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EUROPE AN UNION European Regional Development Fund

Operational Programme “Regional Development” 2007 - 2013 Investing in your future! The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the state budget of the Republic of Bulgaria

Welcome to the Valley of Lom Rivers! The tourist region of Ruse-IvanovoBorovo is the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday, offering myriad of entertainment options. Those who love adventures and active entertainments, as well as the ones who prefer a peaceful recreation will find here something for themselves. The region enchants with unique natural landscapes, rich historical heritage and cultural diversity. Welcome! We’d like to invite you on a trip to the rivers of times!



Contents 3 General information 5 Ruse 7 Borovo 8 Ivanovo

9 Heritage from Antiquity 11 Strongholds of the empires 15 The faith keepers through the centuries 18 World cultural heritage in the region 20 Regional Museum of History Ruse and its expositions 24 National Museum of Transport 26 Little Vienna

28 Rusenski Lom Nature Park 30 Ecotrails and natural attractions 32 Sports and adventures 34 Hunting and fishing

35 Gastronomic tour along the Danube

37 Cultural calendar


General information The tourist region Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo is an intriguing blend of wilderness and rich cultural heritage, one that guarantees a well spent spare time and complete relaxation. Each municipality offers a variety of informative, emotional and entertaining leisure activities. The largest town in the region and an administrative center is Ruse with its population of nearly 150 000 people. Ruse is situated on the Danube River, which connects it with nine European countries, including Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania etc. European routes E70 and E85, as well as the PanEuropean transport corridors 7 and 9 that provide the link between the Baltic and the North Sea on one side and the Mediterranean and Black Sea on the other, pass through Ruse. The distance between Ruse and Sofia is 324 km, and the capital of Romania Bucharest is only 60 km away thanks to the bridge over the Danube between Ruse and the Romanian town of Giurgiu. The history of the rail transport in Bulgaria began in Ruse. Here in 1866 was built the first railway line connecting Ruschuk (former name of Ruse) and Varna. Nowadays the important railway line RuseGorna Oryahovitsa-Sofia passes through the town.

50 km to the southwest of Ruse is situated the town of Borovo, an administrative center of the eponymous municipality. According to official statistics the town‘s population is just over 2,300 people. Convenient transport links connect Borovo to the rest of the country. The first class road I-5 /Ruse-Veliko TarnovoPodkova/ that passes through the territory of the municipality provides fast and reliable


transportation. Fourth national railway line /Ruse-Gorna Oryahovitsa-Podkova/ passes through Borovo. 15 passenger, fast and international trains, servicing the destinations Ruse and Gorna Oryahovitsa, pass round the clock through the railway station in the town. The village of Ivanovo is situated 20 km to the southwest of Ruse and is the centre of Ivanovo Municipality. The population of the village is 855 people. Ivanovo is also a railway station on the railway line RuseGorna Oryahovitsa-Sofia. The climate in the region is temperate continental, characterized by hot and dry summers and strong northeasterly winds in winter. The average annual temperature is about 12o, average temperature in July 20-22o and the average January temperature – 0 to -3o.


Temperature inversions, frost and black ice are common in the area. Ruse has a well developed network of hospitals for outpatient and inpatient care. In other settlements in the region access to health services is limited. This should be considered when preparing to visit the tourist destination Offices of almost all banks operating in Bulgaria can be found in Ruse. In the other places, there are mostly only ATMs. The tourist information centers in the region are a reliable source of comprehensive and up to date information on tourist sites, accommodation, restaurants, transport links between settlements, tourist attractions and more. There are tourist information centers in Ruse and Ivanovo.

Ruse Ruse is situated on the banks of the Danube River, 324 km from Sofia, 200 km from Varna, 300 km from Plovdiv and only 60 km from Bucharest. The town of Ruse is an important cultural, economic and industrial center not only for the region but for the whole country.

In the I century a Roman military camp, named Sexaginta Prista, was founded at the place of today’s Ruse. The name of the fortress translates as – “Port of sixty ships”. Among the remains of the fortress are 50 m from the northwestern defensive wall, a tower, six buildings, a temple of Apollo and a storage area. They all can be seen in the northwestern part of the city. During the Ottoman rule Ruse was one of the major settlements in the Ottoman Empire. This position provided the town with the opportunity to experience economic and cultural growth through the years. Ruse has a pioneer status when it comes to many things such as the first railway line in Bulgaria, the first modern print house in Bulgaria, the first Bulgarian newspaper, the first cinema screening after the Bulgarian Liberation. Ruse was the first town in Bulgaria to have a building with an elevator. The

first private bank in Bulgaria was established here, as well as the first Bulgarian insurance company, etc. After 1878 the favorable location of Ruse and its connections to Danube and Central Europe led to an economic progress and the improvement of the architectural appearance of the town. Magnificent architectural masterpieces, a stylish mix of baroque, modern, neoclassicism



and art nouveau, earned Ruse the nickname „Little Vienna“. The Dohodno zdanie building, the House of Elias Canetti, the Battenberg Palace are only part of the architectural monuments that deserve attention. The regional Museum of History – Ruse is housed in the Battenberg Palace. More than 130 000 monuments of culture, among them a reproduction of the Thracian silver treasure of Borovo from the IV century BC are kept in it. The Museum of urban lifestyle, commonly known as the „Calliope House“ presents everyday and festive traditions of the citizens of Ruse from the late XIX and early XX centuries. The exhibition „Obretenovi Family“ in “Zahari Stoyanov” house-museum is dedicated to the life and work of the members of the famous Revival family. The national ossuary Pantheon of National Revival heroes preserves the remains of 453


heroes of the Bulgarian National Revival, including Lyuben Karavelov, Zahari Stoyanov, Nikola Obretenov and others. It is located in the old cemetery of Ruse, in the National Revival Heroes Park. The Armenian church “Surp Astvadzadzin”, the catholic cathedral “St. Paul of the Cross” and the numerous orthodox churches in Ruse, all situated in close proximity to one another, are a perfect example of the religious and ethnical tolerance, common for a cosmopolite city like Ruse. Here is situated the unique National Museum of Transport and Communications, housed in the building of the first railway station in Bulgaria. The city attracts tourists not only because of its rich historical heritage, but also because of its magnificent nature. Danube offers countless opportunities for water activities and the parks „Prista“ and „Lipnik“ located in close proximity to the city are a nice place to relax. Ruse hosts many international cultural events that will satisfy the interest of the most demanding art lovers. Its colorful history, the urban architecture inspired by European classics, the proximity to Danube and the exciting cultural life make the town of Ruse an attractive destination for visitors with diverse interests.

