Rivers and ponds take up one third of the city's territory. Nizhny Tagil spans 22 kilometers (14 mi) from north to south and 21 kilometers (13 mi) from east to west. The city is built around Lisya Mountain extinct volcano. This mountain with a watch-tower on its top is a symbol of the city.
The history of Nizhny Tagil begins with the opening of the Vysokogorsky iron ore quarry in 1696. The deposits were particularly rich, and included lodes of pure magnetic iron. The surrounding landscape provided everything needed for a successful and productive mining and smelting operation — rivers for transport, forests for fuel, and suitable climate.
The city itself was legally founded in October 1722 among settlements connected to the construction of the Vyysky copper smelting plant, owned by Nikolay Demidov. Over the following decades, the city developed as one of the early centers of Russian industrialization, and it has been a major producer of cast iron and steel.
According to some sources, the copper for the skin of the Statue of Liberty was mined and refined in Nizhny Tagil.
Demidovs' initiatives in the area of culture had a favorable influence on the development of Tagil community into the Urals' most important cultural center. In the 19th century, a library and the museum of natural history and antiquity were opened. Nizhny Tagil is also known for its decorative trays.
Nizhny Tagil museums include the old regional history museum, the museum of Fine Arts, and a number of new museums opened in the 1990s: the museum of tray painting art, the museum of lifestyle and handicrafts representing the starting point of a new ethnographic complex.
The Demidov Park, a new cultural and historical project, is planned to be built in the city. Nizhny Tagil has been repeatedly chosen to host international Urals' Industrial Heritage conferences and workshops.