Rousse is the largest Bulgarian city on the Danube, which, with the opening of the Rhein - Main - Danube canal which covers 3,500 km and connects thirteen European countries with the Near and Far East via the Black Sea, became the longest inland waterway on the planet. Rousse is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas. It's also known as "The little Vienna" because of Alexandrovska str. (Alexander's str.) along which there are hundreds of stylish houses. In the spring the lime scent is all-pervading, and its uniqueness won Ruse the name the city of lime-tree.
Rousse is a big Bulgarian city with a population of over 170 000 and is one of the basic cultural and economic centres of Northern Bulgaria. The country's accession to the European Union is expected to be of local benefit through new investments and opportunities for international business.
Approximately 15 km southeast of Rousse is the village of Shtraklevo, near which is the former military Rousse Airport (currently closed). It is planned to redevelop and reopen the airport by 2008-2009 for internal, charter and cargo flights
The city emerged as a Thracian settlement from the 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE. Excavations reveal several layers, suggesting that the place was attacked by neighboring tribes and suffered some natural disasters. The Thracian settlement later developed into a Roman military and naval centre during the reign of Vespasian (69-70) as part of the fortification system along the northern boundary of Moesia. Its name, Sexaginta Prista, is suggested to mean "a city of sixty ships".
During Ottoman rule, the invaders destroyed the town, reacting to a 1595 unsuccessful liberation attempt. After its rebuilding in the following years, Rousse was dubbed Rusçuk (Turkish for "little Rousse") and had again been expanded to a large fortress by the 18 century. Rouuse developed into the centre of the Bulgarian National Revival and hosted the headquarters of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee.
After it was liberated from the Ottoman Empire on 20 February 1878, Rousse was the seat of Bulgarian shipping. Intensive building during the period changed the city's architectural appearance to a typical Central European one.
Between World War I and II the economic significance of the city decreased but the construction of the Rousse-Giurgiu bridge in 1954 and the fast industrialization gave a new push to development. Rousse emerged again as big economic, transport, cultural, and educational hub. The engineering, chemical and light industries expanded; a big harbor was built and the city became an educational centre.
In the early 1980s Rousse entered a dark period in history as the Verachim factory was built in Giurglu, which was polluting the air for more than 10 years. Fortunately, in 1989, it ceased the pollution, under pressure of environmental organizations and with the help of nation-wide demonstrations.
Museums and protected sites
Noted for its rich culture, Rousse hosts a Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rousse State Opera. There are lots of museums such as The National Transport Museum, where one can see the personal carriage of King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and the carriage of the Turkish sultan.
Another place worth seeing is Battenberg Palace, built in 1892, which now hosts the Rousse Regional Historical Museum. The museum exhibits approximately 140,000 items.
The Pantheon of National Revival Heroes is another important sight. 39 famous Bulgarians are buried in it and 453 more, including participants in different detachments. An eternal fire burns in the middle under the gold-plated dome. The Pantheon is one of the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria.
One should also visit Kaliopa House-a museum depicting the old urban lifestyle. According to a legend, the house was bestowed upon the beautiful Kaliopa (born Maria Kalish), the wife of the Prussian consul Kalish, by the governor of the Danubian Vilayet, Midhat Pasha, who was in love with her. The first grand piano, imported into Bulgaria from Vienna, can be seen there.
Other landmarks include Dohodno zdanie ("Profitable Building")-an old theatre and one of the most beautiful buildings one can ever see, the Monument of Liberty, built by the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi and part of the city's coat of arms, and Rousse TV tower which is the tallest TV tower in Bulgaria and one of the tallest buildings on the Balkan Peninsula. The tower has an observation deck open for tourists at a height of 107 meters, which offers an excellent panoramic view of Rousse, the Danube River, the neighboring city of Giurglu, Romania, and as far as Carpathian Mountains.
Rousse abounds with churches-Church of the Holy Trinity, Church of St Petka, Church of the Holy Ascension, Russian Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker, Roman Catholic St Paul and the Cross Cathedral, Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo-a World Heritage Site, etc.
About 200 buildings in Rousse are on the list of the fund of the architectural historical heritage Bulgaria. Rousse is a model of the influence of the European architecture on Bulgarian cities. Its appearance is the fruit of the efforts of numerous architects, civil engineers, technicians and builders. They have given the city the unmistakable general appearance of an architectural ensemble. Their buildings are in Neoclassicism and Secession styles that were typical in Europe between mid 19th century and WWI.
Sources: Official internet site of Rousse, internet page Domino/ Bulgaria/ Rousse.