Following legend, the symbol of Myshkin is a mouse. According to this legend, Prince Miloslavsky was resting on the Volga after some hunting and fell asleep. He was annoyed when he was suddenly awoken by a mouse, but then noticed that it had saved him from a dangerous snake that was crawling towards him. After such a miraculous escape, the Prince ordered a chapel to be built on the spot, and later the town of Myshkin grew around this chapel.
The town houses what is believed to be the world’s only Museum of Mice. Recently three-storied “Mouse Chambers” have been built. Several interactive sites have been established in the town including museums devoted to crafts, felt boots, peasant architecture, linen, ship pilots and a Pyotr Smirnoff museum devoted to the inventor of the famous vodka.
Smirnoff is one of the best known brands of vodka in the World and is exported globally to over 130 countries. Smirnoff vodka was created by Pyotr Smirnoff (1831-1898) who was originally a serf farmer from the village of Kayurovo in the Myshkin District of Yaroslavl Oblast. After he got his freedom from serfdom, Pyotr and his father moved to Moscow where Pyotr grew and enhanced his family’s wine trade business into the largest vodka production company in Russia, bearing the trade mark “P. A. Smirnoff”. The ex-farmer was an outstanding expert in his trade, following national traditions and tastes. He was bold enough to invent new products and always followed the motto: “Value honour more than profit!". At the end of the 19th century his strong drinks were awarded gold medals at many European and American exhibitions and were marked with three Russian Empire national emblem stamps as the sign of high quality.
This small provincial town with a population of just six thousand has become one of the fastest growing tourist sites of Central Russia in the past decade. In 1995 only 6.5 thousand tourists visited Myshkin, whereas in 2008 this figure had increased to more than 140 thousand.