Borovo The town of Borovo is situated 48 km from Ruse and 266 km from Sofia. The town is conveniently located on the first class motorway I-5, which connects the region of Ruse with the Baltic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The railway line Ruse – Gorna Oryahovitsa – Podkova also passes through the town of Borovo. The first records about the settlement date back to 1657, when it was mentioned under the name Chiflik manastir. Today’s town of Borovo is a direct heir of the eponymous village, founded in 1948 after the merger of the villages of Gorazd and Gorna Manastiritsa. Although it was first mentioned only in XVII century, the history of Borovo spans over thousands of years, a proof of which is the Thracian silver treasure, discovered in 1974, and the tomb of an aristocrat from the Getae Thracian tribe, exhibited in the center of the town. The Thracian silver treasure of Borovo is dated back to the IV century BC and consists of five silver gilt items, whose reproductions can be seen at the Regional Museum of History in Ruse. The tomb, discovered during the archaeological excavation after the discovery of the Borovo treasure was demounted in 2007 and since then has been exhibited in the centre of the town, in an open space park area, especially arranged for its exhibition.

The town attracts tourists’ interest with various cultural events, too. Every year the festival for authentic folklore “From Danube to the Balkan” takes place in Borovo. Some of the most prominent artists in the field take part in the yearly held sculpture workshop in Borovo. Traditionally, every year on the last Sunday of August takes place the official gathering of people who were born in Borovo, still live in the town or are connected to it in some way. The Day of Borovo is celebrated every year on September 5.



Ivanovo The village of Ivanovo is situated 25 km south of Ruse, 296 km from Sofia and 202 km from Varna.

The town is about 3 km to the west from the largest rockhewn monastery in Bulgaria “St. Archangel Michael”. The village is believed to be established during the Second Bulgarian Empire (XII-XIV century) because of the monastery. The name of the village is likely to be connected with the kingsdonators Ivan Asen II and Ivan Alexander. In 1895 after the construction of the railway line Gorna Oryahovitsa – Ruse the settlement was moved from its original location near the river. In close proximity to Ivanovo is the river Rusenski Lom. It is the starting point of many walking routes through the eponymous nature park, known for its myriad cultural monuments, outstanding variety of plant and animal species and recreation opportunities. The area around the village of Ivanovo impresses with the great


number of cultural sites, some of them world-renowned. In the “Pismata” area are located the medieval rock-hewn churches, featuring invaluable murals, part of the archaeological reserve “Rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo”, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. By car or foot you can reach another interesting cultural monument in the region – the Medieval fortified town of Cherven, heir to a Byzantine fortress from the VI century, which reached its apogee in the XIV century. Also in the Valley of Rusenski Lom River is the only active rock-hewn monastery in Bulgaria “St. Dimitar Basarbovski”. It is located in the surroundings of the village of Basarbovo. In Ivanovo operates a tourist information center where anyone can get detailed information on tourism options in the village and the region.

Heritage from Antiquity From centuries the region of the three municipalities Ruse, Ivanovo and Borovo has been a crossroad of different cultures. There are many facts pointing to that conclusion, extending to the times when the Thracians lived on these lands.

In 1974 while ploughing a field near the then village, today town of Borovo, in the Sivri tepe area a Thracian silver treasure was found. The find includes five silver gilt items, dated to the second quarter – the middle of the IV century BC. The treasure consists of three rhyta, with bases formed as the fronts of a horse, a bull and a sphynx, a rhyta jug with a gold plate on the clothes and the hair of the engraved images, and a large silver bowl, gilt on the top edge and the base of the handles. The rhyta, that have been discovered are the most typical symbols of royal power for the Thracian kings.

The treasure of Borovo originates from the lands of the Thracian tribe Getae in North Bulgaria and according to an inscription in one of the rhyta, was a present to the Getae from the Odris king Kotis I (383 – 359 BC). The items themselves were made in the town of Beos, which was located on the sea of Marmara. Nowadays the original Thracian treasure of Borovo is preserved in the National Museum of History in Sofia. A replica of the treasure can be seen in the Regional Museum of History in Ruse. The discovery of the Borovo treasure arouses the


Heritage from Antiquity

interest of archaeologists to the region and soon after began an intensive research of the Thracian necropolis, located near Borovo. During the excavations of one of the mounds the archaeologists found a brick tomb built of well processed limestone blocks. Professionals date the tomb back to the IV-III century BC. The building was constructed for a Getae noble, who lived during the reign of the Thracian king Kotis I. The tomb consists of a rectangular


room – a chamber, pointing in direction east-west. It is covered with a semi-cylindrical vault. Its front facade looks to the east. The entrance has a trapezoidal shape, the door closed by sliding into grooves. The triangular pediment over the front facade makes the tomb unique. Such covering has never been seen in another burial facility in Bulgaria. In 1996 the tomb was fully excavated and socialized by professionals and opened its doors to visitors. Its original location, 5 km from the town, in the middle of a field, made its promoting as a tourist attraction hard, so in 2007 it was decided to re-exhibit the tomb in the center of the town of Borovo, where it can be seen today. Thracians also had settled in the area around the Medieval fortified town of Cherven long before the town was founded and its following heydays. Today some of the most interesting items found on the archaeological site are stored in the Regional Museum of History Ruse, where they can be seen.

Strongholds of the empires Given its proximity to the Danube, the town of Ruse played an important part in the defense of the empires, within which it existed.

The ancient history of Ruse can be traced in the remains of the northern border of the Roman Empire, the so-called Danube Limes (Latin for “border”) that spread from the upper Danube in present-day Austria to the lower course of the river between Bulgaria and Romania. The Danube Limes was a military fortification system on the right bank of the river that was used to stop the barbaric invasions from the north and the east. In these fortresses were housed Roman legions. Famous forts in Bulgaria were Sexaginta Prista, Durostorum (now Silistra), Ratsiaria (between Vidin and Lom) Nove (near Svishtov) Almus (near Lom) and others. In 488, the Limes along the upper valley of Danube was abandoned. Along the lower valley it kept on existing until the arrival of the protoBulgarians.

