Sightseeing


Holy Trinity Cathedral

For centuries Rousse has been a cozy home for representatives of different ethnic and religious communities, including Armenians, Turks, Jews, and Bulgarians. Yet, Orthodox Christianity remains the official religion in the city and in the country alike. A number of churches have been built through the years, but the one that stands out is the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

светаТроица1Holy Trinity is the oldest church in Rousse. It was built in 1632 and is located right next to the current building of the Opera. In accordance with the provisions of the Turkish authorities stating that Christian churches may not exceed the height of minarets and mosques, the church was dug into the ground 4.5 metres below the ground level. In terms of its architecture, it represents a pseudo basilica about 15 metres wide and 32 meters long.

The story of its construction is unclear. Presumably, on the place where the Church now stands there used to be a catacomb dating back to the 5th century, or a Medieval church. It is assumed that during the Ottoman rule it was easier to be granted a permission to build a new church on the spot where an older church was situated.IMG_5477[1]-min (1)

The way the church looks today has remained the same since the years after the Liberation from Ottoman rule. A stone staircase that replaced the original wooden steps leads into its interior now. To the left is a built-in tombstone of Father Daniel, a longtime teacher at the religious school in the convent next to the church. To the right is a second inscription on a granite slab, which reports about the reconstruction of the church in 1764.

In the vestibule of the church are the graves of four bishops representing the region of the cities of Dorostol and Cherven. These are Bishops Grigoriy, Vasiliy, Mihail, and Sofroniy. In the 19th century Bishop Grigoriy persuaded his friend Zafir Sarooglu to donate the amount of BGN 40,000 for the extension of the church.

IMG_5540[1]-min (1)The most exquisite part of the interior is the hand-made iconostasis crafted dating from 1803-1807. Some say it is the only one in Northern Bulgaria that was created by the famous craftsmen from the Samokov School. According to others, the iconostasis is a work by the masters Marin and Vasil from the renowned Iconographic School in Triavna while the icons are believed to be created by the Vitanovs masters from the same town. Yet others believe that the iconostasis was made by an unknown Wallachian carver. The icons are in the Byzantine style and are decorated between 1805 and 1807. Most of them are believed to have been painted by Zachary Zograf’s father – Hristo Dimitrov.

The church is a home for the miraculous icon of the Holy Virgin of Tenderness, created in the late 17th century. Also, the church keeps relics of St. Theodore of Tyron, St. Panteleimon, St. Evstatia, St. Terentiy, St. Grioriy-Bishop of Serbia as well as St. James of Persia, which indicates that the church was part of the pilgrimage routes in the region.

The bell tower is hexagonal and with its height of 19 meters it is the highest part of the church. Built of hewn stones taken from the ruined wall of Ruschuk Fortress in accordance with the decision of the Berlin Congress from July 1878 to demolish all fortresses and walls from the Ottoman times within a year. Currently, the bell tower has 5 bells.

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After the Liberation, people donated money to build 2 chapels. The first one is dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky. In 1979 it was turned into a museum for icons and old books. The second chapel is dedicated to the brothers St Cyril and Methodius.

Years ago, near the Cathedral was located the old Christian city cemetery. Now in the courtyard you can see 2 monuments of British officers who died in the Crimean War. As the British at that time fought on the side of the Turks, after the Liberation similar monuments have been forgotten and neglected. The ones in the church yard in Rousse are probably the only ones surviving in the country.

Todor Hadzhistanchev, a teacher, created the church choir in 1870. In 2009 the church began publishing its parish bulletin released on major Christian holidays.

The church is connected with some historical events in in the city:

  • The first schools in the country during the Ottoman period were created by the clergy in monasteries and were led by representatives of the clergy. In Rousse, the first schools of this type were started by the palmer Priest Dragni (Father Daniel) over the period 1720-1735. Then for the first time in the city he gathered children in one of the rooms of the convent by the church.
  • The ceremony at which the writer Vasil Drumev assumed the name Archmandrite Clement, received the title Bishop Branitski, and was appointed vicar in Silistra and Tulcha took part in the church on April 21, 1874.
  • The Russian Liberation Forces led by General Totleben were greeted by the townspeople in front of the Cathedral in February 1878.

In 1983, Holy Trinity Cathedral was declared a monument of culture of national importance.

Sources

  1. Nasam Natam
  2. Wikipedia
  3. StrannikBG
  4. Bulgarian Patriarchy
  5. Buildings – the European Cultural Heritage of Rousse (in print)

All photos that are used in the article, except for the first one, are owned by this website.


Profit-Yielding Building

dohodno1 One of the most familiar and iconic buildings in Rousse, the Profit-Yielding Building houses Sava Ognianov Rousse Theatre and is an architectural and a cultural monument of national importance.

