| || |
Rousse is a town located on the right bank of the Danube River, at the outfall of the river Rusenski Lom. It is 97 km away from Svishtov, 146 km north-east of Pleven, 105 km north of Veliko Tarnovo, 63 km north-west of Razgrad, 111 km from Shumen, 125 km away from Silistra, 197 km north-west of Varna and 305 km away from Sofia city. Rousse is a district center with population of 183 821 and 45.5 m altitude.
This is the biggest Bulgarian port on the Danube, famous as "the Small Vienna" because of the great number of European style buildings. In 1954 a bridge was built near Rousse connecting the Bulgarian and Romanian waterside.
Rousse and the area around was settled already in the remote past, according to the archeological finds (since before 500 thousand years) discovered in the prehistoric town mound of Rousse.
In I century AC, during the time of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, there arose the Antique fortified settlement of Sexaginta Prista (Sixty ships, the Town of 60 ships), which can be found also like Sexanta Prista, Prista, and later like Pristis and Pristapolis. The name came from the Latin numeral name Sexaginta (sixty) and the Greek name (pristis), which means a kind of rapid warship with oars. The fortress was on the main road along the river Danube (from the today's Belgrad to the Danube delta) and from there led roads to the ancient Nove (Svistov), Marcianopol (Devnya), Odessos (Varna), Nikopolis ad Istrum (near the village of Nikyup, Veliko Tarnovo area).
The fortress survived till the end of VI - beginning of VII century, when it was destroyed by the Avars and rebuilt about IX-X century as the medieval Bulgarian settlement of Rusi (Rousse), which gradually turned into a fortified fortress, later called Gyurgevgrad.
At the end of XIII century in some chronicles and old maps the town appeared as a united settlement together with the opposite Gyurgevo and notes like Yorgovo, Yurukova, or with both names - Large and Little Gyurgevo, Rusi on this side and across the Danube, Rusi (Rousse) and Gyurgevo. After XVI century the town on the right bank of the river Danube (today's Rousse) became popular with the name Ruschuk. The travelers mentioned the strong fortifications of the settlement.
In 1811 Kutuzov carried out the famous battle of Ruschuk. The settlement was a part of the defensive quadrangle Ruschuk - Silistra - Varna - Shoumen and a port, famous with its good conditions for spending the winter of the ships. With active shipping along the Danube the access to the European culture was facilitated through the port town of Rousse. There was discovered a press type "Kaizer" with machines from Vienna, in which newspapers, books and textbooks were published. The bookshop of Hristo G. Danov appeared. For the needs of the secular education in Ruschuk Alexander Ruset published in Strasburg in 1843 the first geographic map of Bulgaria on Bulgarian language. In 1866 in Rousse appears the first railway station and railway line (Ruschuk - Varna) in Bulgaria. The newly built edifices (residential and public) resembled in architectural relation the beautiful capital of Vienna and the European fashion in clothing penetrates first in Rousse.
In Ruschuk as one of the main towns in the Danube area of the Ottoman Empire gathered many of the figures of the Bulgarian Revival and got into contact with the outcasts in Vlahia. In December 1871 there were founded the Rousse revolutionary committee - in the house of grandmother Tonka gathered the founders Nikola Obretenov, Toma Kardzhiev, Ilarion Dragostinov, Georgi Ikonomov and others. Three years later, in 1874, the committee of Rousse became central for Bulgaria and the Rousse revolutionary took participation in the preparation of the April rising.
The town was liberated from Turkish yoke on 20th of February 1878 and during that time it was the biggest one in the Bulgarian lands - with more than 20 thousand inhabitants. After the Liberation it became the largest economic centers of the Principality Bulgaria with fast developing economy. New edifices are building directly influenced by the European architectural styles and schools. In 1935 was founded Bulgarian River shipping, in 1940 the ferry Rousse - Gyurgevo. After the Second World War began the rapid development of the town and for comparatively short time it turned into one of the biggest Bulgarian industrial centers. In 1954 the Bridge of the Friendship was built (the Danube bridge) and later a new port, railways stations, airport etc.
The remarkable past and rich cultural history of the town turned it into a famous tourist center.
- In the Historical museum make an impression the Thracian treasure of Borovo, the silver treasure of Cherven, the collections of coins, European porcelain, traditional female costumes from the area (XIX century), ritual breads from Rousse region etc.
- The Museum of the town customs from the end of XIX - beginning of XX century (in original revival house luxuriously decorated by Viennese scene-painter in the style of the age) - the exposition traces the European influence in the customs of the urban population and represents interior of living room, drawing-room, bedroom, musical saloon etc.
- The house museum "Zahari Stoyanov" is arranged in building from 1898-1899 and represents the life and deed of the notable literary and public figure of Zahari Stoyanov.
- The Museum of "Baba Tonka (grandmother Tonka).
- The Temple of "The Holy Trinity" (1632) was many times rebuilt. It was painted in 1797 and the iconostasis was made in the beginning of XIX century. The icons were created in Moscow in the spirit of the Troitzko-Sergievska Monastery.
- Dohodnoto Zdanie (the profitable building - the old theatre) built in the style of Neoclassicism gives European appearance of Rousse. The edifice was built for theatre performances and to satisfy the grown needs of the free town.
