Ruse, Bulgaria: A Local’s Guide to the Inside
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  • Post published:19/05/2021
  • Post last modified:19/05/2021

Ruse, (sometimes Rousse or Russe) the fifth largest city in Bulgaria, is located on the right bank of the river Danube and is the most significant Bulgarian river port. The city has a very long history, dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE. Today, Ruse is well known for its beautiful Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, as well as its natural landmarks and rich culture.

streets in Ruse Bulgaria
Ruse Streets, Bulgaria. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user Todor Bozhinov.

Often referred to as “The Little Vienna,” Ruse has a lot to offer. Here are the city’s main tourist attractions:

Baba Tonka Museum

The constant exhibition you’ll find at the Baba Tonka Museum will reveal before your eyes a picture of the Bulgarian Revival and Ruse’s role in the process. The museum was opened in 1958 in the house of Baba Tonka’s son, Nikola Obretenov. Except for him, Baba Tonka had 3 more sons that actively participated in the Bulgarian Renaissance, fighting for Bulgaria’s independent religion, education, and eventually, liberty. Here’s what she says about her bitter experience in this reference, “I’ve lost 4 sons: two of them are in the grave, the other two are half-dead. But, even if I had 4 more, I would still make them wear the Bulgarian flag with the golden lion.” In the Bulgarian history this brave woman resembles the image of the Bulgarian heroic mother, devoting her whole family’s lives to the fight for the Bulgarian freedom.

March musical days

The international music festival “March musical days” is among the oldest and most famous Bulgarian festivals. Traditionally the festival takes place every year in March, when Ruse becomes a stage for diverse artistic events including concerts, alternative projects, master classes and numerous exhibitions. More information about this annual event you can find here:

The Monument to Freedom

Ruse Bulgaria liberty monument
Liberty Monument, Ruse, Bulgaria. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user Cameltrader.

Built in 1909, this monument was designed by the famous architect Arnoldo Dzoki. It was the donations of the local community that brought this architectural project to life. Located at the heart of the city, the Monument to Freedom is among the true symbols of Ruse.

The Pantheon of Revivalists

Listed in the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria, the pantheon is the national ossuary of 453 activists of the Bulgarian revival. Located near the old cemetery, the pantheon is the last home of revolutionaries, volunteer fighters, as well as different activists for the Bulgarian culture and education. The pantheon also homes a chapel and a museum exhibition.

Religious temples

Ruse Bulgaria Catholic Eparchy
Catholic Eparchy in Ruse, Bulgaria. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user Cameltrader.

Ruse’s citizens are Orthodox Christians but the long and rich history of the city includes many different religions and cultures. This is exemplified by the different temples the city hides in its heart. There’s the Cathedral Church Sveta Troitsa (built in 1632), the St. Paul’s Catholic Church (built in 1890 and sheltering the only church organ in Bulgaria), the Armenian Church Sveta Bogoroditsa (founded in 1610), the Synanogue, the Evangelist Methodist Church, and the Mosque among others.

Urban Lifestyle Museum

The Urban Lifestyle Museum, also known as “Kalipa’s House”, became a reality in the 19th century (it was built in 1865). There you’ll find a rich collection of European porcelain, glass, silver, furniture, utensils, accessories, clothes and sample interiors of rich households from the late 19th century. There’s a local legend saying that there was a love affair between the Danube Province Governor and the beautiful young Kaliopa. Kaliopa’s house (according to the legend) was awarded to the young woman in a bow-shooting contest.

Roman castle Sexaginta Prista

Ruse Bulgaria Sexaginta Prisca
Walls of the Roman fortress Sexaginta Prisca, Ruse, Bulgaria. Taken by Rossen Radev via Wikimedia Commons.

The Roman castle Sexaginta Prista is actually an open-air exhibition that’s situated on the banks of the Danube among the ruins of an ancient Roman Castle. The ruins reveal a fortification wall, a defense tower, plaques, temples, stone signs, a sarcophagus and many more ancient relics. The name of the castle, “Sexaginta Prista,” means “the port of 60 ships” – a name that was given to this location (and by which the Ruse city has also been known) during the 1st century. During the summer season the open-air exhibition turns into an open stage for different performances and art installations.

The Medieval Town of Cherven

A key town from the 14th century, Cherven used to be a center of different crafts and thriving trade. Today the remains of the medieval town will please you with traces of the outer (unfortified) town, fortification walls, a watch tower, as well as ruins of a castle, a church, and some houses.

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