Ruse, also called the “Little Vienna” or even the “Pearl of the Danube”, is a very nice and architectural city situated on the bank of the Danube in Bulgaria northeast, at 320 km from Sofia and only 78 km from Bucharest, Romania. Ruse was the largest city of Bulgaria in 1878 and a precursor one in the country. Spotlight on one of the Bulgaria’s most impressive and elegant cities.
The last week, I was in Ruse for the first time, to pass one day and one night. I never heard anything about this city when I lived outside of Bulgaria. So, until last week, I didn’t know anything about it. Ruse is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria. It was a real pleasure to discover it and to stroll in and the most beautiful places can be discovered inside, in the street, squares, parks.
A large part of the city center is pedestrian and very quiet, only the hubbub (“Brouaha” in french) of the busy and strollers which gives even more charm to the area. I can also say that Ruse is a romantic city with many parks, fountains, benches, or cafe terraces where people meet each other and probably remake the world together in a relaxed atmosphere. Yes, there are lot of discussions on the park benches.
Colors of Ruse are beautiful. Colors of monuments, houses, tree leaves and blue fountains are mixed together to make Ruse a endearing city. I can imagine the wonderful colors that Ruse can have during spring and summer and I need to come back at this time to discover its new appearance. Ruse inspires me, fascinates me. I would like to go back on the past, in 1878, within a few hours, and to “live” Ruse.
Its heritage is huge. Its architectural buildings succeed each other and the question is : “But Why did I never hear about this city before ?” even if Ruse is one of the 100 Tourist Site of Bulgaria. So, there are lot of things to know and to see about Ruse and I probably have to go again so there are many things to discover. In my article, I would like to share with you my first impression about it, very nice and positive as you could understand. Without repeating its history (Wikipedia), there are 10 interesting reasons to discover Ruse with lot of places to visit.
Firstly, do you know that Ruse is built on the site of the ancient town of Sexaginta Prista, founded as a station for the Roman Danube fleet (1), and was called, until the independence of Bulgaria in 1878, Roustchouk (2). The heart of the city, in a large part pedestrian, is designed in a star shape around the main square, Svoboda Square (3), but we would see it better from the sky (I have not a drone, sorry).
Ruse offers an impressive architecture, a great mix of classic styles, Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic and Rococo and was called “Little Vienna” in the 19th century and was considered as the most European city of Bulgaria (4).
So, if you have the chance to stay in the Hotel Plaza Charlino in Ruse, you will appreciate the nice, unique and historic setting of this hotel.
The most beautiful buildings are called “The Golden Dozen” : The Old Theater, or the “Profit-yielding Building”, is a Neobaroque building built between 1898 and 1902 by Viennese architects, with its winged Mercury on the roof. It was intended as a home for the Dramatic Theatre (which is still here) and several shops.
But also School of Music, Catholic Church which sheltered for a long time the only organ in Bulgaria, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hristo Botev High School for boys built in 1898, the House of the sailor or the House of architects are some others ones.
So, Ruse is definitely still a very nice architectural city with lot of beautiful and magistral monuments : pass in front of the red architectural Opera House of Ruse and why not to assist at one its representation if you plane to pass some days in Ruse.
Pass around the Monument to Freedom, Square Svoboda, built in 1909 by Italian Sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi with donations of the local community after the initiative of the Associations of Volunteers in the Liberation War. It’s one of symbols of the city.
And take the opportunity to make a stop on a quiet park bench and observe the human life around you.
Pass in front of the impressive Courthouse of Ruse, in the same area, and built in 1929.
Discover the Regional Museum of History, inside or simply from outside like me, a very beautiful and architectural yellow building constructed in 1882 for the Regional Government, as the first public administrative building in Bulgaria after the liberation.
In the same corner, Lyuben Karavelov Regional Library, just behind the magistral fountains, takes place in a beautiful building built in 1911 for the first Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bulgaria.
The newly Eco-museum with Aquarium also take place in an yellow beautiful building. The variety of animal species and protected areas along the Danube are presented here as well as the coexistence of man and nature.
For the other places to visit, later in the past, there is the undeniable Sveta Troitsa Church or Holy Trinity’s is the oldest church of Ruse, built in 1632 during Ottoman rule. The majority of the church is underground. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Ruse is also the largest Bulgarian port on the Danube River, built on terraces above the Danube (6). Ruse was one of the key cultural and economic centres of the country. Take the opportunity to stroll on the long path along the River and discover some impressive sand sculptures.
Ruse was the starting point of the first railway line in Bulgaria, built in 1867, connecting Ruse and Varna (7) and there was founded the first insurance company and the first publishing house in Bulgaria (8). Ruse is also the city where the Russians forced the Danube and launched the war of liberation of Bulgaria against the Ottoman Empire in 1877 (9). At this occasion, discover the impressive Pantheon of Bulgarian Revivalists, a national ossuary of 453 activists of the Bulgarian National Revival, and its surroundings with the Park of the Revivalists.
Then, the last but not the least, every March takes place in Ruse an international festival of classical music “The Musical days of March” (10). I discovered all this nice places with the company of a street dog, that we called “Louisette”, so friendly, who followed us during our visits. Unfortunately, we could not adopt it. So, Louisette, if you read my article, I have a thought for you.
More : If you project to pass one night in Ruse, Lombardi Hotel is a comfortable place in the center (60 leva/30€ per room, breakfast included, Cash or credit card).
More pictures by @Madamebulgaria