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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 Russia’s 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 world’s 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 miller’s 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 Russia’s fight against Napoleon in 1812.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Dec. 18


Improve your English and knowledge of British culture during today’s FORM lesson at the British Book Center. These free English lessons with a native speaker elaborate not only on grammar particulars but cultural topics as well. Today’s event will discuss the BBC Two documentary “Victorian Farm Christmas.”



Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


TheZenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



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