The Roman fortress Sexaginta Prista was one of the most famous strongholds along the northern border of the Roman Empire. The name of the fort means “Port of 60 ships”. During the Dacian wars of Emperor Domitian (85-89) on the territory of today’s Ruse were built 60 berths for vessels


called pristis – small guard ships with oars. The crew of the vessels numbered about 6 000 people. During its existence Sexaginta Prista was a military base and an Episcopal centre. At the end of the VI century the fortress decayed after the invasion of Avars and Slavs. Sexaginta Prista was mentioned for the first time in a record by the Greko-Roman geographer Klaudius Ptolemy. The remains of the fortress were discovered at the end of the XIX century by the Austrian archaeologist Felix Kanitz. The first thorough examinations of the fort were made in the beginning of the XX century by the archaeologists – brothers Karel and Hermann Skorpil. The remains of the fortress were discovered around the Military Club in Ruse. The archaeological excavations


have discovered 50 m of the northern wall of the fortress and the north-eastern tower, six buildings, a temple of Appolo, the Principle of the fortress – a storage and a sanctuary for the battle flags, ritual pits from an earlier Thracian sanctuary and other military and commercial buildings. The findings were preserved and in 2002 the open-space exhibit Sexaginta Prista opened for visitors. Today it is part of the Regional Museum of History in Ruse. A three-storey watch tower, a replica of a lighthouse from the Roman Limes was built as part of a project for restoration and socialization of the fortress. The everyday life of the roman soldier is shown in an exposition. One of the tourist

attractions in the fortress is a model of an antique potter’s wheel, a chance for everyone who wants to learn how to work with clay as the ancient Romans did. Sexaginta Prista is located on 2, Tsar Kaloyan Str. and welcomes visitors every day, except on Sundays and Mondays. The old city gate of Ruse Kuntu Kapu is the only remain of the fortified wall of one of the largest Bulgarian towns within the Ottoman Empire. As per the Berlin treaty of 1878, which marked the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, all strongholds in the Principality of Bulgaria had to be destroyed. The only thing that was left from Ruschuk’s stronghold was the gate Kuntu Kapu and its iron door. The name of the gate is literally translated as “the door with the pipe”. It was dubbed this way because a pipeline (kuntu), which was part of the water supply system of the town, passed near the gate. This pipeline supplied the only preserved XVIII century fountain in Ruse, which was located in the yard of the St.

George’s School (today “Angel Kanchev” school). The gate Kuntu Kapu can be seen on the way out of Ruse, near the bridge known by the locals as “The snail”. Levent Tabia is the only preserved fort from the old Ruschuk. It is located on the Leventa hill, also known as Sarabair. The fort played an important role in the defense of the Danube border of the Ottoman Empire. Its construction began in the 20s of the XIX century. The plan of the building was made by Prussian engineers and was planned to accommodate a garrison of 3000 people. After the Liberation war of 18771878 the fort was turned into storage for arms and ammunition of the Danube flotilla and during the World War II an anti-aircraft battery was placed here. Nowadays the forth is a luxury complex with a wine cellar and a restaurant. The Medieval fortified town of Cherven (the name stands for beautiful, handsome) is a direct successor of an early Byzantine fortress of the V-VI centuries that existed on the


Strongholds of the empires

ruins of a Thracian settlement. The town was one of the largest military, administrative, economic, religious and cultural centers of the Second Bulgarian Empire (XІІ-XІV century). In its heydays Cherven established itself as a major center of craftsmanship, with iron extraction, ironworking, goldsmithing, construction and arts being well developed. Its importance grew bigger after 1235, when it became a seat of the Medieval Cherven Episopacy. The archaeological researches have found an inner town, situated on a high rock


plateau, and an outer town at the foot of the plateau. The urban plan is characterized by a complex defense system built on stages, dense development and branched street network. Cherven was conquered by the Ottomans in 1388, which led to its gradual decline. The town was finally destroyed in 1595 by the Vlach voivode Mihai Vityazal. Excavations on the site of Cherven began in 1910. They have discovered remains of inner fortified walls, reinforced by forts and bastions, walls of a boyar’s castle, walls of an Episcopal church, as well as an impressive 12 m high guard tower. The Cherven tower is the only remaining mediaeval tower in Bulgaria and was used as a model when the Balduin Tower in Tzarevetz was reconstructed. Some of the archaeological finds from Cherven are stored in the National Museum of History, in the National Archaeological Museum and the Regional Museum of History in Ruse. The fortress is open for visitors every day from 09.00 to 18.00.

The faith keepers through the centuries The region of Ruse, Ivanovo and Borovo is also an attractive destination for those who prefer religious tourism. Everyone will be interested in discovering facts about the history of the region, kept behind the walls of the old churches and monasteries in the area. In the centre of Ruse is located the cathedral temple “Holy Trinity”, built in 1632, which makes it the oldest Orthodox church in the Danube town. The church is a half-buried threenave basilica. After the great earthquake from 1805 it was fully renovated to its present appearance. The highest part of the church is the 19 meter high hexagonal bell tower, built of hewn stones taken from the Ruschuk’s fortified wall, which was demolished as per the Berlin peace traty from 1878. The miraculous icon “Holy Mother of God Tenderness”, dated back to the end of the XVII century, as well as a rich collection of ancient icons and church plate are among the precious belongings of the temple. The newest Christian temple in Ruse – „Saint Petka” is known as the only successful replica of the famous Golden church, built by Tsar Simeon I in Preslav in the early tenth century. The construction of the “Saint Petka”

church began in the late 30s of the XX century and painting the murals in it took twenty years. The construction of the temple was financed by donations from the local community and the Municipality of Ruse. The temple impresses with its unique dome sizes – diameter 13.30 m and 16.15 m internal height. The bell tower is 22.70


