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Murom Still Lives in a Fairy Tale

Published: November 28, 2012 (Issue # 1737)



  • The Monastery of the Transfiguration is an example of the austere 16th-century style. It lacks decorations and features monumental columns.
    Photo: OLGA SUKHOVA / FOR SPT

  • The Hagiography of Pyotr and Fevronia, a 17th-century icon that depicts Muroms kremlin, its churches and the Oka River.
    Photo: COURTESY OF THE MUROM HISTORY AND ART MUSEUM

  • A horse-shaped Muroma pendant. 
    Photo: COURTESY OF THE MUROM HISTORY AND ART MUSEUM

  • MUROM
    Photo:

Locals complain that outsiders are often surprised to find out that Murom actually exists, having heard of the small town in the Vladimir region only from fairy tales.

Murom is featured in a wide range of literature, usually as a gateway into a fantasy world of epic battles, dragons, heroic quests, slain martyrs, gods, princes and saints or a time machine that brings you back to the age of Vikings, pagan tribes and fierce nomads.

Murom along with Ladoga, Beloozero, Izborsk, Rostov, Polotsk, Smolensk, Novgorod and Kiev is one of the first cities of Ancient Rus. The Primary Chronicle first mentions all of them in 862-863.

At the time, Finnic tribes held undisputed sway over vast territories all the way from modern Finland to the Volga basin, and one of them muroma lived where the modern city is now. Finnish linguist Arja Ahlqvist translates the tribes name from the now dead Muromian language as people living on a hill near water.

The citys subsequent history revolves around several myths. The most famous one is about Ilya Muromets, the local analogue of Hercules and the central hero of Bylinas the cycle of epic poetry sometimes called Russias Iliad.

When the glory of ancient battles faded away, in the 16th to 19th centuries Murom became a quiet merchant town. The vibrant commercial culture survived through the Soviet period until this day; the number of retail outlets per capita is far higher than in Moscow.

Despite being relatively far from Moscow, Murom is in some ways a commuter town, with many residents regularly traveling to work in the capital.

Murom is linked with Moscow through the Gorky (formerly known as Kazan) railroad, the main artery connecting European Russia with Siberia. Russian Railways has been a major employer and shaped the development of the Kazanka neighborhood near Muroms railway station, and it even used to own stores and other facilities there in the Soviet era.

Engineering giants were built in Murom during that period but they fell on hard times in the 1990s due to a lack of market demand. Since then, the citys economy has refocused on retail and other service industries, and currently about 50 percent of its residents are employed in consumer goods industries. But the defense plants have also recovered some of their clout as the economy expanded and defense purchases soared in the 2000s.

Given the citys ancient history, one would assume that the tourism industry would be booming. But currently, few visitors come to Murom (compared with cities like Suzdal and Vladimir) due to a lack of infrastructure and its former closed city status.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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