Saransk is a town of myths and legends, with a chequered past and big plans for the future. Remembering his trip to Saransk, Leo Tolstoy wrote in 1906: “Old pines with long trunks and short crowns. The soil is black, and a little stony… Backwoods. The Sura River, and the best sturgeon ever.” By 2018, when the FIFA World Cup arrives here, the myths of Saransk will have been transformed into architecture.