Ruse – Rousse is town in northeast Bulgaria with population of about 180000, on the right bank of the Danube River, near to the mouth of the Rusenski Lom River, opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu, with which it is connected by the Friendship Bridge. Town of Ruse is situated 320 km north-east of Sofia, 203 km north-west of Varna and 106 km north-east of Veliko Turnovo and surely represents the Bulgarian pearl on the Danube River. The town of Ruse features a surprising multi-ethnic character and is a cleverly constructed mix of Bulgarian and Romanian cultures. It is a beautiful town with wide avenues, large squares and wonderful buildings following a style of “national Renaissance” architecture. The city of Ruse extends from the land-connected Matey island and the mouth of the Rusenski Lom River on the west to Srabcheto hill on the east. Ruse has the most significant river port in Bulgaria on the Danube River, and this suitable location and good connections with another parts of Europe strongly contributed to development of the city through the history.

Thracians of the Getae tribe settled in Ruse area in the 6th century BC and created important trading, spiritual and administrative Thracian (Getic) center. It was not long before Thracians-Getae tribe felt the Roman expansion and conquest, for the empire built up a military presence in the basin of the Lower Danube year after year. The Roman province of Moesia was established in 15 AD and was reorganised in 86 AD into two provinces: Moesia superior and Moesia inferior. The province of Lower Moesia covered the largest part of nowadays Northern Bulgaria and Northern Dobrudja (in Romania). Its natural northern border was the Danube River on whose right bank Roman posts were located. The fort of Sexaginta Prista was part of this chain of military camps, located in the proximity of the mouth of the Rusenski Lom River, in the central part of the contemporary town of Ruse-Rousse.

The Roman province of Moesia was established in  15 AD and was reorganised in 86 AD into two provinces: Moesia superior and Moesia inferior. The province of Lower Moesia covered the largest part of nowadays Northern Bulgaria and Northern Dobrudja (in Romania). Its natural northern border was the Danube River on whose right bank Roman posts were located. The fort of Sexaginta Prista was part of this chain of military camps. It was located in the proximity of the mouth of the Rusenski Lom River, in the central part of the contemporary town of Rousse……  In the middle of the 1st century A.D., a Roman navalbase, called Sexaginta Prista, was located at the mouth of theRusenski Lom River. Later on, the Early Roman fort,constructed during the reign of Emperor Domitian, kept this name. In the 2nd century A.D., a temple dedicated to Apollo and the Tracian Rider was erected over the pitfield. The site remained a cult centre up to the beginning of the 4th century A.D., when the Late Roman fort of Sexaginta Prista was constructed. The principia of the fort were constructed over the remains of the temple”.  A Roman sanctuary in Sexaginta Prista – Varbin Varbanov

The Thracian settlement became a Roman naval center on the lower Danube in 70 A, under Emperor Vespasian. While Nero was the emperor there were here 5 legions, while a century later Marcus Aurelius made them 12. The ancient station must have been established under the Roman Emperor Vespasianus (69-79) who built a fortress called Sexaginta Prista on the large Danube river (the harbour of the sixty ships), from where it led to Novae /Svishtov/, Marcianopolis /Devnia/, Odessos /Varna/…. This “city of 60 ships” became a major river port with anchoring berths and wharfs for the famous Roman Imperial Danube Fleet, which moved over from Noviodunum ad Istrum (today: Isaccea, Romania) and controlled and guarded the entire economic and military traffic between the Black Sea, the Danube Delta and the Iron Gates of the Danube. The fortress of Sexaginta Prista lasted for almost six centuries and then perished under the storms of the Avar invasions. Excavations have produced evidence that during Trajanus’ campaign against the Dacians, Sexaginta Prista was the main base of his warships. Sexaginta Prista was put on the Roman map of military routes Tabula Pointingeriana that Marcus Agrippa drew in the 1st century. In the 6th century Byzantine Emperor Justinian solidly fortified it and the place became a key component of the Byzantine defense system which, however, surrendered to the barbarian waves. For centuries after the woeful shadow of destruction haunted the place and there was not a city, restored between the 9th and the 11th century. The Bulgarian feudal state had an economy in kind and insignificant trade, so the settlement on the big river was almost derelict. The Turks who liked the city very much used a diminutive form, Roustchouk.

