eye. The residents of Nizhny Novgorod still fail to reach a verdict on how many steps this staircase counts. Official guidebooks say the number is 560, but anyone who has ever walked up and down will never agree with this and say that the number of steps is much higher.

On top there is a monument to the pilot Valery Chkalov. On the monument pedestal you may see the outline of the North hemisphere and the routes of Chkalov's flight to the Far East and across the North Pole to America as indicated by dotted lines. Also there are years of the pilot's life and an inscription that says, "In commemoration of Valery Chkalov, an outstanding pilot of our time". Below there are several holes from the fixture formerly holding a different message, "To Stalin's falcon», which was dismantled in the years of ideological fight against hero-worship of Stalin.

As to the city downtown, the best point to admire Chkalov`s Staircase is from its foot, from the Nizhnevolzhskaya embankment. On Fridays you may see how Nizhny Novgorod bridegrooms carry their brides up the giant staircase, in order to give credence to a strong and happy marriage.

In the year 1940 the city erected a monument to Valery Chkalov on the high bank of the Volga near the very walls of the Kremlin.

The man was a native of Nizhny Novgorod region, a Hero of the Soviet Union. This  legendary test pilot Valery Chkalov carried out the first in history non-stop flight across the North Pole from Moscow to Vancouver (USA), he became all-people`s star, and after his death in 1938 the government determined to commemorate the man at his homeland.

A friend of the deceased pilot sculptor Mendelevich is the author of this monument installed in 1940. In 1943 at the height of the Second World War it was followed by the construction of Chkalov`s ladder, this project by architects Yakovlev and Rudnev. The staircase was laid in honor of the Russian victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. The original project was grandiose and it was supposed to decorate the staircase with multiple statues and a cascading fountain, topped with a huge image of the Order of Lenin. Eventually Chkalov`s Staircase came out uncluttered, the construction works were completed in 1949.

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