Rousse

Battenberg Palace

Rousse (Bulgarian: Русе) is a city on the south bank of the Danube river, in North Bulgaria.

Understand

Present-day Rousse is the fifth largest Bulgarian city and is an important economic, financial and cultural hub.

Get in

Catholic Eparchy building

Rousse is located on the South bank of the Danube, across from the Romanian city of Giurgiu. By road, the city is about 200 km from Varna and 300 km from Sofia. From Romania, a bridge connects Ruse to Giurgiu, serving as the westernmost land connection between the two countries (although ferries operate between other cities, and a new bridge is under construction at Vidin). If you intend to cross the border from Giurgiu, an 6 € (~12 Bulgarian Leva, ~24 Romanian Lei) crossing tax applies each way.

The closest international airport is 75 km north, in Bucharest, in neighboring Romania - a shuttle bus connects the airport to the city once a day. Alternative airports are Sofia and Varna.

The city is well served by railroads, with multiple connections to Sofia and Varna, but also to Bucharest (2x daily, but note that the train is rather expensive - 25 €, and very slow, taking about 3 hours for the journey), Budapest, Kyiv, Moscow, Athens and Istanbul. The train station is at the southern end of Borisova Avenue, south of the city centre.

Buses also link Rousse to the rest of Bulgaria (different frequencies daily), places in Greece (daily) and to Giurgiu (twice daily) and Bucharest (twice daily at 12h30 and 15h30, takes 1hour and 30min and costs 20lev, drop at Piața Unirii). The bus station is located next to the train station.

Danube cruises generally stop at Rousse harbour.

It is also possible to cross the border without paying the tax by walking the crossing.(See the DO section)

See

Street

Do

The rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo

In order to get there you can take a train to Ivanovo(2 lev each way) from the main train station in Ruse, it will take 25 min, then walk to the north part of the town and turn right when you see the sign about the Ivanovo Cave Monasteries. There is a 6 km walk but you can hitchhike any of the continuous cars that goes on purpose to see the caves on that road. It costs 4 lev to enter the Cave-Church.

The caves in the region had been inhabited by monks from the 1220s, when it was founded by the future Patriarch of Bulgaria Joachim, to the 17th century, where they hewed cells, churches and chapels out of solid rock. At the peak of the monastery complex, the number of churches was about 40, while the other premises were around 300, most of which are not preserved today.

Second Bulgarian Empire rulers such as Ivan Alexander and Ivan Asen II frequently made donations to the complex, as evidenced by donor portraits in some of the churches. Other patrons included nobles from the capital Tarnovo and nearest big medieval town Cherven, with which the monastery complex had strong ties in the 13-th and 14-th century. It was a centre of hesychasm in the Bulgarian lands in the 14th century and continued to exist in the early centuries of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, but gradually decayed.

The monastery complex owes much of its fame to 13th- and 14th-century frescoes, preserved in 5 of the churches, which are thought of as wonderful examples of Bulgarian mediaeval art. The rock premises used by the monks include the St Archangel Michael Chapel ("The Buried Church"), the Baptistery, the Gospodev Dol Chapel, the St Theodore Church ("The Demolished Church") and the main Church, with the 14th-century murals in the latter one being arguably the most famous of all in Ivanovo and noted as some of the most representative examples of Palaeologan art. Many century-old inscriptions have also been preserved in the monastical premises, including the famous indented inscription of the monk Ivo Gramatik from 1308–1309.

The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, February 12, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.