meters high. The cathedral “St. Paul of the Cross” represents the Roman Catholic Church in Ruse. The construction of the temple began in 1890 and two years later the building was completed. The design of the temple was made by the Italian architect Valentino del‘AntonioBorkan, who also developed the plan for the cathedral in Varna. Architecturally the temple is a perfect example of NeoGothic style. The iconostasis and the furnishing were made in Bohemia, and the stained glass windows were made by Hungarian masters. Perhaps the most impressive item, kept in the church, is an organ – the oldest musical instrument of this kind in Bulgaria. Also in Ruse is situated the oldest Armenian church in Bulgaria, declared a cultural monument the temple “Surp Astvadzadzin” (Armenian for “Holy Mother of God”) was built back in 1610. Its present appearance the temple


acquired after 1832, when a fire urged its full reconstruction. Like the Orthodox Christian churches dating from the period of the Ottoman rule, the Armenian church in Ruse is also half-buried in the ground. The unique architecture of the temple is distinguished by three naves of the central altar eminence. In the storage room there is a smaller alter, called by the local Armenians “The small Mother of God” which is believed to have miraculous powers. The “Saint Ivan of Rila” church in the village of Brestovitsa was declared a cultural and art monument. The most notable items in the church are its five richly decorated church bells, a gift from the Russian Imperial Family after the Liberation war of 1877-1878. The church was built in 1876 after years of struggle between the Christian population of the village and

the Ottoman government. At the end the building was constructed with the help of the Russian consul in Ruschuk. The only active rock-hewn monastery in Bulgaria “St. Dimitar of Basarbovo� is located in the Valley of Rusenski Lom River. The monastery was founded in the early years of the Second Bulgarian Empire (XIIXIV century). It was mentioned for the first time in Ottoman tax records from the the XV century. Perhaps the most famous inhabitant of the monastery and its patron is St. Dimitar of Basarbovo, who was born in 1685 in the village of Basarbovo, and spent his entire life in the holy monastery. 48 stairs lead from the cave dining room, built in the middle of the XX century, to a rock platform where the niche where St. Dimitar slept is situated. To the right there is a rock church with a wood-carved

iconostasis made in 1941, and next to it is the large icon of the saint, pictured in full-length. Along a stone staircase one can reach the natural cave, in which the monk Hrisant, who restored the monastery and took it back to life in 1937, was buried. The cave serves as an ossuary, in which the museum exposition is arranged.


World cultural heritage in the region

World cultural heritage in the region 18 km to the south of Ruse, in the “Pismata” (the writings) area near the village of Ivanovo is located the National archaeological reserve “Rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo”, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Unlike traditional monasteries, which consist of 1 or 2 churches, residential and farming buildings, the Ivanovo complex includes numerous churches, chapels and cells, hewn in the rocks along the Valley of Rusenski Lom River. Pathways and stone stairs connect the premises. In the past there were more than 40 churches, and around 300 cells. They were inhabited by monks, primarily engaged in literary and educational activities. The Ivanovo churches are among the hundreds of Bulgarian medieval rock churches, monasteries and hermitages that turned the Valley of Rusenski Lom and its feeders into a famous Orthodox and literary centre in the period X-XIV centuries. The rock-hewn


churches and all premises around them form the large rock monastery named “St. Archangel Michael”, founded in the 20s of the XIII century by the monk Yoakim, who later became the first patriarch of Tarnovo. The monastery has a complex structure, uniting complexes of rock-hewn premises around the so called “Buried” church (the “St. Archangel Michael” chapel), the Baptistery, God‘s Gorge, the „Ruined“ Church („St. Theodor“) and the church „Holy Mother of God“. At the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire the monastery was exceptionally favored by the Bulgarian rulers. The tsars Ivan Asen II (12181241) and Ivan Alexander (13311371) were among its donators,

along with other nobles, whose portraits are preserved in the rock complex to the present day. Tsar Georgi Terter I (12801292) spent his last years at the monastery, where he passed. Six of the monastery’s churches keep murals, which are an exceptional example of the exquisiteness of the medieval religious art in Bulgaria in the XIII-XIV centuries. The main church in the complex “Holy Mother of God” is hewn at a height of 38 m and is entirely covered on the inside with biblical and gospel scenes and images. Among them are “The Last Supper”, “Entry into Jerusalem”, St. John the Baptist and scenes from his life, „The Passion of the Christ“, images of the apostles and other saints. These murals are among the most representative models of Paleologus Art on the Balkan Peninsula. Their exceptional artistic qualities are the reason for their inclusion in the UNESCO List of World cultural heritage. In the XIV century the monastery became a center of hesychasm – a mystic trend in Orthodox Christianity which prophesized that the

experiential knowledge of God can only be achieved through intense prayer and retiring inward. The rock monastery „St. Archangel Michael“ continued its existence during the early ages of the Ottoman Dominion, but gradually declined. In the XVIII century it was a popular place of pilgrimage. Today Ivanovo rock-hewn churches are a part of the expositions of the Regional Museum of History in Ruse. The complex is open for visitors everyday from 09.00 to 18.00, without day-off.


Regional Museum of History Ruse and its expositions The history of the regional Museum of History in Ruse can be traced back to 1904, when the archaeological collections of the brothers Karel and Hermann Skorpil, who discovered the Sexaginta Prista fortress, and the collections of the life scientist Vasil Kovachev were exhibited in the Boys’ High School “Knyaz Boris I”. Since 2007 the extensive collection of the museum has been housed in the building of the former Regional Administration, that had been planned to be the residence of Prince Alexander of Battenberg I, dubbed to the present day the Battenberg Palace. The architectural design of the building is the work of the architect Friedrich Grünanger, who was responsible for the reconstruction of Sofia’s town-hall into a royal palace. Today the museum has seven expositions, three of them are outdoors – Roman fortress Sexaginta Prista, Rockhewn churches of Ivanovo and Medieval fortified town of Cherven. The permanent


exhibition „Sexaginta Prista and Yatrus“ is situated in two halls within the museum building. In the first hall are shown unique Thracian and early Roman items and jewelry, found in the region. The second hall includes items from the period of the late Antiquity and the First Bulgarian Empire (VII-XI centuries). The world‘s oldest Cyrillic writing can be seen in the museum in Ruse. A unique late Roman cavalry helmet is also a part of the exhibition. The exhibition „Mammoth hunters and farmers“ represents the life of prehistoric men. Ceramic tools, bones of prehistoric mammals, found in the region of Ruse, testify to the economic, social and religious practices of the ancient farmers.

