Ivanovo region: textiles, nature and Russian province

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Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Ivanovo

  • Federal District: Central

  • Language(s): Russian

  • Population: 406,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of Ivanovo region

Travel around Ivanovo region

What do I expect from travel? For everybody answer will be special. Someone goes for vivid entertainment, inspiring stories and tales that can be told endlessly. Someone seeks to test their strength, to get into the deepest jungle in the hope of getting out and to confirm their confidence in strength. For someone, rest is silence and the fresh smell of the morning forest, sunsets on the river bank and a cool breeze in the fields. And someone just wants to escape from the city, away from everyday worries and anxieties. When I was planning to go to the Ivanovo region, I did not expect anything special. I had certain stereotypes about this place: "Ivanovo is the city of brides", "center of the textile industry" and "Russian province". My acquaintances said that they had never been to Ivanovo, and certainly not aspiring to get there in the near future. "What is there to do?" they asked and went to book flights to the resorts of Turkey or hiking in the mountains near Sochi. And I pack my favorite backpack and plan a trip itinerary. I try to escape from Moscow (but not far), take a break from working life and gain new strength through travel. I want to test my stereotypes and learn something new about these places. In anticipation of new experiences and interesting experience, I took the train to Shuya. And I never regretted it!

Ivanovo region is located very close to Moscow - 3 hours by train or car. But it is radically different from the capital at all. Gradually, major roads and highways are replaced by county roads, wooden huts are replacing high-rise buildings, and the fields and forests stretching into the distance strongly reminded me that soon a completely different rural life will meet on the way. When I got off the train in the city of Shuya, the third largest in the region, I seemed to be in the distant past. I was surrounded by wooden huts with skillful platbands, horse carts scurried along the roads next to the cars, and the smoke rising over some houses spoke of the presence of stoves there. The single-storey houses in the center of the city, executed in the classic Soviet style, well-groomed and tidy, created a special atmosphere of antiquity and comfort, which immediately penetrated my heart and remained in it for the whole trip. The center of Shuya is a portal to the faraway past, filled with trade and handicraft, peasants and workers, monks and parishioners. Here rises the massive bell tower of the Vosnesensky Cathedral, one of the highest in Europe, and right next to it on the market locals sell their own products and famous soap, known far beyond Shuya.

While in Shuya, you should definitely visit the ancient village of Dunilovo. It was once one of the richest settlements in the region, but today it is on the sidelines of civilization. It seems that time has stopped here, and only the gilded domes of churches towering over wooden huts proclaim that life is still flowing here. It flows steadily, calmly, in silence and pacification and far from the modern blessings of civilization. If you want to meet the sunrise in the real Russian province, overlooking the Orthodox monastery, filled with golden fog, then you definitely should come here! And not far from Dunilovo there is the Nikolo-Shartomsky Monastery, which is one of the oldest in Russia and dates its history since the XIII century.

 

But this is not the end of the wonders of Ivanovo region. Just half an hour from Shuya is the village of Palekh, famous throughout the country for its lacquer miniature. The history of Palekh art goes back to the 17th century when mastera of icon painting worked here, who, together with their colleagues from Mstera and Kholuy, created magnificent lacquered masterpieces by participating in the murals of the Faceted Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin, the temples of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra and the Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow. Preserving for centuries their craft traditions, craftsmen still make Palekh Art one of the best in the region, which can be perfectly seen in the local museum of artBut what is about other famous things in Ivanovo region, in addition to Shuya, Palekh and Orthodox churches? The answer to this question lies in the history of the region, which can be found out while walking around the city of Ivanovo and visiting some of its museums.

The Ivanovo region was created about 100 years ago after the October Revolution, when in 1918 the Ivanovo-Voznesensky province was created. Local workers and artisans showed special zeal during the revolution, which Vladimir Lenin himself noted in his message to the Soviet people: "... the Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ivanovo-Voznesensky proletariat ... proved in practice that it would not yield to the conquest of the revolution at any cost." This phrase now flaunts the central square in Ivanovo, recalling one of the most significant events in the history of this region.

But even before 1918, many significant events took place in the region. The first settlements in this area emerged as early as the 11th and 12th centuries - Plyos, Yuryevets, Shuya, Kineshma and Kokhma. All of them were located on the banks of the Volga River, which was a link in the trade of local residents with merchants from distant lands. However, during the Tatar-Mongol invasion, these lands were in desolation, and began to recover only after joining the Moscow principality. In 1410, a new fortress was created in Plyos to protect the surrounding lands, which gave a new impetus to the development of the region. To this day, only the cores and a huge rampart remains from the fortress, from which you can contemplate an incredible landscape ... but lets go back to history.

