What to visit

The State Bank

Description History

The building of the state bank boggles the viewer imagination, looking both like a medieval knight's castle and a Russian boyar residence, decorated with the coat of arms of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire and bearing the symbol of Nizhny Novgorod. When looking into the big windows one may see parts of the interior painting and gold plating, the insides of this fabulous chamber is even more luxurious than its rich exterior. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to enter, just like in Russian fairy tales the doors of this bank only open once a year, in the month of May, and the queue of those willing to see the beauty is as long as the whole way to the Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod.

The State Bank was built in 1908 with due account of possible transfer of part of Russia's gold reserves here to Nizhny Novgorod. The works were completed by 1913, just in time for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanovs' house. The main architect was Vladimir Pokrovsky, and the interior painting of the walls was carried out according to the sketches of Ivan Bilibin. The solemn opening was honored by the presence of Emperor Nicholas II himself with the empress and children. At the entrance he was welcomed with traditional bread and salt on a precious tray. His visit program initially assumed a tree planting ceremony, for which a silver bucket and a scoop were ready, but eventually these tools were never used and they were for some time kept in a glass-case  inside the bank and later on disappeared after the Revolution of 1917.

In the years of the First World War the Bank vault received a good half of the gold reserve of the Russian Empire, as well as the treasures of the Hermitage Palace and the Anichkov Palace, as well as secret archives of a number of ministries. With such a load the building footing revealed signs of strain. When Soviet Russia concluded a peace treaty with the Kaiser Germany, under the terms of their agreement 96 tons of gold were sent from the Bank in Nizhny Novgorod to Moscow, under enhanced security, to pay the war indemnity in two special trains.

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