Archives for April2016


In the Northern Lands of Rusenski Lom

By the Damage

Rusenski Lom Nature Park is located 20 km South of the city of Rousse and is named after the Rusenski Lom River – the last of the right tributaries of the Danube. In 1970, it is declared a protected zone and its total area accounts for 3,408 hectares, the National Tourist Portal diligently informs us. Subsequently, Rusenski Lom proved to be much more than this.

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Jagged cliffs, covered with greenery and daphne surround the river at the entrance of the Park and create the feeling of an approaching adventure you are about to plunge into that will take you back in time and will reveal the secrets of this place. The awareness of mystery is further extended once find ourselves in front of the Ivanovo Rock Churches. It is not by coincidence that the rock monastery complex is proclaimed World Heritage by UNESCO. Carved high in the rocks are the rooms that nature and man’s diligent hands decades ago carved in the name of faith. The preserved wall paintings are colorful and vibrant. Created by prominent artists they demonstrate the importance of this Medieval spiritual center.

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Crossing Rusenski Lom and following the winding path along the cliff, we realize that the Rock Churches are just one of the many wonders in this area. Lush vegetation, ceaseless bird songs, and more and more hidden by time and not well-known rock churches are about to be revealed. We try not to miss any of them: The Baptistery, God’s Gorge, St. Theodore. The views disclosed before our eyes are awe-inspiring: the curvy body of the river lazily winds below, decorated with flowers and green grass on both banks. Bees are happily buzzing and the scented odor of greenery and spring overwhelms us. The soul dissolves and quietly you start to sing childhood songs which wind carries away and through the gorge.

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The expedition courageously continues forward. This time the voyage leading us here has a cause: to help the busy young people from the local Rousse Bike Association to clean up the cycling trail along the river from the fallen trees. We all struggle with the overgrown vegetation, form teams for quick response, cut the branches and collect them afterwards in teams. Our day is a mixture of hard work, joy and laughter that makes the work easy-going.

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The day passes so imperceptibly that it’s now time for a well-deserved rest. Our group heads to the nearby village of Koshov where our hospitable hosts greet us with a delicious dinner – coziness is all around. When the first stars appear on the sky, the hill opposite us reveals a magnificent sight – herds of sheep return from pasture and they process towards the cave over the sheep house and disappear in it to spend the night there safe. Only their bells can be heard from the distance behind the huge mouth of the cave that seemed to have swallowed them.

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The next day is again dedicated to cleaning up paths, but before we get down to it, we go to see the bird-watching hiding place on a hill in Koshov. Vultures are nowhere to be seen, but the scenery is impressive. The sky is low and gray, but the air is fresh and the day promises to be one of beauty and spring. We start cleaning the path that goes around the Medieval Town of Cherven. Shortly after we face our first challenge: a half-destroyed wooden bridge we must get through to reach the passage leading to a rock church – actually, to the only church on the territory of the Medieval town.

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The bridge-passing is successful unlike the cleanup. The terrain is steep and deep into vegetation. This doesn’t stop our team, which some likened to Japanese excavators or carpenter ants. Once we pick up momentum we soldier on and make the clearing in the Rusenski Lom jungle. And then it turns out that that this is not the way leading up to the church. We look at each other – all sweaty and tired. Someone giggles and a second later our mighty laughter echoes in the air around. We continue forward, clearing a new path in no time at all and we suggest that someone cuts a ribbon like our current government reps love to do to mark the grand opening of a new highway that would last for a season – if we are lucky. This time, however, we are on the right spot, the rock church, which has definitely deserved all efforts we put into getting to it. We see a large oval niche in the rock, additional man-made grooves in the stone that time ago held wooden gates, preserved murals and carved trapezoid niches, once tombs for the monks, carved in floor. It is clear that no one has set foot here for years.

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Time for some history lessons. We walk through the Medieval Town of Cherven, the remains of churches, towers and its past splendour, which we can only hear about now. Another look around at the impressive nature and it’s time for us to leave. We do not want to leave this strange land – Rusenski Lom Nature Park. There is so much to discover: Orlova Chuka cave, the village of Nisovo, the alleged Templar cemetery, more rock churches, more paths to clean, more and more as if the thought echoes in our minds on the way back to Sofia.. Anyway, we’ll see you soon – and that’s a promise!