The exhibition “Music box” includes items from the musical culture of Ruse, formed under the influence of the European classic from the XIX century. The exposition consists of furniture, used in the home music rooms and personal belongings of musicians from Ruse. The Regional Museum of History also preserves a reproduction of the Thracian silver treasure of Borovo, found in 1974. The exposition consists of five silver-gilt items. Also part of the museum‘s collection is the silver treasure, found in the surroundings of the village of Baniska, which includes pieces of jewelry – fine examples of medieval Bulgarian jewellery making. Working hours of the museum: every day from 09.00 to 18.00, without day-off.

The Museum of urban lifestyle, commonly known as the „Calliope House“ is the first ethnographic museum in Bulgaria dedicated to the urban culture. The exposition is housed in a building, built in 1864, which accommodated the Prussian consulate. Urban legend has it that the house was a personal gift from the governor of the Danube Vilayet Midhat Pasha for the beautiful Calliope (Maria Kalish), wife of the Prussian consul Maurice Kalish. The items in the museum give an impression about the important role Ruse played at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX centuries as a connection to Europe and ambassador of the European urban culture in Bulgaria. On the first floor there is a temporary exhibition presenting various collections


from museum items, illustrating the developed commercial and cultural relations of the town of Ruse and the quickly assimilated by the local citizens new cultural models of holiday and everyday life. The second floor presents an exemplary interior of a wealthy city home with the typical rooms – guest room, music room for home concerts, hostess room and bedroom. The rooms are furnished with furniture imported from Austria and Germany, and the decoration consists of myriad items of porcelain, glass, silver, mother-of-pearl, symbolizing the material prosperity of the wealthy families of Ruse. Working hours: from 09.00 to 12.00 and from 12.30 to 17.30. The exhibition in the Housemuseum „Zahari Stoyanov“


is dedicated to the famous Bulgarian Revival family Obretenovi. Various items, presenting the life and the work of the honored family are gathered in four rooms. One of them is a reconstruction of the cabinet of Nikola Obretenov. Another room is dedicated to the Obretenovi family’s history and shows preserved personal belongings. The items in the third room pay respect to the revolutionary movement as an expression of the pursuit of freedom of the Bulgarians. Special attention is paid to Hadzhi Dimitar and Stefan Karadzha, in whose band in 1868 were two of the sons of famous Grandmother Tonka Obretenova. The sabre of Stefan Karadzha is also exhibited in

this room. The fourth room presents the role of the Obretenovi family in the next stages of the Revolutionary movement and the formation of Ruse revolutionary committee in the house of Grandmother Tonka, a committee led by her son Nikola Obretenov. The House-museum „Zahari Stoyanov“ was founded in 1978 as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Bulgarian liberation from Ottoman dominion. Working hours of the exposition: from Tuesday to Saturday from 09.00 to 12.00 and from12.30 to 17.30. The museum exhibition „Pantheon of National Revival heroes“ is a monumentossuary, built in memory of 453 revolutionaries and

cultural-enlightening figures, who lived in the time of the Bulgarian Revival. The remains of 39 famous Bulgarians, among them Lyuben Karavelov, Zahari Stoyanov, Stefan Karadzha and Nikola Obretenov are kept in the ossuary. The construction of the Pantheon began in 1977, on the site of the “All saints” church. The construction was completed in 1978, when the museum exhibition was officially opened. Until 1989 under the golden dome of the Pantheon there was an eternal flame. The Pantheon is located in the Park of the Revival heroes. Working hours: daily from 09.00 to 12.00 and from 12.30 to 17.30.


National Museum of Transport

National Museum of Transport The unique Bulgarian National Museum of Transport is housed in the building of the first railway station in Bulgaria, situated in the town of Ruse.

The museum was founded in 1996 commemorating the 100th anniversary of railroads in Bulgaria, with the first railway in the country connecting the towns of Ruse and Varna. The building of the railway station in Ruse that houses the museum was built between 1864 and 1866. The design was made by the English company of


William Gladstone. The entire station complex was built by a British company and featured an entrance building, water tower, medical service building, switchman office and a quay wall. The station worked until 1954, and in 1974 the building was declared a historic monument. The museum presents in three departments the development of railway transport, river shipping and communications in Bulgaria. The indoor exposition of the museum, features communication equipment, many pictures, documents, personal belongings of transport workers , as well as banners and leaflets, representing the history of transport in Bulgaria. Undoubtedly the most attractive part of the museum is the outdoor exposition. On three tracks in the park area of the museum are shown cars and locomotives, some of which

originate from the early years of railway transport in Bulgaria. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the luxury and elegance of the notorious car № 1, also known as „Sultanie“. It was commissioned in 1866 for sultan Abdul Azis. In the middle of the car there is an openspace platform that looks like a porch and at each end of the car there is a saloon. The interior impresses with royal splendor in royal blue with oriental bronzegold ornaments. Locomotive № 148 was produced in that period too. It was one of the first steam locomotives imported from England to carry passengers and mail on the railway line Ruse-Varna, which it served until 1901. In 1924 the locomotive was stored by Tsar Boris III in the royal remise. Another interesting item is car № 5, commissioned in 1894 for King Ferdinand, who was an avid traveler and quite taken by railways. The

Bulgarian ruler could even drive the locomotive, something that he liked to demonstrate to the surprise of his guests. The car impresses with its equipment, which was considered very modern for its time. There was even a refrigerator in the kitchen. The heir of King Ferdinand, King Boris III, was like his own father a fan of railway transport. His car № 17, also part of the open-air museum exposition, was manufactured in 1911 in Germany. The car is divided into three parts – a room for business meetings, dining room with sliding tables and a kitchen. The dining room is covered with mahogany and mother-of-pearl details and is furnished with beautiful furniture, 3 double dial-faced clocks, crystal mirrors and even fans. Working hours of the National Museum of Transport and Communications: daily from 09.00 to 17.30, day-off Sunday.


Little Vienna The architectural appearance of Ruse is its distinctive feature, its trade mark within Bulgaria.

