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Rousse, Cosmopolitan City with a European Outlook
23.04.2007   Penka Manova
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Rousse

A testimony to this is the peaceful coexistence of Orthodox and Catholic temples, a Baptist, Methodist, Armenian and Adventist Church, synagogues and mosques.

Its beautiful location along the river Danube, Europe’s biggest transportation artery, has facilitated the inflow of architectural and cultural influences from Western Europe. Says Maria Marinova from the Local Tourism Information Centre:
“Rousse owes a lot to its favourable geographical position. It used to be a port since early history, to which the Rousse mound settlement attests. The Romans then founded a fortified military camp in the early 1st century A.D. The first ships used to anchor at the mouth of the River Roussenski Lom. They were known as “pristis”, and lent their name to the future Roman name of the city itself, Sexaguinta Prista, meaning “Port of 60 Ships”. Rousse bore different names in different historical periods, Pristapolis, Rouschouk, Rousse. During the 5 centuries of Ottoman domination, Rousse used to be the meeting point for many a leader of the Bulgarian National Revival Movement.”

After Bulgaria’s Liberation in 1878, the Berlin Treaty split Bulgaria in two parts, the Principality of Bulgaria, and Eastern Rumelia. Despite the fact that the choice of a capital to the newly established state befell on Sofia, Rousse used to be by far the most populated Bulgarian city. The Influence of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire is most strongly felt in the architectural outlook of the city.

Rousse is rich in cultural initiatives. For instance the March Music Days festival is going on at the moment. In the next months we are going to host the “Golden Rebeck” folklore festival, Rousse Jazz Fest, etc. The Roussenski Lom nature park is lying in the city environs. The valley of the canyon of the Roussenski Lom river has been declared a protected area spanning some 3 400 ha. The Eagle Rock cave and the only acting rock-hewn monastery in Bulgaria, the Besarbovo monastery, are to be found here. The Mediaeval Cherven fortress, and the world famous UNESCO protected rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo, and the ancient Thracian tomb at Sveshtari lie within a 100 km distance. Sreburna biological reserve is also not far from Rousse.”

20 churches, chapels and monk cells had been excavated along the river valley of Rousenski Lom by the village of Ivanovo, near Rousse. In the period of 13th -17th centuries they were inhabited by monks. Most of the monks were grammarians and bookmen. In the Covered-up church one can see the church-donor's portrait - most likely the czar Ivan Asen II. They say that Theodora (the first wife of czar Ivan-Alexander), who adopted her name in religion Theophana is depicted at the so-called Ruined church. The church-donor's portrait of Ivan-Alexander with the model of the church in his hands can be found in the main church "Holy Virgin" of the complex. The church is included in the UNESCO’s List of World Cultural and Wildlife Heritage. The Roussenski Lom nature park abounds in 174 bird species, 167 of them protected by the law, and also rain deer, roe deer, boars, vixen, 35 bat species, and some very rare plant species.

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