The photos in the article are owned by this website.

Eco-Museum

eko2The Eco-Museum with Aquarium was opened in 2014 and is one out of the nine museums and historic sites in and around the city managed by the Regional Museum of History in Ruse.

It is located in the newly-renovated square between the Regional Museum of History, the Old Post Office, the Library, and the Hristo Botev School (the Bastille as the locals refer to it). It takes up a 1901- designed building by city engineer Edward Winter initially intended to serve the Municipal Administration. In 2015, the Museum participated in the Building of the Year National Competition.

The idea of an eco-museum has developed for nearly ten years. The idea behind such an initiative is to reveal the relationship between humans and their surrounding environment, on the one hand, and the effects that human activity has on nature.

Right from the entrance the Museum strikes you with its bright, friendly, and unobtrusive atmosphere. A mural dedicated to the years of chlorine pollution of the city in the 1980s, which, after all, led to the first protests during Communism in the country, is located in the lobby.

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Some of the artifacts exhibited in the Museum are unique. Here is the world’s only fully preserved lower jaw of Eurasian Mammoth, one of the earliest settlers in these lands about 2,000,000 years ago. Also, the Museum maintains the only freshwater aquarium in the country where visitors can see fish from the Danube habitat.

eko7The exhibited species range from endangered ones, such as the Bulgarian Sea Eagle, whose number in the country accounts for only 6 individuals, through species that live together in Danubian areas, to fossils dating back to some 400 million years ago. One of the most interesting fossils is the Nautilus, which, unlike other exponents of this type, survived with its shell preserved. You can have a look at the impressive mammoth bones and the famous Mammoth reconstruction at the Museum.

Along with rare and valuable species on display, the Museum impresses with its cozy atmosphere, and the attention-grabbing approach of presenting information to the children. Interactive games, mobile dashboards, as well as the opportunity to touch some of the exhibits are just some of the ways the Museum applies to integrate children in the complex relation between us, humans, and our natural environment.

Read more about the Eco-Museum with Aquarium here.

Below are some additional photos of the Museum, too – check them out!

The photos in the article are owned by this website.

Kyuntu Kapu

porta4-minTo the immediate left of the Church of St Petka-Paraskeva is the fortress gate called Kyuntu Kapu—a cultural monument of local importance. Kyuntu Kapu literally means “the gate with a pipe”. It is one out of the five gates of the Ottoman fortress Ruschuk. A pipeline that was a part of the water supply system of the town passed by this gate, hence its name. This pipeline supplied water to the fountain in the then St. Georgievski school nearby (now known as Angel Kanchev Primary School). The fountain itself is preserved and is the only one left in Rousse from the 18th century. It is believed that the old Medieval Bulgarian fortress gates looked like the same as the Kyuntu Kapu—casted in iron.

While I’m enthusiastically touring around this ancient medium of history so I can catch the light and make a copule of good photos, a 70-year man passes me by. I greet him—far from the capital city where I live, I become way too kind a person, no doubt about it. He stops and politely asks me if I know what this that I’m feverishly making pics of. We talk.

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History says that after the Liberation, all strongholds in the Principality of Bulgaria were to be demolished under the provisions of the Berlin Peace Treaty of 1878. The Ottoman fortress of the town of Rouschouk, from which the gate is part, made no exception and was completely destroyed but for this small remainder. The man tells me that the fortress wall lowered to the Danube in one direction; in the other, it reached to the railway station nearby, and then down to outline the boundaries of the former city of Rouschouk. The neighbourhood here, he says, was new at the time of the destruction, and people used stone blocks from the ruined fortress to build the houses. I joke that he lives in a historical monument of local importance and he smiles back and waves goodbye.

Read more about Kyuntu Kapu here and here. Some of the materials this article is based on are provided by the Rousse Regional Museum of History. The photographs in this article are property of this site.

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The photos in the article are owned by this website.