The Republic of Mordovia Mordovia is a multinational republic with a rich history and a unique national culture. This is where you can discover the traditions of the most populous Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia and see the collection of "the Russian Rodin"—the Mordovian sculptor Stepan Erzia. Visitors can touch the relics of the great naval commander Saint Fyodor Ushakov, discover the secret of the creation of one of the "Seven Wonders of the Finno-Ugric World", try national Mordovian dishes, and immerse themselves in the serenity of Mordovia's nature, its rich dense forests and oak woods.
The capital of Mordovia, Saransk, is one of the oldest towns in the Mid-Volga region, founded as a military fort in 1641, although according to legend, it appeared during the reign of Ivan the Terrible (1547–1584).
Saransk is famous for the Cathedral of the Holy and Righteous Warrior Fyodor Ushakov, one of the largest and most beautiful churches in Russia. A popular attraction for residents and visitors to the republic is S. D. Erzia Museum of Fine Arts containing the largest collection of works by "the Russian Rodin". You mustn't miss Millennium Square, which has the highest fountain in the Volga region—"the Star of Mordovia". The musical fountain is designed in the style of a Mordovian ornament and sprays multicolored water to a height of 45 meters. Saransk is known as the "City of Fountains" thanks to its nine complex water attractions, each of which is a work of art.
You cannot visit Mordovia without experiencing the region's wild nature. The republic's nature is very diverse, from dense Meshchersky forests in the north-west, to the forest-steppe in the south. The region contains one of the oldest nature reserve areas in Russia—Mordovian P. G. Smidovich Nature Reserve. This corner of untouched nature covers more than 32,000 hectares. The wide diversity of forest plants, lakes, animals, and birds gives this reserve the appearance of a nature museum with numerous environmental routes.
The Simkinsky Oak is a natural Mordovian monument. It is more than 420 years old and is known far outside the republic. It used to be a place for pagan sacrifices and today is a place of pilgrimage. People come from all over the country to see the tree that is to believed to have miracle powers that cure infertility.
Mordovia is famous for its Christian Orthodox holy sites and its crystal clear springs. One of the largest is the Monastery of John the Evangelist in Makarovka, a major center of pilgrimage in a picturesque area that is rightly called "Little Athos". When the Moksha River overflows, a beautiful view of the Sanaksar Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God appears, surrounded on three sides by water. The monastery's main shrine is the world-famous tomb of the Naval Admiral Fyodor Ushakov.
In the Erzya village of Podlesnaya Tavla, craftsmen create one of the seven wonders of the Finno-Ugric world—Tavla wooden toys. When you arrive in Podlesnaya Tavla, you must visit the Experimental Children's Art School and Museum Ethno-Kudo named after V. I. Romashkin, where you can discover the secrets of Tavla wood carving, which is unique in Russia. Here you can attend a master class and try yourself in the role of a craftsman by creating your own handcrafted item.
Visitors to Staraya Terizmorga can discover the unique culture of the Mordovian people, their national character, traditions and customs in the open-air ethnographic museum Krestyanskaya Usadba in the Center for National Culture. The museum recreates the everyday life of villagers and exhibits needlework, national costumes, and items of applied art.