Ples State Historical, Architectural and Art Museum Preserve
Ples, Sobornaya Gora, 1
Phones: +7 (49339) 4-34-90
Web site: http://ples-museum.ru/
Have a stroll around the old town and see the paintings of great landscape artistsAbout three hundred historical monuments are located on the territory of the museum-preserve. They are very diverse – you can find ancient architectural structures and unique natural retreats with rare plants and animals here. Ples is a quite popular destination with travelers, both foreign and Russian.
One of the most important attractions of the preserve is the House-Museum of Isaac Levitan. For nearly four decades it has been one of the most visited museums in the region. The museum was opened 1972. Paintings by Levitan and his friends are exhibited there. Some of them were donated to the museum after it had been opened. The artist’s personal belongings, such as an easel stained with paints, a recently restored desk and bookcase, chess set, exhibition catalogs, albums, magazines and photographs are of particular interest. On the embankment, in the building of the former flour rows of the 19th century, there is a display entitled Artistic Crafts of the Ivanovo Region. It showcases the works of different craftsmen, samples of weaving and embroidery, jewelry, and lacquer miniatures. This small museum was opened in May 2008 and its collection includes about two hundred different exhibits. Among the most interesting ones is a furniture set, painted by one of the best Palekh illustrators Andrei Mikhailovich Kurkin, and the operating manual for a Jacquard loom made in the 19th century. With the aid of hand-punched perforated cards, one can create the most complex patterns from interweaving threads. Another place worth visiting is the Public Places museum and exhibition complex. It is located on Sobornaya (Cathedral) Hill, in a building which was erected in 1786. At various times it housed the City Council, the City Public Bank and the Higher Starting School for Men, while wine was stored in its cellars. The museum was opened to the public after a long and thorough restoration process. You can also see about 400 items of the unique “Alabuga treasure” there. These are items of women’s jewelry dating back to the 7th century AD, sacrificed during the construction works of a new section of the Penkovsky settlement rampart.
Ples is an ancient Russian town. The town was first mentioned in the Novgorod Chronicles in 1141. In the second half of the 12th century it became a real stronghold of princely power, however, the erected fortress was destroyed by the Tatar-Mongols. The fortress was rebuilt in 1409, but two hundred years later the town was conquered again, and the fortress ceased to exist... It has not been restored since then. After that, the guard military outpost on the Volga was no longer needed. In the 17th century, Ples developed into a trading city port. It became a district center and even had its own coat of arms. A linen factory, two plants, ten blacksmith shops and much more were built in the city. Local blacksmiths, it is worth noting, were known far beyond the realms of the city. Everything changed when in the autumn of 1871, the Ivanovo-Kineshma railway line was launched. Many merchants moved their business to Kineshma, and the working population followed soon after. Subsequently, life in the city came to a standstill. Ples became a favorite destination among tourists. Local residents rented their houses to holiday-makers. The famous Russian artist Isaac Levitan settled in one of those houses. For three years in a row, he spent his summer in Ples and painted over 200 paintings in these lands. Ples is still very popular with tourists today. The Ples State Historical, Architectural and Art Museum Preserve was opened in 1982. And in 2010 the city was entered into the list of historical settlements of federal significance.
The furnishing of memorial rooms in the penthouse apartment of the Levitan house-museum was reconstructed with the assistance of the granddaughter of the former owner of the house, merchant A.I. Solodovnikov. One of the museums within the reserve, housing a collection of landscape paintings, is located in an old mansion under a red roof. This large merchant’s house is the one depicted in Isaac Levitan’s painting Evening: Golden Reach.