Ruse is a large port city on the Danube River in Northeast Bulgaria and an administrative center of the eponymous municipality and region. Located 75 kilometers from the Romanian capital of Bucharest, the city is a strategic intermodal and logistic center of the country. With a population of 147,817 (according to National Statistical Institute data as of 2013) it is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria. Unemployment in the region of Ruse is 10.7% (as of March 2014), compared with an average unemployment rate of 12.2% in the country.
The proximity of the Danube River has always been important for the city’s development – ever since ancient times. This is the place where the Roman fortified military camp of Sexaginta Prista, meaning “the city of 60 ships”, was established in the 1st century AD. Since the 16th century the city has been known under its Ottoman name of Ruschuk. Under the Ottoman rule, Ruse was one of the major cities of the Ottoman Empire, which influenced its economic and cultural development. Ruse was first in many respects: it is the place where the first railway station in Bulgaria was built, a modern printing house was opened, a newspaper was started. The city was the seat of many consulates too.
After 1878 Ruse was the largest city in the Bulgarian Principality; its economy developed rapidly and that changed the overall look of the city. The connection with Europe that the city provided through the Danube River was beneficial to its development. Due to the beautiful architecture and interior of its buildings designed by Italian, Austrian, German and Bulgarian architects Ruse is called “little Vienna”.
One of the symbols of the city is Dohodno Zdanie (meaning “profitable building”): a beautiful public building in the center of Ruse. It was built in 1901-1902 and impresses with its magnificent façade and seven sculptures on the roof. Other landmarks include the Regional Historical Museum and the Urban Lifestyle Museum, which is also known as Calliope’s House. One of the most interesting landmarks in Ruse is the remains of Sexaginta Prista fortress. Ruse is home to Bulgaria’s only National Transport Museum, which is located in the building of the first railway station in Bulgaria. The beautiful Nature Park of Rusenski Lom is situated 20 kilometers southwest of the city on an area of 3,408 hectares.
The city’s location is particularly advantageous in transportation and geographical terms. Besides being a busy cargo and passenger port, the city is also a border check-point of Bulgaria’s road and railroad connections with the whole of Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe.
The main industrial sectors in Ruse are machine-building and metal processing (40% of the total volume), followed by the chemical, food-and-beverage and textile industries.
Ruse is the biggest Bulgarian port on the Danube in terms of import, export and passenger traffic. It is the seat of Bulgarian River Shipping Company, which services three passenger lines: to Vidin, Svishtov and Silistra. These lines have 19 ports. A big cargo, passenger and tourist flow passes through Druzhba Bridge, which connects Ruse and Giurgiu.