Balakhna (Russian: Балахна́) is a town and the administrative center of Balakhninsky District of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia, located on the right bank of the Volga River, 32 kilometers (20 mi) north of Nizhny Novgorod. Population: 51,519 (2010 Census); 57,338 (2002 Census); 32,133 (1989 Census); 33,500 (1968).
Balakhna was founded in 1474 as Sol-na-Gorodtse (Соль-на-Городце). After the Khan of Kazan razed it to the ground in 1536, a wooden fort was constructed to protect the settlement against further Tatar incursions. For the following three centuries, Balakhna prospered as a center of saltworks and grain trade. By the Time of Troubles, it was the 12th largest city in Russia.
Adam Olearius visited and described the town in 1636. That year several shipwrights from Holstein built the first Russian ships here, thus establishing Balakhna as a foremost center of national river shipbuilding. The people of Balakhna were also reputed for their skills in knitting and making colored tiles, which were used for decoration of the Savior Church (1668) and other local temples. Balakhna is one of the few Russian cities shown on the 1689 Amsterdam World Map (labeled Balaghna).
The oldest structure in the city (and in the whole region) is the tentlike church of St. Nicholas (1552). Of all the tentlike churches built in brick, this is the nearest approach to their wooden prototypes. Another handsome church, dating from the 17th century, houses a municipal museum. The Nativity church (1675) represents an archaic monumental type of monastery cathedral. Nearby is a statue of Kuzma Minin, who was born in Balakhna.
The northwestern part of Balakhna is known as Pravdinsk, and it used to be a separate urban-type settlement before it was annexed to Balakhna. The settlement was named after the Moscow Pravda newspaper, which at some point may have been the largest consumer of newsprint produced at the local paper mill. A few kilometers further west, near the village of Istomino, is the Istomino Airfield, formerly known as the Pravdinsk Air Base.
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