If you are looking to find some entrepreneurial spirit in Russia, you can can find it in the Golden Ring north of Moscow in the village of Myshkin. Armed with not much more than its name, the residents of Myshkin have developed their little town into an off-beat destination with international aspirations. Disneyland it is not, but Micky Mouse is still an honored citizen.
Mysh means mouse in Russian, and legend says the town was founded at the spot where a Russian nobleman was saved from a snake by a friendly mouse. The nobleman built a chapel on the spot and Myshkin was born. What is not legend is that the village has seen it’s fortunes rise and fall over the centuries.
Central to the village is the Mouse Museum. The three-room museum contains mice from around the world, some collected, some sent by mouse aficionados from around the globe. Each mouse has it’s own story and for the price of a tour you can hear as many stories for which you have time. Included are also books about mice and many other mice-related trinkets and nik naks.
There exists the virtual kingdom of Mouse Land. Depending on when you were born, you may already be a mouse. Fortunately, even if you were not born in the correct year, you can still become a citizen of Mouse Land.
Across the street from the Mouse Museum is the Historical Park that contains examples of traditional wooden architecture of Russia. These wooden structures are becoming increasingly rare in their original context. At the entrance to the park is a small museum housing everything from mammoth bones to everyday artifacts from various political periods of Russian history.
Within the park is located the Smirnoff museum. The Smirnoff family originated in the Yaroslavl region around Myshkin, and the museum chronicals their entrepreneurship of the Smirnoff family and the fortunes of the Smirnoff Vodka label. And yes, at the end of the tour is the chance to taste samples.