Travel Guide to Ruse, Bulgaria
The fifth-largest city in Bulgaria, Ruse (also spelled Rousse,) is located on the northern border. On the southern bank of the Danube and the Rusenski Lom rivers, Ruse is the country’s largest port.
Known as Little Vienna thanks to the stunning European architecture, Ruse is a blend of cultures. You can walk down the street and hear Austrian, English, Turkish, and Bulgarian languages filling the air. Be warned, however, that some taxi drivers like to cheat tourists, so accept some offers with caution.
- Province: Ruse
- Population: 177,538 (Year 2005)
- Altitude: 29 Metres
- Postcode: 7000
- Area Code: 082
- Geographic Coordinates: 43° 51′ 23 North, 25° 58′ 14 East
Established almost 2,000 years ago, Ruse’s development has always tied into the location on the Danube. The city’s economy is closely linked to the shipping industry. The Romans called the city Sexaginta Prista meaning the city of sixty ships. Sexaginta Prista was the name of the Roman fortress that helped defend the city against invaders. Unfortunately, Goth armies destroyed the fortress in the third century and the buildings had to be rebuilt or restored. History repeated itself in the sixth and seventh centuries when Avars and Slavs attacked causing damage to much of the city.
Eventually, the city was renamed Rousse, supposedly after the Maiden Roussa, who was supposed to keep soldiers safe. If that legend is true, the feast of Roussalii is celebrated in her honor; otherwise, the city’s feast of Roussalii is celebrated for the city itself.
Ruse is one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful cities. There are many historic buildings open for visiting. Many buildings were constructed using either the Baroque or the Rococo styles, and features are easily viewed both inside and outside the city’s historic buildings.
One building stands out as the most popular tourist attraction in the city. The Rousse TV Tower stands at an impressive 210 meters high. Built out of reinforced concrete, the Rousse TV Tower is the highest in all of the Balkan Peninsula. There is an observation deck open to the public at the 107-meter level. From this observation deck, Ruse, Romania, and the Danube are all easily viewed.
In Ruse, 200 buildings are on the historic heritage list. Of those 200, definitely visit St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, The Monument of Liberty, the Leventabia Fortress, Battenberg Palace, and the Old Theatre.
The Kalliope House was constructed in the 19th century. This home is a glorious display of architectural features and now houses the city’s â€œdaily life museum.
Last, but certainly not least, take a short drive from the city center. Within twenty kilometers, you will come across the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo. These churches, monasteries, and chapels were hand-carved into the rocky river banks. These churches are amazing and should not be missed.
The Best Western Bistra is located in a quiet section of the city. There are thirty-eight rooms available to travelers. The hotel has a nice pool, sauna, and steam bath area. There is also a great fitness center on the premises. A restaurant and bar are also located within the building.
At the Riga Hotel, there are 180 rooms and apartments with satellite television, private baths, and telephones. The hotel is located on the banks of the Danube and is a short walk from the city center. Rates include the breakfast buffet.
Located across from Sexaginta Prista, Anna Palace Hotel offers well-equipped rooms with color televisions, hairdryers, telephones, room service menus, and safe deposit boxes. There is a restaurant on the premises.
Ruse is home to one of Bulgaria’s best colleges that specialize in Information Technology and Engineering educations. The college brings in many students who both feed the economy and also take from it as they apply for part-time jobs. Printing of books and textbooks is an industry that has served the city well over the years.
The Bulgarian River Company is located in Ruse. As part of the Pan- European Transport Corridor, many ships and freighters carry a wide array of goods from one area to another. While ferries once had their heyday, in 1992 transportation of people ended due to the higher costs of transporting only a handful of people. There was not enough business to keep the ferry service running.
Typically, the fare you can expect to find in Ruse is standard Bulgarian cuisine, with possibly a Turkish flair thanks to the city’s cultural history. Fresh vegetables and meats are common items found on the menu.
One of the area’s better restaurants prides itself on serving fresh regional fare and houses many barrels of wine in its cellar. Visit Leventa Restaurant if you want to experience some of the areas delicious entrees.
Be careful to bring a dictionary if you do not speak Bulgarian. Many restaurants include photos in their menu that are not necessarily served in the restaurant. That proves to be tricky to English speaking tourists.
Ruse is home to the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestral concerts are held regularly and are a little different from the normal run of bars and dance clubs. If you prefer some culture in your nightly outings, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra is an excellent choice! You can also try the Rousse State Opera for something unique.
There are a number of clubs and bars in Ruse. They tend to change ownership quickly, so the selection can vary from month to month, year to year. The best selection is located in the city center. A quick walk around town will bring you to many of the hottest spots in the city.
As one of the prettiest cities in Bulgaria, Ruse is a must-see. The architecture is stunning. The residents are friendly. There is plenty to see and do. If you do not have time to see all of Bulgaria, Ruse and Sofia should be your key destinations.