Hotel Vesna — a part of the history of the fair of Nizhniy Novgorod

The fair of Nizhniy Novgorod is located in the heart of the city, at the confluence of the Oka and the Volga rivers. The fair used to be the largest trading platform in the russian empire. Nowadays, it resembles an enormous architectural complex which is a symbol of the economic welfare of traders from all over the world who exhibited their goods here.

The first fairs in Nizhniy Novgorod appeared in the XIII century, when the Volga river played a role of the border of Russia. Through trade the river connected eastern and western cultures and washed away the visual border between them.

In 1523, in order to protect our borders from the Khanate of Kazan, Vasily III founded the fortress Vasilsursk. One year later, he commanded to establish a fair there.
After the Kazan Khanate was conquered, merchants organized a spontaneous fair near the present village of Makarievo. Makariev fair gained popularity very quickly and by 1641 became the largest in the country. It managed to maintain this status for two centuries.

In 1816, just four years after Moscow was burnt during the Napoleonic wars, the Makariev fair was devastated by fire.

Alexander I, who was aware of the damage that was caused by the loss of one of Europe’s largest trade centres, allocated 6 million rubles in order to create a new fair. He even had to postpone the reconstruction of the Winter Palace to achieve this goal.

The outstanding architects of the period, such as the creator of the Moscow Manege Augustine Betancourt and the author of St. Isaac’s Cathedral Auguste Montferrand, started the implementation of this project. Several engineering innovations were used in the project in addition to the unique architectural solutions in the classicism spirit, in particular, the system of channels and locks that successfully prevents waterlogging, a six-hundred-metre pedestrian bridge connecting the city with the fair, as well as the first sewage system in post-antique Europe.

It was the fair that had been defining the concept of city development for many years, it has even spreaded the city onto the opposite side of the river. The fair was opened on July 15, 1822. Many people arrived there in order to buy and sell their goods and they stayed until the beginning of September.

More than 15 thousand people visited the fair, this number was nearly an equivalent to the population number of the time. The huge success of the fair turned Nizhniy Novgorod into the “third capital” of Russia. Alexander Pushkin visited the fair and described his impression of the experience in the novel “Evgeniy Onegin”.

The fair was one of the largest business platforms in the world with the incoming flow of 60 million rubles per season. It was also equippedin a very modern way. In 1870 a water supply system was constructed there and in 1885 the electric lighting was introduced just 6 years after the invention of the light bulb!

In 1896, the Great Russian Exhibition was opened by the launch of three different tram systems at the fair. The first Russian car was presented to the public at this exhibition, as well as one of the first hyperbolic towers of Shukhov engineer, whose system is now used at building skyscrapers.

The rapid development of the fair was interrupted by the First World War. All the funding went to the front needs or flowed abroad. The fair turned into a place for refugees’ accommodation, and its property was plundered. In 1918 the territory of the fair was annexed to Nizhniy Novgorod by the State Department act. Trading continued during the NEP and was finally stopped only in 1929. Until the beginning of the 90s, the buildings on the territory of the fair were used for household needs and housing itself.

Today the fair is open as a trade and exhibition complex, the fifth largest in Russia. Significant events of national and international scale are held here.
The building of the Vesna Hotel, located in the Manufacturnaya street, 18, is part of a “Nizhniy Novgorod Fair” complex.

The construction of the building was finished in 1917 according to the documents found, but according to our data sources, the building was constructed much earlier. At first, it was used as a warehouse and office building as part of the “Nizhny Novgorod Fair” complex, located near the famous “Chinese arcades”. Later, this place was occupied by communal apartments, in the Soviet times it was used by Construction and installation bureau “Topaz”, finally, in post-Soviet times the building was rented for offices.