The first one to undertake big changes in the urban planning of the town was Midhat Pasha. Under his rule Ruschuk (the old name of Ruse) obtained roads, paved sidewalks like in Europe and two big hotels. The real boom in terms of architecture the town experienced in the late XIX century and early XX


century. An important role in the implementation of the modern urban planning in the town played the foreign architects and engineers, who had arrived in the town. Ruse owns its specific appearance to the numerous residential and public buildings, whose architecture incorporates elements of Neo Classicism, Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance, Empire and others. This specific look earned it the name “The little Vienna”. The most notable buildings in the town can be seen on the streets „Alexandrovska“, „Nikolaevska“, „Knyazheska“ and „Slavyanska“. Among the most impressive architectural examples are the building of the Regional Administration, Dohodno Zdanie building, the house of Andrea Turio, etc. The Regional Administration building, commonly known as the Battenberg Palace is the

oldest building in Ruse from the Neoclassicism period. It was built in 1882 by the Austrian architect Friedrich Grünanger. Primarily the building was supposed to be the official residence in Ruse of the Bulgarian prince Alexander Battenberg I, but after the construction of the royal palace in Sofia, it was used as Regional Administration. Nowadays the building houses the Regional Museum of History Ruse. Certainly one of Ruse’s symbols is the building Dohodno zdanie – an extremely beautiful edifice, designed by Vienna’s architect Paul Brank and built in the period 18981902. The name of the building can be translated as “The Profit Edifice”. This interesting name comes from the primary idea of the building. It was supposed to bring profit to the school board at that time. The profit was planned to come from renting the shops, the theater, the casino and the library, housed in the building. The whole building is decorated with many ornaments and elements, but the most impressive are the seven stone figures on the roof. They symbolize art, science, agriculture, crafts, trade, defense and free spirit. On top of them is placed the symbol of trade – Mercury. Today the building is

used by Sava Ognyanov Drama Theater – Ruse. The house of Andrea Turio, called by locals ”Vienna House“ was built in 1900 with materials, specially delivered from all over the world. The rooms are decorated with frescoes in the style of the Pompeian mural paintings. The wall papers in the bedroom are hand-painted. Other interesting buildings from architectural and historical point of view, are the house where was the store of the grandfather of Ruse-born Nobel Prize laureate in Literature Elias Canetti, the building of the first Bulgarian naval observation tower and weather station and the bank of the famous bankers brothers Ivanitsa and Stefan Simeonovi.


Rusenski Lom Nature Park

Rusenski Lom Nature Park In the eastern part of the Danubian Plain, 20 km to the south of Ruse is located Rusenski Lom Nature Park – named after Rusenski Lom River, the last right-side tributary of Danube in Bulgaria. In 1970 it was declared a protected area with a territory of 22 267 decares. Today the area of the park is 32 600 decares.

The park Rusenski Lom is an example of a successful combination of eco-and cultural tourism. Beautiful river terraces, high cliffs, caves, rock formations, numerous meanders, rich biodiversity and historical monuments make it an exceptional place to visit. Apart from the fact that Rusenski Lom Nature Park is suitable


for scientific research, it also provides various opportunities for active tourism – a challenge of nature for modern man. The combination of rocks, forests, rivers, caves and meadows is the reason for the extremely rich biodiversity. The number of plant species in Rusenski Lom Nature Park is 902. The fauna consists of 10 amphibians (5 of which are protected), 19 reptiles, 22 types of fish, crayfish, snails and river mussels, and 66 mammals. The birds are among the most important inhabitants of the park. Many European endangered species can be seen here. That is the reason why the Valley of Rusenski Lom River is known as an important ornithological site. In Rusenski Lom Nature Park can be seen 190 species, 110 of which nest there. The conditions in the park are particularly favourable to rock-nesting birds,

such as the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the Long-Legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), the Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), etc. The area offers anglers options to practice sport fishing. Hunting unlike fishing is not allowed within the park area. The Valley of Rusenski Lom River and its feeders has been inhabited by humans since ancient times. In the middle ages many hermits found solitude here. The cells they used, partially preserved, can be seen in the rocks around. The National archaeological reserve “Rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo�, part of World Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO and the Medieval fortified town of Cherven are located within the park. Any of the specially developed routes in the park

gives a unique opportunity to see its diversity. They are targeting not only the experienced eco lovers, but also tourists, who prefer active outdoor recreation. The combination of historical monuments and biological diversity provides a unique opportunity to combine diverse interests, even in small groups. All routes are well-marked and do not require special training to cover. If tourists follow the marking closely, they will not have to be accompanied by guides from the nature park. Guided tours are only available upon request in advance. Lighting fires outside the spots that are especially designed for the purpose is prohibited. Information materials and souvenirs are sold at the stores in the towns and the villages located on the territory of the park.


Ecotrails and natural attractions The specific natural landscapes, the subalpine relief, the numerous protected areas and the biological diversity make the tourist region of Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo an attractive destination for fans of ecotourism. The area offers excellent opportunities for organizing ornithological and botanical tours or hiking trips. Undisputedly the best known part of the region is Rusenski Lom Nature Park. The park has a good information infrastructure (signs, markings), places for rest, etc. The theme routes, one of them with a kayak, offer adventurous and enjoyable stay in the park On the territory of Rusenski Lom


