Ruse (also transliterated as Rousse or Russe) is the fifth-largest city in Bulgaria. Ruse is located in the northeastern part of the country, on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu, 300 km (186 mi) from the capital Sofia and 200 km (124 mi) from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is the most significant Bulgarian river port, serving an important part of the international trade of the country.
Ruse is known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, which attracts many tourists. It is often called the Little Vienna. The Ruse-Giurgiu Friendship Bridge, the only one in the shared Bulgarian-Romanian section of the Danube, crosses the river here.
The fortress was located on the main road between Singidunum (modern Belgrade) and the Danube Delta and was destroyed in the 6th century by Avar and Slavic raids. Hungarian historian Felix Philipp Kanitz was the first to identify Sexaginta Prista with Ruse, but the Škorpil brothers demonstrated the link later through studying inscriptions, coins, graves, and objects of daily life. An inscription from the reign of Diocletian proves that the city was rebuilt as a praesidium (a large fortification) after it was destroyed by the Goths in 250 CE.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, during the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire, a fortified settlement called Rusi (also Golyamo Yorgovo), first mentioned in 1380, emerged near the ruins of the Roman town. It later strengthened its position as an important trade centre with the lands on the opposite side of the Danube, until it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1388. Scholars suggest that the city on the river bank derived its present name from the Cherven fortress through the root rous, which is present in many Slavic languages and is a cognate of French rouge and Latin rusos.
During Ottoman rule, the invaders destroyed the town, reacting to a 1595 unsuccessful liberation attempt by a joint Vlach-Bulgarian army, led by Michael the Brave. After its rebuilding in the following years, Ruse was dubbed Rusçuk (Turkish for "little Ruse") and had again expanded into a large fortress by the 18th century. It later grew into one of the most important Ottoman towns on the Danube and an administrative centre of Tuna Vilayet, which extended from Varna and Tulcea to Sofia and Niš.
After it was liberated from the Ottoman Empire on 20 February 1878, Ruse was one of the key cultural and economic centres of the country. Intensive building during the period changed the city's architectural appearance to a typical Central European one.
|The Pantheon of National Revival Heroes|
The return of Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria in September 1940 fostered good conditions for restoration of the city's leading role. It became a provincial centre, and economic activity revived. The construction of the Ruse-Giurgiu bridge in 1954 and the fast industrialization gave a new push to development. Ruse emerged again as an important economic, transport, cultural, and educational hub. Engineering, chemical, and light industries expanded; a large harbor was built; and the city became a university centre. At the 1985 census, a population of more than 186,000 was reported.
In the early 1980s, Ruse entered a dark period of its history. The Verachim factory was built in Giurgiu, which polluted the air between 1980 and 1987, impacting the city's development. Population decreased, and 15,000 people moved out between 1985 and 1992. Fortunately, in 1987, the Romanian factory ceased the pollution, under pressure from environmental organizations on both Bulgarian and Romanian communist leadership. Organizations, such as Ekoglasnost, provoked nationwide demonstrations and strongly influenced the change to democracy.
During the 1990s, the economic crisis in Bulgaria affected Ruse. Most big companies suffered a decline and unemployment increased, which led to renewed emigration waves. Since 2000, the city has been continually regaining its former leading status.
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of Bulgarian wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.
Traditionally Bulgarians have consumed a notable quantity of yoghurt per head and is noted historically for the production of high quality yoghurt, including using a unique variety of micro-organism calledLactobacillus bulgaricus in the manufacturing process. It has even been claimed that yoghurt originates from Bulgaria. Though this cannot be substantiated, Bulgaria has been part of a region that has cultivated and consumed yoghurt from as far back as 3000 BC.
- The St Paul of the Cross Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Ruse. It is the cathedral church of the Nikopol diocese and it is dedicated to Saint Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists. Built in 1890 to the designs of the Italian architect Valentino, the cathedral is a rare example of Gothic Revival architecture (and Brick Gothic in particular) in the country. The interior is decorated with sculptures and stained glass windows.
- The Monument of Liberty, was built at the beginning of the 20th century by the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi. As time went by, it gained significance as one of the city's symbols, and now forms a part of her coat of arms. The structure is a pyramidal one. The statue on top represents a female figure, who is holding a sword in her left hand, while pointing with her right hand to the direction from where the national liberators arrived. One of the two bronze lions at the base is tearing the yoke chains with his mouth, whilst the other defends the Shield of Freedom. There are reliefs of resistance scenes on the pedestal. Two cannons are placed at the rear. The exact year of opening is not known for certain — 1906, 1908, and 1909 have been suggested, based on labels, photographs, and the Encyclopedia of fine arts in Bulgaria. All sources cite the date 11 August, though. The booklet The revoulutionaries' monument in Rousse claims to have proven that the correct year is 1909.
- The Old High School of Music is a currently abandoned historic building in Ruse, Bulgaria, located at 33 Borisova Street, which is to become a private cultural and arts centre. The building was constructed in 1900–1901 by Ruse's Protestant community to be used by the German Protestant school, as well as to accommodate its boarding house, kindergarten and orphanage. Funds (a total of 320,000 German gold marks) were secured by the local pastor Theodor Wandemann. The four-storey edifice was designed by the architect Udo Ribau and the construction was supervised by the engineers Todor Tonev and Merbach. The architectural style is eclectic, combining Neoclassical and Gothic Revival elements and Northern European influences.
- The Pantheon of National Revival Heroes is a Bulgarian national monument and an ossuary. 39 famous Bulgarians are buried in it, including Lyuben Karavelov, Zahari Stoyanov, Stefan Karadzha, Panayot Hitov, Tonka Obretenova, Nikola Obretenov, Panayot Volov, Angel Kanchev, etc.; 453 more people—participants in Botev's detachment, the Chervena Voda detachment, in the April uprising, and other revolutionaries have been honoured by writing their names in the interior. An eternal fire burns in the middle under the gold-plated dome. The Pantheon is one of the '100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria'. In order to build the Pantheon in 1977, the "All Saints" church in the old Rousse cemetery was demolished. The new building was open for visitors on 28 February 1978. After a public discussion in 2001, the Patheon was "Christianised" by placing a cross on top of its dome. The "St Paisius of Hilendar" chapel, as well as a museum exposition, were founded then.
- Roman fortress Sexaginta Prista. The castle and the fleet station called Sexsaginta Prista were built under the Roman Emperor Vespasianus (69 - 79 A.D.) The castle was on the main road from where Belgrade is today to the delta of the Danube River. No systematic excavations have been made on the site where the castle used to be. However, some rescue excavations have been made on spots jeopardised by modern city development. It is through them that the northeastern battle tower, a part of the northern wall and the remains of four buildings have been investigated. The tower is rectangle, its inner sizes 4,00 Х 3,80 m and its walls 2,70 m thick. 50 m of the northern wall are preserved. Its width is between 2,75 and 3,00 m.