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Centralnorth Bulgaria > Rousse > History

History of Rousse

The famous Rousse mound - a prehistoric settlement existed more than 5000 years ago is located within the boundaries of the modern town. At the beginning of the new era on a part of the territory of the modern town of Rousse an ancient settlement of Sexaginta Prista (The sixty ships) emerged, where prista means a particular type of a Greek river guard vessel. Probably it was founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian (69-79). Later on it was known under the names of Pristis and Pristapolis. It existed up to the 6th century, when the Avars brought it to ruins. In Medieval times a new settlement emerged near the ruins of the ancient settlement, and information about it was found for the first time in the Broush Guidebook of the 16th century under the name of Rossi. In the Sultan Register of 1431 and in a Peace Treaty concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the Magyar state dated 20th of August 1503 the settlement was mentioned under the name of Roussi. In Ahmed Neshri chronicles as well as in many other old maps the town was shown as a wholesome town together with the settlement of Giurgiu on the opposite side of the Danube River named Yorgogi, Yorgovo, Yuroukova, Roussi on both sides of the Danube River, Giurgiu on both sides of the Danube River.

In 1595 the Wallachian ruler Mihai Vityazoul (the Courageous) made an attempt to liberate Bulgaria with an Wallah-Bulgarian army and the town was brought to ruins. After its reconstruction at the beginning of the 17th century it was given the name of Rouschouk (little Roussi). The town turned into an important port and a strong border fortress. In 1811 the Russian General Koutouzov carried out the famous Rouschouk battle and became known as a talented military commander. In 1864 the town became the centre of the Danube District of the Ottoman Empire. In 1866 the building of the first railway road in Bulgarian lands - Rouschouk-Varna was completed. The first modern agricultural farm was founded under the name of Noumine (Exemplary farm). The River Management was founded as well and in a short period of time 7 steam ships and 15 barges were purchased. A printing house was opened with printing machines from Vienna where newspapers, books and textbooks were printed. The bookshop of Hristo G. Danov was opened at that time. To meet the needs of the secular education in Rouschouk in 1843 Alexander Rousset published in Strasbourg the first geographical map in Bulgarain.     

European influence penetrated into the town through the active river transport along the Danube River (predominantly Austro-Hungarian ships) and this had positive impact on the development of the town. Architecture developed, too and the construction of private and public buildings resembling the style of the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire  Vienna commenced. The European fashion in clothing also penetrated first in this Bulgarian town.

On the 1st January 1866 the first in Bulgaria meteorological observations began here with modern Austrian equipment.

Rouschouk was not left aside from the struggle for spiritual and national liberation either, moreover that in its capacity of being a gate to Europe it was here that the modern freedom-loving ideas of the Old Continent made their way into the country. Zora (Dawn) Chitalishte (reading room and community centre) and the home of the extraordinary Bulgarian woman patriot baba (grandmother) Tonka Obretenova became centres of the national struggle. A lot of revolutionaries were assisted to leave the Empire or to return to their Fatherland. It was here that Angel Kunchev - one of the most faithful and ardent followers of Vassil Levski died here during an exchange of fire with the Turkish police. Baba Tonka, her sons and daughters, revolutionaries who gave their lives for the freedom of Bulgaria - Stefan Karadzha, Angel Kunchev, Zahari Stoyanov, Lyuben Karavelov, Panayot Hitov, Hristo Makedonski, Dimitur Tsenovich and a lot of other great Bulgarians were buried in this town.

A Pantheon-Charnel House of the national Revival heroes with an everlasting fire was opened in Rousse in 1979. The bones of many of the 453 dignified Bulgarians, who were born in or who linked their lives with this town and whose names are inscribed in the Pantheon were collected in it. On 20th February 1878the Russian Army led by General Totleben entered Rouschouk and was enthusiastically welcomed by the population led by Archbishop Kliment Branitski (Vassil Droumev).

The town was the biggest in the liberated Bulgarian lands  over 20 000 inhabitants. On 31st July 1879 the Bulgarian flag of the ships donated by Russia was risen which marked the beginning of the organised Bulgarian river navigation. The first marine technical school, later on moved to Varna, was opened here in 1881. The same year was found the first Bulgarian bank  Girdap. In 1889 the first Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, and two years later the first joint-stock insurance company Bulgaria - were established in Rousse. As of the end of the 19th century a lot of celebrated architects did their creative work in the liberated of Rousse (Edward Winter, Udo Ribau, Georg Lang, Edwin Petritski, Negos Bedrossyan, Todor Tonev, Nikola Lazarov and others), painter-decorators (Karlo Francescani, Giovanni Pitor and others), landscapers (Ferdinand Halober, Rihard Noyvirt and others). It is not due to randomness that Rousse is being considered the most European Bulgarian town even nowadays. The writers Elias Kaneti, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for 1981, Dobri Nemirov, Michael Arlan were born here, Lyuben Karavelov, Ivan Vazov, Stoyan Mihailovski, the poet Tsvetan Radoslavov, author of the text of the Bulgarian national anthem, the painter Joul Pasken (Pinkas), the pianist Otto Liebih, the opera singer Mimi Balkanska, Academician Mihail Arnaoudov lived here.

The role of the town grew up even more with the construction of the so-called Bridge of Friendship between the Bulgarian and the Rumanian banks in 1954. It was here that at the end of the 1980-ies the civil movement for protection of the town from the pollution of the Giurgiu Chemical Works (Rumania) originated and it marked the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria. Nowadays Rousse is a big economic, transport, cultural and tourist centre.   

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