Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS
The next stop is Krasnoslobodsk, located just 50 km (31 miles) away from Staraya Terizmorga. The town was established in 1571 and is almost a hundred years older than Saransk. According to the latest census, it has a population of about 10,000 people. The town centre is full of former merchant houses whose prominent facades have determined the historical look of many Russian towns. Merchant houses were often decorated with rich carvings, intricate wrought iron lattices and solid cast iron staircases. There was even a special “merchant” way to lay the bricks.

In Krasnoslobodsk, number 6 Sovetskaya Street used to belong to merchant Ivan Sevastyanov. The two-storey stone building with a colonnade was built at the beginning of the nineteenth century on the lands of the former Pokrovsky Convent. Today the house is a listed building of federal importance.

Walking further along Sovetskaya Street to number 16, we come across a mansion that originally belonged to a merchant named Muromtsev. The house was built at the end of the eighteenth century in the Neo-Classical style. This urban estate stands on the high bank of the Moksha River and can be seen from the other side when you drive to Krasnoslobodsk from Saransk. It was on the banks of the Moksha River that the Krasnaya Sloboda fortress, which gave the town its name, was originally established. This military fortress burned down several times during the fires that frequently ravaged the area in the seventeenth century and did not survive to the present day.

It’s impossible to leave Krasnoslobodsk empty-handed. The students of the local art school make Mordva nesting dolls or matryoshkas although it should be said that this craft only appeared in the area about 40 years ago.