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Rousse is the largest Bulgarian city (184,000 residents) on the Danube river.

Rousse is situated in the north-eastern part of Bulgaria, at 300 km from the capital Sofia.

Rousse coat-of-arms

Rousse, the Danube river

Town history

The town was founded at the time of the Roman emperor Vespasian over the period of 69 - 79 AD as a fortress called Sexaginta Prista, meaning Harbour of the Sixty Ships. The Roman fortress existed up to the 6th century when the Avars brought it to ruins.

In the Middle Ages the region of Rousse was among the most developed areas of the Bulgarian state.

At the time of the Ottoman Yoke, Rousse (Rouschouk) was an important fortress and the main gate to the north of the Turkish empire.

In the 19th century, Rousse was the first town in Bulgaria to acquire a pronounced European look.

Little Paris was the nickname the town gained for its economic and cultural prosperity at the turn of the century.

Rousse, the Statue of Liberty

The first newspaper printed in Bulgaria came out in Rousse in 1865.

First of its kind in the Balkan Peninsula, the building of the railway from Rousse to Varna in 1866 largely contributed to the growing significance of the town.

The first public pharmacy and the first bookshop in Bulgaria were opened in Rousse.

The first Bulgarian teachers' association was set up here in 1871.

After the Liberation in 1878, still one of the largest towns in Bulgaria, Rousse became the cradle of the Bulgarian shipbuilding when the first iron ship was built in 1881.

The first Bulgarian private bank (Girdap), with authorized capital of 5 million golden francs and the first Bulgarian insurance company (Bulgaria) were established in Rousse in 1881.

The first Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Bulgaria was established in Rousse in 1895.

In 1897 just two years after the show of the Lumiere brothers in Paris, the residents of Rousse were the first to see the motion pictures.

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Rousse is the most active and authoritative cultural centre on the lower Danube and the host-town of several significant annual cultural events:

Rousse, the Concert Bureau

- the March Music Days international festival of symphony, cantata and oratorio music,
- the International Jazz Festival,
- the Golden Rebec folk festival, and
- the Danube - European river, Danube - Balkan river international theatre festival.

Rousse, the Opera House

Established in 1888, the District Library in Rousse actively participates in the town’s cultural life. With British, French and German information centres, today the library is in possession of over 700,000 books and documents in 18 languages.

Established in 1904, the Museum of History in Rousse holds five departments: Archaeology, Nature, Ethnography, Bulgarian History of the 14th - 19th centuries, and New History.

Rousse, the Museum of History

Rousse has three permanent exhibitions:
- in the Museum of 19th-20th centuries town’s lifestyle & culture (Kaliopa's house, 1864);
- in the 'Zahary Stoyanov' House-Museum, and
- in the National Revival Heroes Pantheon (1977).

The Art Gallery in Rousse was opened in 1933. The gallery collection exhibits precious national and foreign artworks.

Other cultural institutions of regional and national importance – Rousse Opera House, Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra, Dramatic Theatre and Puppet Theatre.

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The remarkable and unique archeological reserve Ivanovo Rock Monasteries is some 23 km south-west of Rousse. Located at a height of 6 to 8 metres, the cells have been inhabited by monks until the 17th century. Chronicles and preserved church murals show that during the 13th - 14th centuries the community of hermits created a flourishing literary center.

The rock monasteries have been evaluated as an important stage in the development of the European culture, and have been recorded on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List. The Ivanovo churches contain some of the best frescoes of the Bulgarian religious art.

At 7 km south-west of Ivanovo is the Fortress of Cherven, dated from the Middle Ages. It was one of the most important military, economical, cultural and religious centres of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Now the ruins are restored and can be visited.

The Russenski Lom river is a flow into the Danube south-west of Rousse. The river has hewn out a picturesque canyon with meanders and vertical rocks in the Danube plain. To preserve this natural wealth, the area was declared National park. The birds are the biggest treasure of the Russenski Lom Canyon. This natural heritage landmark is included in the List of Europe's most important ornitological sites.

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Rousse, The Profit-yielding  building (1902)

Rousse, Sexsaginta Prista Rousse, The Profit-yielding  building (1902) Rousse, the National Revival Heroes Pantheon (1977)
Rousse, Museum of 19th century lifestyle (Kaliopa's House, 1864) Cherven fortress, the Tower Ivanovo rock monasteries (13th - 14th centuries)
Rousse, Zahari Stoyanov house-museum Rousse, The District library (1888) Rousse, view
Rousse, St Paul of the Cross roman catholic cathedral (1890) Rousse, St Paul of the Cross roman catholic cathedral (1890) Rousse, The Art gallery (1933)

Hover your mouse over the landmarks' thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.

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