The fort was in Cherven and the fortification was similar to that in Veliko Turnovo. It was the center of the fortified areas in the basin of the Rusenski Lom River where Skorpil counted 48 forts altogether. At Cherven, visitors enjoy discovering extensive remains of a fortified medieval settlement high up on the limestone plateau commanding great views across the Rusenski Lom nature park. Evidently the city that was re-established on the site derived its present name from Cherven four “rous” is a synonym of “cherven” (red) which is an adjective in all Slavic languages and cognate to the Latin “rusos” and the French “rouge”. 7 km south west of Ivanovo is the impressive Cherven Fortress, dated from the Middle Ages in its current appearance. Cherven was one of the most important military, economical, cultural and religious centers of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The impressive ruins of the Cherven Fortress are well restored and can be visited. After the conversion of Bulgaria to Christianity Cherven became the Bishopric see and was in its heyday in the 14th century; a watch tower, remains of a citadel, streets, 11 churches, cisterns and a tunnel to a karst spring have survived. Cherven was a famous center of arms production and of brisk trade where many foreigners arrived, mainly from Dubrovnik. In the 13th century king Ivan Asen granted many privileges to them and addressed them as beloved and faithful guests of the kingdom. It was one of the few traditions that the Turkish invaders adopted: many Turkish documents mention the Dubrovnik colony in the Rousse area; those people paved the way to the Catholic presence and had their own houses of prayer. Rousse region was during the Middle Ages among the most developed areas of the Bulgarian state. At the time of the Otoman Yoke Rousse was an important fortress and the main gate to the north of the Turkish empire, when it was called Rouschouk. For the first time in its more recent history Rousse is mentioned in the 1502 peace treaty between the Turks and Hungarians. From the second half of the 16th century onward Ruse started developing as an economic, military and strategic center of primary importance. Under Mithad Pasha administration, one of the most illustrious personalities in the Turkish national history, Ruse was in its heyday. Mithad Pasha became the governor of the Tuna Vilayet – Danubian Vilayet – the Danube province and the largest province of the Ottoman Empire, comprising all North and West Bulgaria and part of the nowadays East Serbia, with Toulcha, Varna, Ruse, Tarnovo, Vidin, Nish and Sofia. The period of the reform-minded man saw the construction of 3000 km of roads and 1140 bridges of which was the famous bridge of Kolyo Ficheto in Byala, a real miracle of construction, 300 meters long and 10 metres wide, on the major road of the province, which connected Rousse with Veliko Tarnovo and Pleven with Varna.

In the 19th century, Ruse was the first town in Bulgaria to acquire a pronounced European look which came an illustration of its economic prosperity at the turn of the century. The first newspaper printed in Bulgaria came out in Ruse in 1865. After the Liberation in 1878, Ruse continued being one of the largest towns in Bulgaria. It became the cradle of the Bulgarian shipbuilding when the first iron ship was built in 1881. The first private bank Girdap with authorized capital of 5 million golden francs and the insurance company “Bulgaria” were established in 1881. The first Chamber of commerce and industry in Bulgaria was established in Ruse in 1895. In 1897 just two years after the show of the Lumiere brothers in Paris, the residents of Ruse were the first to see the motion pictures. The central streets of Ruse intersect to form small bright and cozy squares whose atmosphere is typical and unique. Svoboda (Freedom) is the main square in Ruse, dominated by the majestic Monument of Freedom made of granite and bronze. The sculptor of the statue of freedom and the relief of the 8-metre pyramid over the pedestal was the world-famous architect Arnoldo Zocchi. Another tourist attractions of Ruse are : The Regional Historical Museum, Museum of the City Style of Life, also called The Kaliopa House, the Museum house of Zahari Stoyanov, the National Museum of Transport, remains of the Sexaginta Prista fortification and other. The Ruse region features many colorful and pretty villages which are ideal for a quiet escape, while the city of Ruse is buzzing with a vibrant cafe culture with many saying it is like a “small Vienna”. Visitors to Ruse also enjoy very much the wine tasting at the Sexaginta Prista – Roman Heritage site.

Some 23 km south west of Ruse there is an unique archaeological reserve – the remarkable Ivanovo rock monasteries. Located at a height of 6 to 8 meters, the cells have been inhabited by monks until the 17th century. Chronicles and the preserved church murals show that the community of hermits also created a blossoming literary center during the 13th – 14th century. The Ivanovo rock monasteries have been evaluated as an important stage in the development of European culture and recorded on the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. The Ivanovo churches contain some of the best frescoes of Bulgarian religious art.

About 20 km south of Ruse there is the Rusenski Lom Nature Park which attracts numerous lovers of preserved natural and cultural heritage and features abundant, comfortable and interesting and high quality tourist infrastructure. The beautiful river terraces, the high vertical rocks, the caves, the rock formations, the great biological diversity, and the historical monuments make the Rusenski Lom Nature Park into a magnificent place of interest. Besides various possibilities of scientific research in the Rusenski Lom Nature Park, visitors are also provided with numerous options for active, ecotourism and cultural tours.