In the 15th century, local lands were subject to frequent enemy raids. Volga robbers, Kazan Tatars and fugitive peasants more than once plundered villages and seized merchant caravans, but with the strengthening of Moscow, the capture of Kazan and the construction of several fortresses in the district, the raids stopped, and the region began to develop strongly. The main occupations were peasantry, weaving and jewelry. From Shuya came a rich family of princes Shuisky, who helped Moscow to cope with False Dmitry I in the Time of Troubles. The invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian invaders greatly undermined the region's economy, but local residents actively defended their lands and were among the most daring and ardent militias. With the accession to Moscow of the southern lands, arable farming became even more disadvantageous in the local lands, and therefore the flax and textile industry began to develop here even more. One of the first textile manufactories was built in Ivanovo, where it remains to this day. At the end of the 19th century, there were more than 48 flax-making factories throughout the region, employing more than 10,000 people. Thus, the Ivanovo district village became a major industrial center of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, and at the beginning of the 20th century a powerful revolutionary movement of workers (strikes) arose here that played an important role in the First Russian Revolution, during which the first citywide council appeared in Russia. In memory of this event, a memorial "Red Talka" was erected in Ivanovo. After the October Revolution, the region finally secured the territory and status of the textile center of the USSR, which was maintained throughout all its Soviet history.

However, the post-Soviet period has become a black page for the Ivanovo region. Most of the enterprises went bankrupt and were closed, and without jobs in the textile industry, the residents of the region found it hard to live on. Thus began a large outflow of villagers from the region to Ivanovo, which continues today. Many villages in Ivanovo district are empty or are in a dilapidated state, while the city of Ivanovo itself has become a classic small city in Russia. Many factories have closed here, but at least there was an opportunity to find work in the service sector. The stagnation that has engulfed the region is gradually fading away today. The city of Ivanovo is growing and developing, and with it new opportunities for travel and tourism are opening up!

A walk around the city of Ivanovo can surprise only a person who has never seen classical Soviet architecture. Although the city was not subjected to German attacks during the Great Patriotic War, most of the buildings here were built after its completion due to the strong influx of people from the region and the development of the textile industry. The entire city center is a solid panel building, which left no stone to old wooden buildings. Walking along the Lenin and Sheremetyevsky avenues, you can see all the most beautiful places in the city - the newest Vosnesensky Cathedral and the ancient Vvedensky Monastery, a memorial to workers of the rear and Revolution Square, the university quarter and art places (philharmonic society, theater, art square), beautiful museums (Ivanovo textile, technical museum and art museum) and modern shopping galleries. In fact, the whole life of the city is concentrated inside these two avenues, behind which typical residential neighborhoods rise. But I assure you - a walk along the embankment of the Uvod River and a visit to all these places will give you great pleasure!

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But if you are suddenly tired of monotonous brick walls, then it's time to go to one of the most beautiful cities in Russia - Plyos. Here ancient battles took place, the artist Levitan painted his unique landscapes and the trade history of the textile region was going on. Today Plyos is a small county settlement, stretching along the high banks of the Volga, which is filled with peace and tranquility. Well-groomed wooden huts with stone pavements, golden domes of churches on the background of the river, the rustle of birch groves under the Volga breeze ... all this creates an incredible atmosphere of comfort and warmth, which is beyond any words. Even the camera is sometimes not able to reflect all the feelings that you experience when contemplating this beauty. Although this place had never been dear to me, something inside responded to the heart, and the soul became light and soared upwards. For the sake of these sensations I want to come here as often as possible. But it is better to do this on weekdays, so as not to meet crowds of tourists who want to do the same (but without involvement in the atmosphere). It is best to come to Plyos for a couple of days - this is just enough to fully enjoy the local atmosphere. Stroll along its quiet streets, visit the house-museum of Levitan, relax on the quiet Volga embankment or take a walk along the river by boat, and at sunset be sure to climb the rampart, where the bright red sun will set over the Volga and illuminate the evening Plyos with its soft light. And if you want to taste local culinary or handicrafts, just look in the morning at the market square, and you will be lucky!