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Myshkin: A Cozy Place to Burrow

Published: April 2, 2014 (Issue # 1804)



  • Derived from the word myshka, the Russian word for mouse, legend has it that Myshkin was named after a mouse who saved the life of a prince while he was resting on one of the banks of the Volga River.
    Photo: Alexander Strokin / wikimedia commons

  • Human-sized mice roam the streets of Myshkin giving helpful advice to visitors.
    Photo: Jordi Joan Fabrega / flickr

  • Along the quiet streets of Myshkin, one can discover a number of traditional and well-preserved wooden buildings.
    Photo: Alexander Filyuta / wikimedia commons

  • Get your camera ready as you take a stroll down the Volga embankment.
    Photo: Bashinsky / wikimedia commons

  • The town has kept a mixture of Soviet and post-Soviet monuments on display.
    Photo: D. Kudinv / Flickr

MYSHKIN, Yaroslavl region While Rome might have been saved by geese, this tiny town in the central Yaroslavl region owes its fame and prosperity to a small mouse.

The place name Myshkin is derived from myshka the Russian word for the small rodent. Legend has it that the animal was glorified in the name of the town after it saved the life of a prince who was resting on one of the banks of the Volga River. The prince, Fyodor Mikhailovich Mstislavsky, the founder of one of Russias most influential families in the 15th century, was awoken by the mouse darting across his face. Angered at first, the prince then realized that the mouse had saved him from a snake that had been creeping toward him as he slept.

Centuries later, the mouse became the symbol of a revival in the town when local authorities decided to use its unusual name to attract tourists. The international Festival of the Mouse held in 1996 marked the start of a booming local tourism industry.

Today, Myshkin with a population of just under 6,000, boasts the worlds only Museum of the Mouse along with 29 other tourist attractions, eight hotels and an increasing number of visitors from Russia and abroad. In 2012, 165,000 tourists visited the town, or 15,000 more compared to two years earlier, according to a 2013 report by local officials.

Unemployment is hardly an issue here. The population is involved in tourism and they seem to never run out of ideas. You can see a blacksmith pounding out a needle that is supposed to protect you from black magic. A bit farther down the street, a millers wife ushers you into her house to treat you to some tea and traditional Russian blini. And of course human-sized mice can be seen walking around the town, ready to play with you and give you useful advice.

What to do if you have two hours

Whatever man-made attractions might impress you in Myshkin, the humble beauty of its nature remains its biggest asset. The town is located on the high bank of the enormous Volga River a great advantage for the fans of landscapes and views. Take a stroll down the Volga embankment with your camera ready. To get the best vantage point, it is worth climbing the 15-meter-high bell tower of the Assumption Cathedral (Uspenskaya Ploshchad; +7 485 442 1167) just a short walk away from the embankment. You might be asked for a small fee to go up.

The cathedral itself is worth a short tour, too. It is the result of a joint effort of the Italian architect Johannes Manfrini and a group of Russian artists headed by serf Timofei Medvedev who painted the interior. The construction of the church, which began in 1805 and was sponsored by Myshkin residents, did not stop even during Russias fight against Napoleon in 1812.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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