... All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk

Elias Canetti

Ruse is the largest port, administrative, economic and cultural centre along the Bulgarian part of the Danube River, one of the biggest rivers in Europe. It is the fifth biggest city in Bulgaria with a population of about 160 000.

In I c. CE, the Roman fortification Sexaginta Pristis (a port of sixty ships) was built at the present site of the city. The fortress was destroyed by the Avars at the end of the VI c. CE and it was rebuilt again toward the end of IX – X c. CE as a medieval Bulgarian settlement Rusi, which gradually strengthened its fortification.

During the period when the town was within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, it was renamed Rustchuk and became a strategically important port on the Danube. Navigation and the big European river contribute toward the opening of the town for all new ideas, stimulating the development of Bulgaria. This accounts for the numerous innovations in the most European of all Bulgarian cities even before the Liberation, which affected positively its overall development. 

For the first time in Ruse regular meteorological observations and measurements were conducted; the first railway track between Ruse and Varna was built in 1866. Ruse became the first city in Bulgaria with a city plan. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and the first Bulgarian Insurance company “Bulgaria” were also founded in Ruse. The first film show in Bulgaria also happened in Ruse in 1897.

In the second half of the 19th century Ruse became the centre of the newly formed Danube region (Tuna vilaet). After the liberation the town of Ruse was the largest in the newly liberated lands and with over 20 000 citizens, it became the biggest economic centre in the Principality of Bulgaria, with a fast growing economy. Since 1931 its name has been changed from Rustchuk to Ruse.

Today Ruse is proud of its unique architectural heritage, marked by the European cosmopolitan spirit of the citizens of Ruse, thanks to which even in the beginning of the 20th c., the achievements and masterpieces of modern European architecture become part of the glamour of RuseIt is probably not accidental that Ruse is known as “the most aristocratic city of Bulgaria” or “littler Vienna”, and the poets of today use the colourful metaphor “Baroque fairy-tale”.

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