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RUSE

Ruse is the largest Bulgarian port on the Danube River. It is built on terraces above the Danube. Beside the Bridge of Friendship, which makes international connection with Bulgaria easier, many rail lines and highways have been built which connect it with all large cities in the country.

It is built on the site of the ancient town of Sexaginta Prista (The Sixty Boats), probely founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasianus (69-79) as a station for the Roman Danube fleet. It was destroyed during the invasions of the Avars and Slavs at the end of the 6th century. During the Middle Ages, a new town grew up near the ruins of the ancient settlement, which was called Rosi -later known as Rusi. In 1595, the Wallachian ruler Mihay Viteazul (Michael the Brave) made an unsuccessful attempt to liberate Bulgaria from the Ottoman dominion with a Wallach-Bulgarian army, and the town was destroyed again. After its reconstruction during the 17th century, it received the name of Ruschuk (Little Rusi) and gradually became an important port and strong border fortress. It was a large trade and administrative centre within the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Schools and a cultural club were opened during the National Revival era and the construction of the first rail line in Bulgaria, Ruschuk-Varna, was completed. The first, modern farm - called Numine (Exemplary Farm) - was founded; a River Authority was founded and steamships and barges were purchased. A printing press started up, with machines from Vienna, and, in 1843, Alexander Ruset published (in Strasbourg) the first geographical map of Bulgaria in the Bulgarian language for the needs of secular education in Ruschuk. European influence crept into the town with the active shipping on the Danube (mainly Austro-Hungarian steamships), which had an effect on its entire development. The architecture of the newly constructed buildings reflected Vienna, and for that reason the town was also known as The Little Vienna. Ruschuk played an important role in the struggle for national liberation and the independence of the Bulgarian church; even more so as Bulgaria's entranceway to a modern Europe, where the contemporary, freedom-loving ideas - which were percolating in the Old Continent - reached first. The population joyously met the Russian soldiers on February 20, 1878. During the next year the Bulgarian flag was raised on ships donated by Russia, which gave the start to organized Bulgarian shipping. The first nautical school, the first Bulgarian bank, the first Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, the first publicly traded insurance company - Bulgaria - were founded. Toward the end of the 19th century, many well-known architects, artists, writers (among whom the Nobel Laureate Elias Canetti and the world-famous artist Jules Paskin) lived and worked here, confirming the glory of the most European of Bulgarian cities.

LANDMARKS
• The architectural monuments of Ruse, which are approximately 200 in number. Twelve of them are especially valuable and are part of the national architectural and historical heritage.
• The Pantheon to the Revivalists with an eternal flame, where the bones of distinguished Bulgarians, whose lives are connected with the town, are gathered.
• The House-Museum of the notable Bulgarian Revivalist, Zahari Stoyanov - fiery patriot, one of the leaders of the April Uprising, journalist, writer, author of the Chronicles of the Bulgarian Uprisings (one of the most valuable testimonies to the national liberation struggle of the Bulgarians). An exhibtion is arranged in the house, Grandma Tonka and the Obretenovi Family, which is dedicated to the great patriot and her family.
• The Toma Kardzhiev Museum Hall.
• The Museum of Town Life in Kaliopa House (19th century).
• The Art Gallery.
• The National Museum of Transport and Communications, set up in the oldest railroad station in Bulgaria. Carriages of Sultan Abdul Azis, Tsar Ferdinand and Tsar Boris III are preserved here.
• The Monument to Freedom.
• The memorials to those who died in the Serbo-Bulgarian war of 1885, to Russophiles, to all of the numerous strugglers for church and national independence.
• The Leven Tabia fortress.
• The Kyuntu Kapia gate of Mitiriza.
• Mahmud's Pillar.
• The Lipnik Forest Park in the vicinity of Ruse with modern holiday centres, restaurants, lakes and nooks.
• The St. Demetrius Basarbovski's Cave Monastery (13-14th century) in Basarbovo 11 km south of Ruse.
• The cave churches near the village of Ivanovo, 20 km south of Ruse. These monastic cells and churches carved into the cliffs above
the Rusenski Lom river during the 12th -14th century are among the most significant and unique monuments of Bulgarian medieval art. Only five cave sanctuaries, in which the wall paintings are preserved to various extents, have survived until our time. Among the best preserved and most valuable are the frescoes in the so-called "shrine church". It is hewn 32 m (100 ft) above the river in a cave over the right bank. The compositions, which were drawn between the 12th and 14th century, are dedicated to scenes from the life of Christ. Despite being damaged in large part, these wall paintings are impressive with their creative imaging, perfect methodology, movement of the figures and expressive affectation. The cave complex near Ivanovo is among the most important objects under the protection of UNESCO.
• The Cherven Fortress. It is situated 30 km south of Ruse. The medieval town was situated on a high, rocky plateau and was surrounded on three sides by the Cherni Lom River. It is among the most important strategic and spiritual centres of the Second Bulgarian State. This spot was settled since ancient times. The Thracian tribe Getae built an unconquerable fortress here, which was destroyed during the early Middle Ages. It was reconstructed during the time of the First Bulgarian State. Cherven reached its zenith during the 13th -14th century. At this time the fortress had already taken up the entire area of the rocky ridge and was divided into two parts. The citadel was built at the highest and least accessible spot, and the town was situated in the other section. The most monumental structure of the Cherven Fortress was the palace. Constructed of hewn rocks, with thick walls, it covers an area of 180 m2 (nearly 2000 ft2). The six uncovered churches (two of which with Bishops) are in the style of the Tarnovo School. The entire fortress was fortified with stone walls up to 12m (40 ft) high and 3 m (10 ft) wide with towers and bastions. After the invasion of the Ottoman Turks at the end of the 14th century the fortress lost its role; life in it had died and it began to fall into disrepair. The Cherven Fortress is the best-preserved medieval fortification until our time.

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