Ruse (or Rousse) sits on the south bank of the Danube, and is the port used by river cruise vessels for bus tours to Bucharest. Often overlooked, the industrial town has a twisting and turning history (it was once under Ottoman rule and part of the Soviet bloc) and serves as a departure point to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What We Love
Freedom Square: The hub of the city, this square brims with cafés and restaurants and is surrounded by notable buildings such as the opera house and courthouse, plus several lovely fountains. Don't miss the centerpiece: the Monument of Liberty, a bronze female figure that's a symbol of Ruse.
Museums: The Rousse Regional Museum of History has an impressive collection of artifacts, including bronze helmets and 19th- and 20th-century porcelain. The National Transport Museum displays a collection of steam engines and railway carriages in what was Bulgaria's first railway station.
Best Known For
Aleksandrovska: Some of the best shops are located on this major pedestrian thoroughfare, which could easily be a transport from Austria with its gorgeous neo-Baroque and neo-Rococo buildings.
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Who It's Best For
Architecture Buffs: Those who can appreciate great architecture will enjoy wandering the compact city center for the gems that date to the 19th and 20th century. Nearby, the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo are built into the side of a mountain.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Language Can Be a Barrier: Street signs and museums labels are written in Cyrillic — which means that much of the town is a complete mystery without a guide.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.