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Rousse Tours

Visit Rousse as part of our Bulgarian UNESCO Sites Programme

Settlements: Rousse

Rousse - Pictures Of Bulgaria
The town of Rousse (162 128 inhabitants, 50 metres above sea level) is located on the high right bank of the Danube River, 496 m from the outflow of the big river. It is 320 km north-east of Sofia, 203 km north-west of Varna, 106 km north-east of Veliko Turnovo, 146 km north-east of Pleven, 97 km north-east of Svishtov, 122 km south-west of Silistra, 66 km north-west of Razgrad. The greatest and the most important Bulgarian town on the Danube River, known also as Little Vienna because of its ancient architecture. It is a regional administrative centre.

History: The famous Rousse mound - a prehistoric settlement existed more than 5000 years ago is located within the boundaries of the modern town. At the beginning of the new era on a part of the territory of the modern town of Rousse an ancient settlement of Sexaginta Prista (The sixty ships) emerged, where prista means a particular type of a Greek river guard vessel. Probably it was founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian (69-79). Later on it was known under the names of Pristis and Pristapolis. It existed up to the 6th century, when the Avars brought it to ruins. In Medieval times a new settlement emerged near the ruins of the ancient settlement, and information about it was found for the first time in the Broush Guidebook of the 16th century under the name of Rossi. In the Sultan Register of 1431 and in a Peace Treaty concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the Magyar state dated 20th of August 1503 the settlement was mentioned under the name of Roussi. In Ahmed Neshri chronicles as well as in many other old maps the town was shown as a wholesome town together with the settlement of Giurgiu on the opposite side of the Danube River named Yorgogi, Yorgovo, Yuroukova, Roussi on both sides of the Danube River, Giurgiu on both sides of the Danube River.

In 1595 the Wallachian ruler Mihai Vityazoul (the Courageous) made an attempt to liberate Bulgaria with an Wallah-Bulgarian army and the town was brought to ruins. After its reconstruction at the beginning of the 17th century it was given the name of Rouschouk (little Roussi). The town turned into an important port and a strong border fortress. In 1811 the Russian General Koutouzov carried out the famous Rouschouk battle and became known as a talented military commander. In 1864 the town became the centre of the Danube District of the Ottoman Empire. In 1866 the building of the first railway road in Bulgarian lands - Rouschouk-Varna was completed. The first modern agricultural farm was founded under the name of Noumine (Exemplary farm). The River Management was founded as well and in a short period of time 7 steam ships and 15 barges were purchased. A printing house was opened with printing machines from Vienna where newspapers, books and textbooks were printed. The bookshop of Hristo G. Danov was opened at that time. To meet the needs of the secular education in Rouschouk in 1843 Alexander Rousset published in Strasbourg the first geographical map in Bulgarian.

European influence penetrated into the town through the active river transport along the Danube River (predominantly Austro-Hungarian ships) and this had positive impact on the development of the town. Architecture developed, too and the construction of private and public buildings resembling the style of the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Vienna commenced. The European fashion in clothing also penetrated first in this Bulgarian town.

On the 1st January 1866 the first in Bulgaria meteorological observations began here with modern Austrian equipment.

Rouschouk was not left aside from the struggle for spiritual and national liberation either, moreover that in its capacity of being a gate to Europe it was here that the modern freedom-loving ideas of the Old Continent made their way into the country. Zora (Dawn) Chitalishte (reading room and community centre) and the home of the extraordinary Bulgarian woman patriot baba (grandmother) Tonka Obretenova became centres of the national struggle. A lot of revolutionaries were assisted to leave the Empire or to return to their Fatherland. It was here that Angel Kunchev - one of the most faithful and ardent followers of Vassil Levski died here during an exchange of fire with the Turkish police. Baba Tonka, her sons and daughters, revolutionaries who gave their lives for the freedom of Bulgaria - Stefan Karadzha, Angel Kunchev, Zahari Stoyanov, Lyuben Karavelov, Panayot Hitov, Hristo Makedonski, Dimitur Tsenovich and a lot of other great Bulgarians were buried in this town.

A Pantheon-Charnel House of the national Revival heroes with an everlasting fire was opened in Rousse in 1979. The bones of many of the 453 dignified Bulgarians, who were born in or who linked their lives with this town and whose names are inscribed in the Pantheon were collected in it. On 20th February 1878 the Russian Army led by General Totleben entered Rouschouk and was enthusiastically welcomed by the population led by Archbishop Kliment Branitski (Vassil Droumev).

The town was the biggest in the liberated Bulgarian lands over 20 000 inhabitants. On 31st July 1879 the Bulgarian flag of the ships donated by Russia was risen which marked the beginning of the organised Bulgarian river navigation. The first marine technical school, later on moved to Varna, was opened here in 1881. The same year was found the first Bulgarian bank Girdap. In 1889 the first Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, and two years later the first joint-stock insurance company Bulgaria - were established in Rousse. As of the end of the 19th century a lot of celebrated architects did their creative work in the liberated of Rousse (Edward Winter, Udo Ribau, Georg Lang, Edwin Petritski, Negos Bedrossyan, Todor Tonev, Nikola Lazarov and others), painter-decorators (Karlo Francescani, Giovanni Pitor and others), landscapers (Ferdinand Halober, Rihard Noyvirt and others). It is not due to randomness that Rousse is being considered the most European Bulgarian town even nowadays. The writers Elias Kaneti, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for 1981, Dobri Nemirov, Michael Arlan were born here, Lyuben Karavelov, Ivan Vazov, Stoyan Mihailovski, the poet Tsvetan Radoslavov, author of the text of the Bulgarian national anthem, the painter Joul Pasken (Pinkas), the pianist Otto Liebih, the opera singer Mimi Balkanska, Academician Mihail Arnaoudov lived here.
The role of the town grew up even more with the construction of the so-called Bridge of Friendship between the Bulgarian and the Rumanian banks in 1954. It was here that at the end of the 1980-ies the civil movement for protection of the town from the pollution of the Giurgiu Chemical Works (Rumania) originated and it marked the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria. Nowadays Rousse is a big economic, transport, cultural and tourist centre.

