There is only one town in the world that is named in the honor of Mouse. Only here the world’s sole museum of Mouse boasts enormous collections of decorative mice. A Mouse in this town is more than just a smart and crafty animal – it is a symbol of life and prosperity.Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the small mouse town every year to kneel before the great Mice.
The town is full with tales and legends. The very atmosphere and architecture of town take us as though to a completely different world, to another planet – the planet ruled by Mice.
The foundation of Myshkin is linked with an interesting legend. Once a prince attracted by picturesque sites of the future town of Myshkin went hunting. Tired from the long saturated day he decided to rest on the high bank of Volga River. The prince slept several hours and all of a sudden was awaked by a mouse that ran over his face. At first the prince was angered but suddenly he saw the snake that was creeping up. “The mouse saved my life!” – he uttered. He than called the armed force and ordered to build the temple in honor of Saint Boris and Gleb on that place. The town appeared around the temple and got the name of Myshkin (Mysh means mouse in Russian). That is the legend.
But the facts state that people lived on the site of contemporary Myshkin already in V-III centuries B.C.
The high hill on the Volga bank, opposite the mouth of big Yuhot River, was ideal for ancient Russian town. Archaeological investigations prove that the town existed on that place in XI-XIII centuries. Unfortunately, the town stood short – it was damaged during the war between Novgorod and Suzdal princes in the middle of XII century. And in 1238 it was completely destroyed by Tartars. Later, Myshkin was rebuilt as a small village.
In XV-XVII centuries the lands around Myshkin belonged to Shumorovsky, Ushaty, Yukhotsky, Mezetsky, Mstislavsky princes and later – to Chudov monastery. In 1551 the walls and towers of Sviyazhsk town in the possessions of Ushaty princes were cut and the town was than removed down the Volga River and became the strong point of Russian troops while Kazan was taken by assault.
The location of Myshkin happened to be favorable thanks to the vicinity of Volga rapids, among which the Myshkin gate stood out for the complexity of ship navigation. Enterprising Myshkin citizens mastered piloting and earned good money by navigating merchant’s ships through rapids.
According to the administrative reform of Catherine II Myshkin got the status of town in 1777; in 1778 it got the coat of arms with Yaroslavl bear in the upper part and with a mouse in the lower part, and in 1780 it got the construction layout, which envisaged block structure preserved in general till our days. Two cathedrals had become the composition centers of town: Nikolsky, which had already existed before Myshkin was granted the status of town, and Uspensky, which was built in the first half of XIX century with the donations of Myshkin merchants.
Myshkin students of local lore V.A. Poretsky, A.S. Molochkov, A.K. Saltykov, art critic Y. Gerchuk and other scientists long strived for to restore historical justice and fought to preserve Myshkin’ originality. With active participation of V.A. Grechukhin and his disciples people’s local lore museum was established in 1966. It enabled many Myshkin citizens and town guests to learn the history of native land much better.
The communists, that took power in 1917, did not need Myshkin as a cultural center and aspired to destroy everything that had been built before. The Opochinin library was closed, the majority of books were destroyed and the rest were removed to Rybinsk and Yaroslavl. All temples were closed, part of them - demolished. In 1927, for the second time in its history, Myshkin lost its status of town and was converted into Myshkino village (the settlement of urban type since 1943). During the construction of Rybinsk reservoir in the 40-th of XX century vast lands were flooded and the third part of Myshkin was completely blown off. The construction of Severgazprom compressor station in 1969 saved the town from total desolation.
Myshkin saw many changes during perestroika and the following years. In 1991 the town status and primordial name were returned, the famous Opochinin library was revived. The world’s sole museum of Mouse was opened in antique house of Litvinov merchants.
And on the border of millennium the town got two more museums. One of them is dedicated to the famous vodka producer P.A. Smirnov, and the other one – to the antique Russian craftsmanship – valenok making.
New houses are built with the observance of classical traditions of wooden architecture.