- Among the remarkable architectural models are: the library "Lyuben Karavelov" (1911); the former "Secondary school for boys" (1894 - 1898); "The club of the cultural figures" (1900) with rich decoration; the building of the former bank of Buklovi brothers (1911) and the former Bulgarian credit bank (1924).
- The Pantheon of National Revival Heroes (1978) was built in the Park of the National Revival Heroes in connection with the 100 anniversary of the Bulgarian Liberation from Turkish yoke. In the pantheon were buried the great Bulgarian patriots Lyuben Karavelov, Angel Kunchev, Zahari Stoyanov, Stefan Karadzha, Panayot Hitov, baba Tonka and her children, Panayot Volov etc. In 2001 in the building of the pantheon was built the temple of "St. Paisii Hilendarski".
- The Monument of Liberty (1906) is a work of the notable Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi. What makes impression is the bronze statue of the Liberty with a sword in her left hand and raised right hand. In front of the ground two bronze lions guard the statue, 3.75 m high.
- Monuments - Museum exposition "Sexaginta Prista" in the central part of the town, the Art gallery, the Musical secondary school, the Catholic Church etc.
In Rousse there is an opera, philharmonic orchestra, drama and puppet theatre, university. Every year in the town organizes an international festival March musical days.
Sights in the surroundings:
- River Danube in its part near Rousse gives wonderful opportunities for rest, fishing, water sports, tourism and various entertainments. The picturesque riverside, attractive beaches, romance of the islands Lyulyaka and Mateya provides pleasant and salutary relaxation.
- Park Prista - 6 km far from Rousse along the road to the town of Byala. In the wide broad-leaved woods weave shapely alleys. There is a tourist hut of "Prista", camping "Lyulyaka", motel "Dunav" and the original restaurant "Fishing Hut". It is possible to visit the Danube island of Lyulyaka.
- Wood-park Lipnik - 12 km east of Rousse. It is a lovely place for rest a with beach and good possibilities of sports, tourism and entertainments. In woods of limes, oaks, ashl trees and hornbeams are located villas, restaurants, artificial lakes and camping; there is a zoo and a sport center.
- The medieval monastery "St. Dimitar Besarabovski" - about 10 km south from Rousse, near the village of Besarabovo, in the rocks by the river of Rusenski Lom. Today it is the only one inhabited rock monastery in the country (XV cenury).
- Natural park "Rusenski Lom" - some 20 km south of Rousse, in the valley of the river Rusenski Lom and the lowest streams of its feeders - Cherni, Beli and Malki (Svalenishki) Lom. In 1970 it is declared a national park which includes broad-leaved woodland with rich fauna (Egyptian vulture, dears, rabbits, imperial eagle, hunting falcon) several caves and the extremely beautiful valleys of the Rusenski Lom and its feeders. The picturesque gorges (at some places reaching 100 m inside the rock) are very popular and visited by tourists and mountaineers.
- The Rock Churches of Ivanovo - about 20 km far from Rousse, south of the Ivanovo village. It includes the rock monastery complex of "St. Archangel Michail" with medieval churches, chapels and monastic cells in the rocks on both sides of Rusenski Lom. These are evidence for the growth of a big colony of Hesychasts in XIII-XIV century, connected with the capital of that time - Tarnovo. The rocks are inhabited till XVII century. The Ivanovo rock churches and the area around them are declared an archeological reserve. They are part of the nature park "Rusenski Lom". From 1979 they are in the list of the world cultural heritage protected by UNESKO.
- Accessible for visiting is the church of "St. Bogoroditza" (Mother of God), built and painted with the support of tzar Ivan Alexandar (king Ivan Alexander). It is 16 m long, 4 m wide and 2.15 m high, located in the rocks 38 m from the road along the river. The church is reachable through steps hewn into the rock and safeguarded by railings. It consists of two premises and a small chapel. There are remains of rock monastic cells. The mural paintings distinguish by unusual expressiveness and perfect composition, defined as one of the most considerable achievements of the Bulgarian medieval art from XIV century.
- The Orlova Chuka cave - it is 3 km north-east of the Pepelina village and about 25 km south of Rousse, along the left branch of the river Cherni Lom. This is the second longest cave in Bulgaria (about 11 km) and a natural sight from 1963. Orlova Chuka is a complex system with labyrinths of tunnels and different sized halls: the Big Vestibule, the Pyramids, the Leafless forest, the huge Stone spindle, the Eagle, the amazing Cosmic hall, the Big screes (the largest hall in the cave) with queer domes. The cave was inhabited by the man during the Palaeolit and the Eneolit.
- The ruins of the Bulgarian medieval fortress of Cherven - archeological reserve approximately 30 km south of Rousse, near the village of Cherven. It was built over an ancient Thracian settlement and an early Byzantine fortress on unapproachable hill surrounded on three sides by the river of Cherni Lom. The natural protected place was extra fortified with complex imposing fortifications. The defences consisted of a citadel, located on the most inaccessible place of the hill (in the borders of the old Byzantine fort) and a real town (west of the citadel). In the Bulgarian country from XII-XIV century Cherven was an important economic, political, cultural-church and military center, reliable defence for the capital of Tarnovo from north. In XIVth century when it was concurred by the Turks, Cherven is plundered and burned down and gradually declines.