Short history of Ruse
Humans have lived for millennias in Ruse and its surroundings. There are many traces of their presence – settlement mounds, towns, necropolises, monuments. It is not general knowledge that the city and the region have a unique cultural and historical heritage of national and world importance. There are also many places that are important to the local community for the formation of its cultural identity. Knowledge of the existence of these sites is paramount for their protection.
Rousse is an old Bulgarian port town on the Danube river. From time immemorial, people have settled down to the river, which gives them their livelihood – this is how a mound settlement was created in prehistoric times in the area. The found clay idols, fosterers of life, are now preserved in the Regional Museum of History in Ruse. The houses in the settlement mound were arranged in lines, creating streets. It is necessary to speak of a protocol on the territory of the Ruse settlement mound – five millennia BC.
At the beginning of the 1st century AD, the Romans established a military camp here, where the navy along the Lower Danube gathers during winter times. At the mouth of the river Rusenski Lom are anchored ships “pristis”, which gives the city its name — Sexaginta Prista, meaning Port of the sixty ships. According to others, the name “sixty ships” meant the number of ships with which a legion of soldiers could be carried. Recent archeological studies have shown that there was a Thracian settlement long before the arrival of the Romans on the high coast at the mouth of the river Rusenski Lom. It existed three centuries before the New Era and traded in the eastern Balkans – amphorae from Rhodes Island were found.
In the mid-15th century, the ruler of Wallachia Vlad III conquered Rousse and liberated it from the Ottomans. Here Vlad III for the first time demonstrated unprecedented cruelty to captive soldiers by grappling them – impaling them on stakes. Because of his actions in Ruse, the Vlad III got his moniker Tepes (the Impaler). His gloomy glory remains rather known to Europeans with the name Dracula.
From the sixteenth century onwards, the town on the right bank of the Danube River (present-day Ruse) is known by its Ottoman name Ruschuk. The harbor and the good conditions for wintering ships support the development of the city during the late Middle Ages, and the Ottoman Danube fleet is located in Ruse. However, the star of Ruse arose when, after the Crimean War of the mid-nineteenth century, the principalities of Wallachia and Moldova merged into a new country – Romania, with the capital Bucharest, located only 70 km away north of Ruse. By this time Austrian steamers had already made easy access to the culture of Central Europe, so Europe penetrated the Bulgarian lands precisely through Ruse – along the Danube and through Bucharest. For this reason, many first things for Bulgaria happened during the liberation – the first railroad and railway station are being built. A modern printing house opened, the first newspaper began publishing.
As one of the main cities in the Ottoman Empire, Ruse has been gathering leading figures of the Bulgarian Revival, who have been in contact here with the rebels in Wallachia. The mythical Baba Tonka embodies the motherland whose children died for the revolution. After the Liberation, Ruse was the largest city in the Principality of Bulgaria, its economy was developing successfully, which reflected on the European appearance of its architecture. The development of the industry is the reason for the rich cultural life. In 1897 in Ruse a cinema was screened for the first time in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Navy was formed in Rousse – commercial and military, which later became naval. After the foundation of the first private bank, the first private insurance company “Bulgaria” was formed.
Today, the citizens of Ruse are proud of their modern European city, which is also the burial site of many of the most prominent Bulgarian liberation heroes whose bones are kept in the Pantheon of National Revivalists; Today, the citizens draw a confident vision for development, describing the good example of the old citizens of Ruse, one of whom, Elias Canetti, is a Nobel Prize winner in literature.