Right in the centre of Nizhny Novgorod, in Minin Square, you can see a monumental sculpture of Valery Chkalov, the world-famous test pilot and hero of the Soviet Union. He was the first man in history to complete a non-stop flight through the North Pole from Moscow to Vancouver (state of Washington, USA). The monument was placed here in 1940. It is situated by the Kremlin wall and at the top of the Chkalov Staircase. Valery is standing with his arms folded. He is looking up towards the sky. The map on the monument's pedestal shows the routes of Chkalov's record setting flights in the 1930s, including his non-stop flight from Moscow to Vancouver via the North Pole in1937.
During its long history Nizhny Novgorod has been home to several prominent people. Perhaps, one of the most influential was Kuzma Minin, a native of Nizhny Novgorod. He was a rich merchant during the Time of Troubles - a period of Russian history that began with the death of Tsar Fyodor I, the last tsar of the Rurik Dynasty. Both internal and external Russian enemies started their intrigues. That was the time of impostors to the throne, famines, and domestic revolts. The Polish-Lithuanian Army occupied Moscow in the early 1600s. Several localities, including Nizhny Novgorod, organized armies to defend themselves. Kuzma Minin was elected to oversee the funding of Nizhny Novgorod army. His activity drew the attention of Prince Pozharsky, who joined his forces with Minin’s and marched
to Moscow to expel the Polish-Lithuanian invaders. In 1612, they reached Moscow and liberated it from the invaders.
Their feat was commemorated in 1812 by construction of the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky. The monument was to be placed in Minin’s hometown of Nizhny Novgorod. However, Tsar Alexander I ordered to place it in Moscow, where to this day it sits in Red Square, in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Luckily for the citizens of Nizhny Novgorod, a copy of this statue was made by the sculpture Zurab Tsereteli and erected in 2005 in honour of a new holiday “Day of the National Unity”.
On a big rectangular pedestal from granite two bronze sculptures of Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky are placed. Prince Dmitry Pozharsky is sitting. There is a shield in his one hand, with his other hand he is taking a sword from Kuzma Minin’s hand. On the pedestal there are reliefs with pictures of people who lived in the 17th century. And there is a memorial inscription: “To the citizen Minin and the prince Pozharsky, a grateful Russia”.