After the Bulgarian Liberation in 1878, Rousse becomes the largest city and the greatest economic center in the Principality of Bulgaria. At that time, the local community of residents decided to act upon the idea to construct a building that would act as a cultural hub for the citizens, on the one hand, while its rented premises generate revenues intended for the development of the local schools, on the other.

dohodno2 On October 11, 1896 the Municipal City Council decides to allocate land for a theater building in the city center and announces a competition for its design. The winning project is the architectural plan by the Viennese architect Peter Paul Brang who at the time was designing buildings not only in cities around Bulgaria, but also in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Romania. The construction of the building began in 1898. The main building is completed in 1900 and the construction is officially announced to be over in 1902. The project for the theater premises is done by Mr Turnichek, a teacher in drawing, and by Romeo Giromagny, the Chief Artist of the National Theatre in Bucharest.

The facade of the building is a Neoclassical architectural masterpiece for its time and the decorative elements are in the traditional European 19th-century style. All architectural forms, ornaments and statues of the Profit-Yielding Building are made of stone. Seven figures rise from the roof and symbolize Art, Science, Agriculture, Handcrafts, Trade, Defense, and Flight of the free human spirit. Atop is the statue of Mercury as the symbol of Trade.

dohodno-zdanie-ruse On December 25 and 27, 1901 and on January 8, 1902 in the Casino located at the Profit-Yielding Building the Theatre played the Paris Junkie by Edmond Brizbar and Eugene New. This is considered to be the first performance of the Rousse Theatre in the Building. That is why the history of the Profit-Yielding Building is actually the history of Sava Ognianov Rousse Theatre, which to this day is housed there. Therefore, the more familiar name of the Profit-Yielding Building is simply The Theatre.

From 1928 to 1954 Liuben Karavelov City Library is located in the Building. From 1955 to 1990 the Zora Revival Community Centre is also housed there, and between 1947 and 1979 the Profit-Yielding Building hosts the expositions of the City Art Gallery.dohodno4

In 1975, the local governing body decides on a full reconstruction of the Building. In 1981 it is closed for renovation, but the reconstruction itself begins only a few years later. The overall renewal continues for the next 24 years. Finally, on July 1, 1999 the new Chamber Theatre Hall is officially presented to the public and on December 15, 2005 the new Big Scene Hall welcomes its first audience.dohodno3

In 2014 the Profit-Yielding Building is chosen by public vote the Bulgarian National Iconic Building of the Year.

Sources:

1. Wikipedia
2. To and From
3. Boulevard
4. Vesti

The photos in the article are not 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.


Kyntu 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.


St. Petka-Paraskeva

petka9-minThe Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva is somewhat skipped by the standard tourist routes, which are mostly concentrated in the central parts of the city. It is located at the side of the road leading you out of the city, just right next to the bridge, known amongst the locals as the Snail.

On a cool sunny morning in March the taxi is carefully making progress along the narrow neighborhood street frustratingly studded with asphalt undulations, and stops near the entrance of the Orthodox temple. Out of excitement I can hardly unlock my phone to start making pictures. Though I grew up in Rousse, I have never been here before.

The construction works began in 1939. They were initiated and mainly paid for by a local ceraftsman and businessman. petka2-minThe architecture of the church is a replica of the Round Church built by King Simeon the Great in Veliki Preslav and is the first successful attempt for the architectural plans intended for the restoration of the Golden Church to be implemented. Craftsmen from the city worked on the carving of the iconostasis inside as well as on the painting of murals. The overall financing of the construction was also carried out through donations made by other churches in the city. The church  was completed in 1944 when its consecration was done. It takes its name from the name of the last rock church iin the Rusenski Lom River valley, the Church of Sveta Petka, which was buried under the ground after the Liberation.

A little anteroom with the traditional cabndle-selling counter greets me. Despite the solitude of this remote corner of spirituality, a smiling woman over 60 welcomes me with a good-natured look through her frames. The wood stove is booming and through the glass I see the playful flames darting up and then seemingly safely resting. I talk to her, she comes out following me around smiling, telling me that the Church Administration have applied for funding to restore the temple. I am told the church has never been restored ever since it was built and that the need is acute as the fence and other parts have begun to crumble.

I look at the murals and the painted glass windows, seeing the oozing light streaming through the dome and am engulfed in colour and tranquility. We exchange a few more words about the present and its people, us including, too busy to deny cultural values that uphold them, if only in churches. And yet, when she asks where I come from and what I do for a living, I see her genuine kindness. She’s an optimist. So am I.

Read more about the Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva here. Part of the materials for this article was provided by the Regional Museum of History in Rousse. See below a few more photos of the Church.

The photos in the article are owned by this website.

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