STREETS AND SQUARES
Оne of the most popular descriptions of Ruse is that it has the most European-looking appearance in Bulgaria.
Ruse's unique architectural appearance bears the signs of the 19th and 20th century European styles. The Baroque, Secession and Empire buildings and decorations reveal the influence of Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest.
No other place in Bulgaria has such compact and abundant embellishments that actually create the special "aristocratic" spirit of Ruse.
267 buildings are on the list of architectural heritage.
Svoboda (Freedom) Square is the central city square, and it is the focal point of a dozen of streets leading to other squares and magnificent old and modern buildings. In it is the emblem of Ruse – the Profit-yielding Building. It was constructed in 1902 by the architects Raul-Paul Branck, Georg Lang, Franz Scholz and the construction expert Peter Atanasov
Originally, the building was designed for a trade centre. The revenues from the operation of that centre were used by the local School Trusteeship.
Ruse Drama Theatre used the stages in the building in the course of many years, while the inhabitant of one of the wings for a very long time was one of the first reading clubs in Bulgaria – Zora Reading Club. Today, it is the home of Elias Canetti European Culture Centre, in homage to the Ruse-born Nobel Prize winner.
Another component of the emblem of the city – the Monument to Freedom – is in the city garden in front of the Profit-yielding Building. It was inaugurated in 1908 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Bulgaria's Liberation from the Ottoman oppression. The monument was designed by the eminent architect and sculptor from Florence Arnoldo Zocci.
The woman figure represents free Bulgaria. One of the lions on the pedestal clenches the torn chain of the yoke in his teeth while the other one guards the helmet of freedom. Two original Krupp-made guns from the 1987–1988 Russian-Turkish War are on the backside.
The first fountain of Ruse is also in the central garden. It was made by the sculptor Vladimir Vladimirov in 1926. The imposing building of Ruse Court is in the square, and close to it across the street is the House with the Clock, where Girdap Bank – the first bank – used to be.
The central square ends with cascading modern fountains. Opposite them is the local administration building that accommodates the City Hall and the Regional Government.
Next to it is the Promenade and Sv. Troitsa Square.
The Opera House is at the far end of that square.
It neighbours with Sveta Troitsa (Holy Trinity) Church, constructed in 1632 on the place of an old chapel.
The church is dug into the ground the way the Ottoman authorities required in those times.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church (1890, designed by Valentino) is another architectural landmark of Ruse. It is close to the Danube River bank; the only church organ in Bulgaria is in it.
The Old City Square
If you start walking “up” Aleksandrovska Street, you will reach one of the most magnificent places in Ruse. That is the beautiful square formed by theRuse Library (1911) designed by the architect Nikola Lazarov, the building of the former District Administration that currently accommodates the Museum of History, the earliest high school in Ruse – the so-called High School for Boys (1898) made by the architects Petko Momchilov and Franz Scholz.
In the square park is the Memorial to the Bulgarian Soldiers Killed in the Serbian-Bulgarian War in 1885. It was erected in 1902.
The Canettis’ business house in Slavyanska Street is in the list of local architectural heritage. There is a project to have it transformed into a cultural centre. The birth house of the Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti in Gurko Street – the one he so vividly described in his book The Tongue Set Free – is also preserved. There is a commemorating sign on it.
MUSEUMS AND LANDMARKS
The Museum of History in Ruse has seven expositions; two of them are in the city environs: the rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo and the medieval town of Cherven.
The Sexsaginta Prista open-air exposition is on the Danube River bank, among the ruins of the Roman castle. Visitors can see the name of the castle written on a milestone from the reign of Emperor Trajan, a sarcophagus, pithoses, other stone signs, fifty meters long ruins of the northern fortification wall with a defence tower, the ruins of barracks and shops. There is a standing exposition about the religious cults in the Roman province of Moesia Inferior, with deity plaques and a temple to God Mitra.
Zahari Stoyanov House Museum has an exposition related to Baba Tonka, the Obretenovs and Zahari Stoyanov - the chronicler of the April Riot. The museum keeps G. Rakovski’s sabre, Stefan Karadzha’s sabre with a gun installed on it, and many items that belonged to Bulgarian resistance activists from the Ottoman period.
Kaliopa’s House is the late 19th century Urban Lifestyle Museum. It has collections of European porcelain, glass, silver, furniture, ladies’ clothes. Sample interior of wealthy houses in Ruse is shown on the upper floor. The house was constructed in 1865. The consular office of Prussia was in it. The local legends tell the story of the romantic love affair between the Danube Province Governor Midhat Pasha and the beautiful Kaliopa. The house was the prize Midhat Pasha gave to the winner in a bow-shooting contest, who was, of course, Kaliopa.
The Tomb of Revivalists (the Pantheon) is a national memorial where the bones of 453 heroes from the Revival period are buried, including the bones of Lyuben Karavelov, Stefan Karadzha, Zahari Stioyanov, Baba Tonka and Angel Kanchev. It was inaugurated in 1978. The architects were Nikola Nikolov and Daniel Kanev. An eternal fire burns under the gilded dome and there is a chapel inside. Visitors can see an exhibition of icons and church plate.
The National Museum of Transport is the only one of its kind in Bulgaria. It was opened in 1966, in the building where the first railway station in Bulgaria was. Old locomotives and wagons stay on the platform in front of the station. The wagons of Sultan Abdul Azis, of the Bulgarian kings Ferdinand and Boris III, of Marshall Tolbuhin, and a sundial are among the most attractive exhibits. The museum is in the Park of Youth, a highly popular place where local people at all ages come for a walk or to use the sport facilities in it.
The Memorial to the Soviet Soldiers (popular as the Memorial to Alyosha) is on the way in; behind it is the Concert Hall. The vase with flowers planted on it has been the park logo for over 50 years.
The University of Ruse is successor of the Higher Technical School established in 1945. It has over 7000 students in a wide variety of engineering, humanitarian and economic programs. The University has been active in the TEMPUS Program supported by the EU for several years.