Landmarks: About 200 buildings in Rousse are considered part of architectural historical heritage of Bulgaria, 12 of which are especially valuable. In the first place this is the Dohodnoto Zdanie (The Profitable Building) with the winged Mercury on its roof (the Old Theatre), built in 1902 by the architects Raul Brank, Georg Lang and Frank Scholts, which together with the Monument to Freedom (1908), a remarkable work of the architect and sculptor from Florence Arnoldo Zocci, are the symbols of Rousse. The following are also among the most outstanding cultural and historical monuments: The High School of Music; the Catholic Church (Episkop Bossilkov Street, tel.: 082 228188) with coloured stained-glass; the buildings of the Savings Bank, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Lyuben Karavelov Library), the boys high school Knyaz Boris (now a secondary vocational school Hristo Botev); The house of the sailor; the Regional Administration (granted for a museum); The Club of the Culture Functionaries; The Duty-Free Zone Administration; the Simeonovs Brothers House. The native home of Elias Kaneti is located at 13, Gurko Street.
Rousse is a town of the museums: The Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes (tel.: 082 28913); The Town Museum of History; the Baba Tonka Museum (phone: 082 32364); the Zakhari Stoyanov House-Museum; Toma Kurdzhiev House-Museum; The Museum of the Town Lifestyle arranged in Kaliopas House (tel.: 082 27742). The National Museum of Transport and Communications is housed in the building of the oldest railway station of Bulgaria. Carriages of Sultan Abdul Aziz, of Tsar Ferdinand and Tsar Boris III are preserved in it. The Town Art Gallery.

The ancient sites of interest of the town also include Leventabia Fortress (a restaurant complex now), the Kyuntukapiya Gate from Mitiriza, the Mahmoud Column, the Holy Trinity Church (8, Holy Trinity Square) dating back to the beginning of the 17th century, the Fleet Tower, built in 1884 by architect Franz Gruenanger for meteorological observations. There are monuments to those killed in the Serbian-Bulgarian War of 1885, to Russophilles, to Baba Tonka, to Lyuben Karavelov, Stefan Karadzha, Raycho Nikolov, etc.

There is an Opera House in Rousse (Sveta Troitsa Square, tel.: 082 234303, 225358), a Philharmonic Orchestra (12, Rayko Daskalov Street, tel.: 082 225680), Theatre of Drama and a Puppet Theatre. The International Festival March Days of Music is annually held in the town.
There is a higher educational institution, too the University of Rousse.

Accommodation: The Riga Hotel Square (Svoboda Square). The Danube Hotel (Svoboda Square). The Splendid Hotel. The Yordan Petrov Hotel (Prista Western Park, on the bank of the Danube River opposite the island of Lyulyaka (Lilac), working hours: 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., there is a restaurant). The Dom na Armiyata (House of the Army) Hotel (2, Odrin Street). The Rai (Paradise) Motel. The Prista Chalet (in the western park of the same name, offering 132 beds in 3 suites and in 2-, 4-, 5- and 7-bed rooms, there is a town bus line to it). Lyulyaka Camping (in the PristaWestern Park, on the bank of the Danube River opposite the island of the same name, it has 24 beds in double rooms two rooms in a bungalow.

Tourist information: at the hotels and at the tourist chalets. At Prista Tourist Association (1, Knyazheska Street, tel.: 082 224705, 225454) and at Akademik Tourist Association (8, Studentska Street, tel.: 082 450887).

Transport: Bus, railway and river transport services the inter-town and international connections of the town. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Varna, Pleven, Veliko Turnovo, Shoumen, Razgrad, Turgovishte and a lot of other towns and villages of the country. There are two bus stations functioning in the town Iztok (East) Bus Station (10, Ivan Vedar Street, tel.: 082 443836, 228151, 444810) and Yug (South) Bus Station (156, Alexander Stamboliiski Square, tel.: 082 222974, 228151, 228100). Rousse is the initial (or the final) station of two railway lines Rousse - Gorna Oryahovitsa Stara Zagora Podkova and Rousse - Kaspichan - Varna. It is connected through them to the national railway network. There are two railway stations in the town - one in the eastern part and the Central Railway Station (in the western part, tel.: 082 222213, 224320). There is a town railway ticket bureau (082 222845) and an office for sleeping car reservations (082 224202).

The river station of Rousse is a big one. Since 1992 the river passenger transport along the Bulgarian Danubian riverside have been discontinued but their continuance is solely a matter of time. There are cruises only along the international route Rousse - Belgrade - Novi Sad - Budapest - Bratislava - Vienna - Linz - Pasau with Bulgarian and mainly foreign tourists. Tourists tour cruises on little ships are organised during the summer. Since 1993 the ferryboat line Rousse - Giurgiu has been in operation, too. There is town bus and trolley bus transport in Rousse.

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