Deemed as a Little Vienna, Ruse deserves more than just being the gateway and a necessary stop on the way to Romania. The proof of it is not just magnificent architectural heritage visible in the city centre, but also the fact that in history it was an important cultural, commercial and industrial centre.
Even though it is closer to Bucharest than to Sofia, Ruse is the 5th largest city in Bulgaria, as well as the biggest Bulgarian city on the Danube. Thanks to this river Ruse had a connection to the rest of Europe which ensured its development. Furthermore, at the turn of the 20th century the Italian, Austrian, German and Bulgarian architects were invited to design and construct the architectural environment in its centre. Even today, several buildings are listed as European Heritage.
Despite cold autumn weather and the fact that it is a bit difficult and time-consuming to get from Kazanlak to Ruse by train, we decided to spend a weekend here and find out, how this little piece of Vienna in Bulgaria looks like. The city is not huge and is easily walkable. I am sure that during the summer or sunny days it is extremely picturesque, however, during our visit, the city seems to be depopulated. But this did not screw up our impression. Anyways, I would describe it as that kind of city where you can slowly stroll, enjoy a coffee in some small cute café and take the ambience of richly decorated buildings with a very European look around you.
What one should not miss in Ruse is Freedom Square with The Statue of Liberty with State Opera and the gorgeous Sveta Troitsa Cathedral nearby. Unfortunately, we did not manage to visit the must-see attraction in Ruse – the Roman Castle of Sexagina Peista since it was closed. However, there are many museums in the city, which offers a nice opportunity to spend a cold windy day. I can highly recommend Regional Historical Museum, which contains prehistoric ceramics found in this area, treasures, medieval frescos, porcelain, coins, bones and much more. Also, do not miss the fascinating building of the Pantheon of Natural Revival Heroes, which was built as a commemoration for Bulgarians who dedicated their lives to the liberation of Bulgaria.
After exploring a great deal of the history of this region, one can enjoy a bit of fresh air by walking along the Danube, in numerous parks or just roaming in the city centre randomly discovering some architectural gem.