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Image:Rusegerb.gif Image:Ruse location in Bulgaria.png
Population 177 538 (2005-09-13)
Altitude 29 m
Postal code 7000
Area code 082
License plate
province code
43° 51' 23″ north,
25° 58' 14″ east
Time zone EET
(UTC+2; UTC+3 in summer)
Mayor Bozhidar Yotov

Rousse (also transliterated as Ruse or Russe Bulgarian: Русе ['ru.sɛ]; formerly also Rustchuk) is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria, with a population of 178,000. Rousse is situated in the northern part of the country, on the southern bank of the Danube, opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu, 320 km from the capital Sofia and 200 km from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is the most significant Bulgarian river port, serving an important part of the international trade of the country.

Rousse is known for its 19th and 20th century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, which attracts many tourists. The Rousse-Giurgiu Friendship Bridge, the only one in the shared Bulgarian-Romanian section of the Danube, crosses the river nearby.


[edit] History

An inscription from the Sexaginta Prista fortress

[edit] Antiquity and Early Middle Ages

The city emerged as a Thracian settlement from the 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE, where pottery, fishing, agriculture, and hunting were developed. Excavations reveal several layers, suggesting that the place was attacked by neighbouring tribes and suffered some natural disasters. Ancient sanctuaries were found nearby, where idols of a pregnant woman, a fertility goddess, were prevalent. 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" (from Latin: sexaginta — "sixty", and Greek: pristis — a special type of guard ship), based on the supposed 60 nearby berths. The fortress was located on the main road between Singidunum (modern Belgrade) and the Danube Delta and was destroyed in the 6th century by Avar and Slavic raids. The Hungarian historian Felix Philipp Kanitz was the first to identify Sexaginta Prista with Rousse, but the Škorpil brothers demostrated the link later through studying inscriptions, coins, graves, and objects of daily life. An inscription from the reign of Diocletian proves that the city was rebuilt as a praesidium (a big fortification) after it was destroyed by the Goths in 250 CE.

[edit] Second Bulgarian Empire and Ottoman rule

In the 13th-14th century, at the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire, a fortified settlement called Rusi (also Golyamo Yorgovo; Bulgarian: Голямо Йоргово), first mentioned in 1380, emerged near the ruins of the Roman town that later strengthened its position as an important trade centre with the lands on the opposite side of the Danube, until it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1388.

During Ottoman rule, the invaders destroyed the town, reacting to a 1595 unsuccessful liberation attempt by a joint Vlach-Bulgarian army, led by Michael the Brave. After its rebuilding in the following years, Rousse was dubbed Rusçuk (Turkish for "little Rousse") and had again expanded into a large fortress by the 18th century. It later grew into one of the most important Ottoman towns on the Danube and an administrative centre of Tuna Vilayet, which spanned from Varna and Tulcea to Sofia and Niš. Rousse developed into a centre of the Bulgarian National Revival and hosted the headquarters of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee.

[edit] Liberated Bulgaria

The Lyuben Karavelov Regional Library

After it was liberated from the Ottoman Empire on 20 February 1878, Rousse was one of the key cultural and economic centres of the country and the seat of Bulgarian shipping. Intensive building during the period changed the city's architectural appearance to a typical Central European one. That was also a time for a number of innovations, including the first in Bulgaria railroad to Varna, the first private bank ("Girdap"), insurance company, chamber of commerce, filmshow, metal ship, and weather station.

After knyaz Alexander Battenberg's 1886 abdication, and as a reaction to the regentship's course led by prime minister Stefan Stambolov, a group of Russophile (pro-Russian) military officers revolted in Rousse. The riot was violently crushed, and 13 of the leaders were quickly sentenced to death and executed near the city, which caused a lot of public discontent. Decades later, in 1934, local citizens raised funds and built a monument at the place where the Russophil officers were executed. The monument was blown up in 1940, but rebuilt in 1966 at approximately the same spot.

[edit] World War II and Communism

Between World War I and II, after Southern Dobruja was lost to Romania, the economic significance of the city decreased. So did the population numbers, and Rousse was no longer the second-largest town in Bulgarian lands (after former East Rumelian capital Plovdiv), and was quickly surpassed by Sofia and Varna. Many big companies left it, all foreign consulates were closed down, except for the Russian one, which has remained functional since.

The return of Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria in September 1940 fostered good conditions for restoration of the city's leading role. It was pronounced a province centre, and economic activity was revived. The construction of the Rousse-Giurgiu bridge in 1954 and the fast industrialization gave a new push to development. Rousse emerged again as a big economic, transport, cultural, and educational hub. The engineering, chemical, and light industries expanded; a big harbour was built; the city became a university centre. At the 1985 census, a population of more than 186,000 was reported.

[edit] Fall of Communism and democratic Bulgaria

In the early 1980s, Rousse entered a dark period of its history. The Verachim factory was built in Giurgiu, which was poluting the air for more than ten years, impacting the city's development. Population decreased, and 15,000 people moved out between 1985 and 1992. Fortunately, in 1989, the Romanian factory ceased the polution, under pressure by environmental organizations to both Bulgarian and Romanian communist leadership. Organizations, such as Ekoglasnost, provoked nation-wide demonstrations, and strongly influenced the change to democracy.

During the 1990s the global economic crisis in Bulgaria, reflected on Rousse. Most big companies suffered a decline, unemployment increased, and that lead to newer emigration waves. Since 2000, the city has been continually re-gaining its former leading stands.

Today, 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).[1] It is planned to redevelop and reopen the airport by 2008–2009 for internal, charter and cargo flights. The runway is long enough to take a Boeing 747 (Jumbo Jet).

[edit] Culture

Noted for its rich culture, Rousse hosts a Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rousse State Opera (founded in 1949). Rousse is particularly famous for its Baroque and Rococo architecture.

[edit] Museums

[edit] Religious buildings

The typical architecture of Rousse

In 1978, the All Saints Church was destroyed and the Pantheon of National Revival Heroes was built thereupon.

[edit] Other landmarks

[edit] Regular events

  • The March Music Days is an international music festival.
  • St George's Day (6 May) is Rousse's holiday. A local fare is organized for a week around this date.
  • The Danubian Carnival is a masquerade held around 24 June, Enyovden.
  • The Sexaginta Prista Summer Stage is an urban festival. Events are hosted at the Roman castle every Friday from May through October.
  • In the end of October, BG MediaMarket and the Bulgarian Europe Media Festival.

[edit] Notable citizens

Further information: Category:People from Rousse

[edit] Twin cities

[edit] References

[edit] External links

[edit] Gallery

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