Nature Park is located the second longest cave in Bulgaria Orlova chuka – 13 437 m long. The cave has undergone some improvements in its easily accessible areas and is convenient for visitors. Of particular interest is the huge Singing Dripstone that has been formed for millions of years. When knocking on it, the dripstone chimes like a music instrument. The water spring in the cave is believed to have miraculous power – legend has it that the dearest wish of the one who drinks from the water or even just dips his fingers in it will come true. A steep path with stairs leads to the entrance of the cave. From the terrace in front of the entrance there is a magnificent view at the Rusenski Lom Nature Park and the beautiful rock formations around. The breeding ponds “Bear” are a protected area located 4 km from the village

of Mechka (Bear). The ponds are surrounded by meadows full of fescue and meadowgrass, etc. The slopes are covered with mixed deciduous forests of oaks, silver linden, elm and field maple. The breeding ponds are an important waterfowl habitat. Here there are 177 bird species, 62 of which are listed in the Red Book of Bulgaria. The ponds are of national importance for breeding Ferruginous Duck and of international importance for breeding Little Bittern, who nests here. Rarely here can be observed another 5 globally endangered species – Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle and Aquatic Warbler during the migration, the Lesser White-fronted Goose and Redbreasted Goose in winter. The breeding ponds are among the most important places in the country for protecting the Whiskered tern and the Black tern, the Night heron and the Squacco heron, the Black stork, the Mute swan, the White and the Ruddy shelduck, the Sea eagle and the Short-

toed snake eagle, etc. Near the breeding ponds “Mechka” is Doychov Island, a protected area, incorporating the habitats of the Sea eagle and floodplain forests. The dominant plant species on the island are white willow, black and white poplars. The island is the habitat of the Little Egret, as well as of the Gray, Red and Night herons. Other interesting natural attractions in the region are the natural phenomenon near the village of Stalpishte – the rock formation Dikilitash and the ancient Tserova forest in the vicinity of the village of Tserovets, Ivanovo Municipality.


Sports and adventures

Sports and adventures The water resources, the biological diversity and the specific relief make the region Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo an attractive destination for practicing various activities such as kayaking, mountain biking, horse riding, trekking, bungee jumping, rock climbing.

The large number of marked hiking trails is a wonderful way to explore the beautiful scenery of the Danubian Plain. Some of them include climbing, ornithological observations, visiting caves and cultural and


historical sites as the Rockhewn churches of Ivanovo and the Medieval fortified town of Cherven. Danube itself offers many opportunities for practicing water sports, water tourism, fishing and other activities. In Rusenski Lom Nature Park there is a specially developed route that shows the tourists the magnificent Valley of Rusenski Lom River while canoeing for 12 km along the river. A captivating view of steep river banks, ancient forests, meadows with flowers and herbs, birds and wild animals is revealed after each meander. The river route ends at an extreme climbing trail, winding along the edge of a cliff 40 meters above the ground. The Loms (Rusenski Lom River and its feeders Beli, Mali and

Cherni Lom) have created over the centuries beautiful gorges in the limestone bedrock – an ideal place for rock climbing. Yantra River offers excellent opportunities for kayaking among the rocks overhanging the water down to the mouth of Yantra and Dunav Rivers. Every year Ruse hosts sporting events, including water attractions and mountain biking. In close vicinity to the town are located two large parks, offering a breath of fresh air amidst the big city rush. The West Park “Prista” is situated a few kilometers from Ruse on the road to the town of Byala. The park impresses with its well-maintained deciduous forests, beautiful alleys and easy access. There is a public transportation service to the park. Buses driving in the direction Mechka and Pirgovo also pass near the park. Within the park there are a tourist lodge, a camping, a motel, restaurants, a football pitch and a guarded beach in summer. Part of the park is the attractive island „Lyulyak“ (Lilac), which is a favorite spot of locals for sunbathing. 12 km to the east of Ruse is another great site

for recreation, sport, tourism, sunbathing and all sorts of entertainment – park „Lipnik“ (lime tree). It is located in a vast forest of lime trees with an area of about 20,000 acres, hence the name of the area. The park is considered to be the largest forest park in Bulgaria. There are tourist cottages, ponds, a zoo, playgrounds, sports facilities, a camping site, a hotel and restaurants in the park. Every year on August 2 – Ilinden, a traditional gathering takes place in the park. City buses go to the park.


Hunting and fishing

Hunting and fishing The specific location of the region Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo offers excellent conditions for hunting and fishing trips, which can be combined with trips to some of the many cultural and historical sites around.

The area is a favorite destination for fans of river fishing. The rivers Danube, Rusenski Lom (and its feeders Beli, Cherni and Mali Lom) and Yantra are among the most popular places for practicing the favorite hobby. In Rusenski Lom Nature Park there are options for sport fishing. Here you can fish for carp, chub, grass carp,


perch and others. There are also good conditions for fishing at the dams „Baniska“, „Bosilkovtsi“, „Nikolovo“ and „Teketo”. Here you can fish for whitefish, catfish, carp, bream, pike and others. The devoted hunters will also find their favorite place in the region Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo. On the territory of the region is situated the game-breeding farm “Dunav”. Its hunting area amounts to 5,627 hectares. The main game species that inhabit the area are red deer, roe deer, wild boar, hares, partridges, wolf, jackal and fox. In the Dunav game-breeding farm there are also pheasants, guinea fowl and wild ducks. You can also hunt for woodpigeon, dove, quail and some waterfowls. Dunav gamebreeding farm offers excellent conditions for eco tourism, photo-safari and organized hunting trips. Two hunting lodges provide accommodation within the farm.

Gastronomic tour along the Danube The cuisine of the region, a combination of Bulgarian traditions and foreign influences, was strongly influenced by the thousands years of history and the available natural resources, which include several rivers. The food in the tourist destination Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo is colorful and diverse, consisting mainly of fish. In the settlements along the Danube River, including Ruse, a delicious fish soup, incorporating various fish types is cooked. Lovely places on the banks of the rivers welcome guests with local fish dishes and a stunning view. For nature lovers the region provides an opportunity to catch and cook your own fish. The local food includes far more than fish. Much of the recipes are passed from generation to generation and have remained unchanged for years. Typical local meals are echenitsa, made from chopped walnuts, scalded with water and mixed with pieces of fish, garlic, oil, red pepper, fried piperenitsa – fried pickles with onion and eggs and kukulaza – bread scalded with cabbage juice and chillies . As expected Ruse’s cuisine is more refined and has been influenced

to great extent by the European countries, connected to the town through Danube. The proximity of Romania has an impact on the cuisine of the whole region.


