Ivanovo Oblast is a place full of artisans famous since ancient times for miniature lacquer and icon painting art, weaving, fabric painting, and jewelery making. The most visited place in Oblast is the beautiful town Plyos, depicted in the paintings of Isaac Levitan. The special Plyos light, the unusual terrain of the Volga banks and provincial atmosphere attract tourists, artists, and photographers. Every year Ivanovo Oblast turns into a world center for independent photography for a few days when the Andrei Tarkovsky International Zerkalo Film Festival is held in the towns of Ivanovo, Plyos, and Yuryevets.
Ivanovo Oblast is one of the most environmentally friendly regions in Central Russia. The sanitary and epidemiological authorities have confirmed that the water in some of the region's rivers is drinkable. The clearest lakes, rivers, and wonderful dense forests can be found in Yuzhsky District, which is even called the central Russian Karelia. People come here for hunting and fishing, to gather berries and mushrooms, and also to rest in the local health resorts and centers. Ivanovo Oblast is home to more than 150 lakes and about 1,700 rivers. The largest river is, obviously, the Volga, which contains the Gorky Reservoir.
Ivanovo Oblast has long been populated by artisans; the region's traditional crafts include: weaving, pottery, icon painting, lacquer miniatures, willow weaving, and needlework. Palekh is the center of icon painting and lacquer miniatures, Kholuy makes lacquer miniatures, Shuya produces accordions, Privolzhsk specializes in jewelery, while Ryapolovo specializes in hand-patterned weaving. The towns of Puchezh, Ivanovo, Pestyaki, and Verkhny Landekh are centers of needlework. But most of all, Ivanovo Oblast is famous for its textiles: linen and cotton fabrics have been produced here for centuries, first on spinning wheels and weaver's looms, and now on modern automated equipment.
The unusual names of the villages—Purekh, Palekh, Landekh, Sezukh, Lukh, and Lyulekh—were given by Finno-Ugric tribes who lived in this area before the arrival of the Slavs.
The great film director and screenwriter Andrei Tarkovsky was born in the village of Zavrazhye, that used to be part of Ivanovo Oblast. He returned to Ivanovo Oblast during the war when his mother took him and his sister to Yuryevets. The house where the Tarkovsky family lived now contains the Andrei Tarkovsky museum. The cinema shows the director's films, and his archives are stored in the museum. The Andrei Tarkovsky International Zerkalo Film Festival has been held every summer since 2007 in Ivanovo Oblast.