Lenin Square used to be the city's official center for marketing May Day and the October Revolution. Now the square's function is quite different, with the Trade Fair becoming its main attraction.
The fair's Main Building, an example of the Russian Style, dates back to 1896, when an All-Russian Trade and Industry Exhibition was held in Nizhni Novgorod. A tragic story is connected with N. Ivanov, the chief civil engineer who supervised its construction. One of the walls collapsed during construction and the provincial administration blamed Ivanov for the accident. Mortally offended, Ivanov committed suicide.
In 1970 the building was badly damaged by a major fire that broke out just before a supermarket was to be opened there. Nevertheless, the Main House is an architectural landmark of the city. Today it houses show rooms for the Nizhni Novgorod Trade Fair and several stores, including "Le Monti" and "Queen of Saba". International exhibitions are held at the site of the Trade Fair.
Not far from the square is located the Spassky (Our Savior's) or Old Fair Cathedral, built in 1822, at Mir Avenue 33. Its striking resemblance of the famous St. Isaac's Cathedral in St.
Petersburg can be explained by the fact that they were both created by the architect A. Montferrand. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Strelka Street, the largest church building in the city, built in 1868-81, is another splendid monument built in the Russian Style. From the 1920s to the late 1980s the building was used as a port warehouse. Now it is being restored by the Russian Orthodox Church.
The V.I. Lenin monument is at the center of the square. The Central Hotel and the "Dom Knigi" Bookstore (probably the richest of its kind) are on the left. A wide variety of books, videocassettes, badges, etc., are offered at an open-air market in front of the bookstore.
On the right side of the square is the "Oka" Cafe and the "Almaz" (Diamond) jewelry shop.