Winemaking has a long tradition in the tourist destination Ruse-IvanovoBorovo, being part of the northern wine region, spreading between the Balkan and Danube. The wines produced here are mainly Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Muscat, Otonel, Gamza, the popular in the recent past Rkaziteli and Sauvignon Blanc which has been recently growing in popularity in Bulgaria. The industrial winemaking in the region is located mainly around Ruse. Some of the wineries in the region have gained worldwide fame and a number of prestigious awards. Most wineries offer tastings


on site and have specially equipped rooms for this purpose. You can organize both group and private events there. A reservation beforehand is recommended. In the wineries you can get detailed information on the conditions offered. Many wineries offer boutique wines that you can take home as a souvenir from the Valley of Rusenski Lom River. The region Ruse-Ivanovo-Borovo is a haven for the gourmet cuisine lovers, as well as for the firm believers in tradition. Here you can taste both fine fish delicacies accompanied by a bottle of high-quality wine and traditional meals, prepared according to old recipes.

Cultural calendar The cultural calendar of the municipalities Ruse, Ivanovo and Borovo is notable for the wide variety of music, theatrical, dance, poetical and art festivals. While the events in the municipalities Borovo and Ivanovo are more local, Ruse is a famous destination for the art lovers. The town has long traditions when it comes to organizing international cultural events.

One the oldest and most important cultural events in Bulgaria is the International festival “March Music Days”. The festival stems from 1961, turning Ruse into one of the most attractive cultural destinations in Southeastern Europe. The festival presents the best of world and European music classics, as well as many musical pieces from the XX century, including music, specially composed for the festival. At present, the festival has developed as an open form of culture, universal place for contacts and exchange of recent European festival practices: symphonic and chamber concerts, performances, master classes, workshops and exhibitions. The festival is a member of the

European Festivals Association (EFA). The Summer Music Days „Scene by the river“ are organized by the State Opera in Ruse. The festival is a meeting point for opera and ballet artists from Bulgaria and abroad. Performances


take place within a month every summer on the stage of the summer theatre in Ruse. Every second year since 1996, Ruse hosts the International theatrical festival. The festival is a colorful meeting of theater groups from Bulgaria and abroad, part of the cultural life of European cities situated on the banks of the Danube River and on the Balkan Peninsula. Within a week the festival scene presents a variety of genres and nationalities and theater schools. The discussions that take place during the festival provide a more comprehensive view on the contemporary problems of the theater art. Every year in August and September Rusenski Lom Nature Park becomes inspiration and scene for creating contemporary works of art (installations, sculptures, audio-visual compositions, etc.) related to the topic Ecological balance in the park. In the course of seven days different artists from Bulgaria and abroad visit the magnificent Valley of Rusenski Lom River and the surroundings, learn about the traditions and the nature of Bulgaria, The festival began in 2000 under the name “Ekoart”, and is known nowadays as “Via Lomea”.


During summer months, residents and visitors of Ruse can attend events from the summer cultural program of the town. Outdoor concerts are held on the open stages in the town center from June to August. The program includes pop, rock, jazz and classical concerts, international folklore performances and movie nights. The open stage of Sexaginta prista also offers a series of cultural events during the summer. Jazz music has its own place in the cultural life of Ruse. The yearly held International BluezzFest, attended by some of the most famous Bulgarian and foreign jazz, rock and blues artists and bands, sets standards in the genre. One of the oldest and most renowned festivals in Bulgaria, which gathers in Ruse the elite of Bulgarian jazz scene – the National jazz meeting is held every year in November. The Autumn Salon of Arts and Culture is a series of events – festivals, concerts, performances, exhibitions, meetings, readings, film screenings and alternative art forms, which is held every year from September to November. The International festival for alternative cinema also takes place in the fall. One of the oldest festivals for traditional culture and folklore „Zlatna

gadulka” (golden harp) is organized by the Municipality of Ruse in June on an open stage. Over 40 years the gathering has presented the variety of Bulgarian vocal, instrumental, dance and ritual traditions. The program features dance and vocal groups, musicians, storytellers and folk customs groups. Every year in June the streets of Ruse brighten up for three days during the lavish Ruse carnival, which is a significant event in the town. The Tourist entertainments and animations festival is held as part of the travel exhibition „Weekend tourism“. The best historical re-enactment groups in Bulgaria take part in it. The theatrical performances

feature folklore and classical animation. „I, the city“ is an eight-day festival for contemporary urban culture, incorporating innovative and wide open for participation interactive art forms in the fields audiovisual works, performances, happenings and contemporary art forms, including: re-enactments, situational theater, jazz, rock, and ethno performances and happenings, multimedia performances and installations, DJ & VJ sets, outdoor photo shoots, audio-visual performances, smartphone culture.


The cultural events in the municipalities Ivanovo and Borovo are directly related to the work of the local community centers. The amateur theatrical groups, the vocal groups for authentic folklore and old popular music are the main drivers of cultural life in the settlements in the region. Their activities are essential for keeping the traditions, which mark various religious holidays such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St. Trifon the Pruner, Day of St. Lazar and Easter. The events in


the cultural calendar of the Municipality Ivanovo are local and usually mark religious or national holidays. Some of the interesting events are the Mushroom festival in the village of Krasen and the Literary festival „Svetlostrui“ in the village of Shtraklevo. A rich cultural program marks every year the Day of Borovo, celebrated on September 5. Borovo also hosts the folklore festival “From Danube to the Balkan” which attracts more and more participants from Bulgaria and abroad.



43°50’59.93’’N 25°58’47.71’’E

Basarbovo 43°45’38.18’’N 25°57’10.11’’E


43°41’12.23’’N 25°57’24.15’’E


Ekzarh Yosif

43°36’47.19’’N 26°1’23.09’’E

43°36’59.27’’N 25°47’9.28’’E

N Brestovitsa 43°32’1.04“N 25°45’1.19“E




43°29’23.80’’N 25°48’35.95’’E



1st class road cultural landmark

2nd class road railway line Municipal border

natural landmark

city/town village

Silistra Vidin Ruse Montana



Dobrich Targovishte

Shumen Varna

Lovech Veliko Tarnovo Gabrovo


Pernik SOFIA Kyustendil


Stara Zagora Pazardzhik Plovdiv Haskovo Smolyan




This guide was created within the project “Rivers of time” under contract №BG161PO001/3.2-02/2011/003 which is implemented with the financial support of the Operational Programme “Regional Development” 2007-2013, co-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund. The full responsibility for the content of the guide lies with the Municipality of Ruse and under no circumstances it can be considered that this document reflects the official position of the European Union and the Managing Body.

Guide - Rivers of Time  


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