Rousse Regional Museum of History
"All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk". Elias Canetti

Address: 12 “Pridunavski” Blvd.
Contacts: phone: +359 82 820 996

Working time: 9.00 - 12.00, 12.30 - 17.30 h
Days off: Sunday and Monday

The “Obretenov Family” permanent exhibition is opened due to the interest on the side of the citizens of Rousse and the guests of the town towards this notable family from the National Revival period. In 1958 in the house of Nikola Obretenov in Rousse was arranged and opened the “Baba Tonka” Museum, where the visitor could get acquainted with the economical and political life of the Rousse region during the Ottoman period, and a central place is dedicated to the struggle for liberation. In the mind of most of the Bulgarians the name of Grandmother Tonka is associated with the struggle of the Bulgarian National Revival society for spiritual and political liberation. A considerable merit for this is also due to the museum that was bearing her name, which existed up to 1992. Because of the restitution of the house of Nikola Obretenov, the “Zahari Stoyanov” house-museum gave shelter to the exhibition, dedicated to the life course of Tonka Obretenova and her family, as an illustration of the national maturity of the Bulgarian and the role of this family and the citizens of Rousse in the National Liberation struggles. The exhibition is displayed in four halls. One of them is a reproduction of Nikola Obretenov’s study, who is the chronicler of the family and of Rousse in the years before 1878. He wrote his “Memories on the Bulgarian Uprisings”, left a rich correspondence with historians, literary historians, politicians, adherents, thanks to which the picture of the past years can be revived.

The next hall is dedicated to the Obretenov family – it is told of the events that led to the outlining of this family, a special attention is paid to the role of Rakovski for the revolutionary awakening of the citizens of Rousse. The path of each member of Tiho’s family (Tiho Obretenov is the husband of Grandmother Tonka) is stroked, a model of Obretenov’s houses, located on the high riverbank of the Danube, is displayed. The accent also falls on the preserved personal belongings.


Another hall pays a deserved attention to the revolutionary bands as tactics in the struggles for Liberation and to the most prominent supporters: Panayot Hitov, Filip Totyu and mostly Hadzhi Dimitar and Stefan Karadzha. The revolutionary group from the Summer of 1868, led by the last two voyvods is examined thoroughly due to the fact that two of Grandmother Tonka’s sons took participation in it. Peter died and Angel was sentenced to eternal exile. Stefan Karadzha was caught, taken to Rousse and hanged (according to the memories of Obretenov) on the square at the present-day covered market. The revolver saber of Karadzha is also exhibited in this hall.

The fourth hall assigns place for the participation of the Obretenov family in the next stages of the development of the revolutionary movement. Rousse takes its place within the network of committees, when after the initiative of Angel Kanchev, the Rousse Revolutionary Committee is established in the house of Grandmother Tonka. It was headed by her son, Nikola Obretenov and his adherents: Toma Kardzhiev, Ilarion Dragostinov, Georgi Ikonomov, Radi Ivanov, Gancho Karamazhdrakov. After the death of Levski, this committee gradually became of essential significance – for two times it was declared to be a central one for the interior of the country. It is not by accident that the uprising from September 1875 had one of its most strong manifestations in the Rousse region, and the participation of Obretenovi in its preparation is illustrated by a copy of the flag, made by the daughter Petrana. The April Uprising, a zenith of the National Liberation struggles, took some more casualties from the family – the youngest of the sons, Georgi, died in the region of Sliven, and Nikola, who was a revolutionary of Botev, was exiled. This hall also pays attention to the Liberation War. Petrana Obretenova took participation in it as a nurse in the hospital of the Russian army in Svishtov. An accent is the Liberation of Rousse (February 20th, 1878) and the life of Obretenovi after the Liberation.


The “Zahari Stoyanov” Museum House was opened for visitors in March 1978 on occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Liberation of Bulgaria. Zahari Stoyanov is closely related with the Obretenov family. The spiritual maturity of Dzhendo in Rouschouk, his favourable friendship with Nikola Obretenov, were determinable for the subsequent life of the studious man from Medven. Considering Rousse to be his second birthplace, after the Liberation Zahari Stoyanov settled here for the second time – in 1878/1882. On January 31st, 1882, he married for Grandmother Tonka’s youngest child – Anastasia. In 1883 his book about Vasil Levski was published, written with great love and admiration for the Apostle. A year later was published the first volume of his greatest work – “Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings”. After that followed “The Revolutionary Bands in Bulgaria…” and a book for the life and activities of Lyuben Karavelov.

With a fervid speech and bright publicism, Zahari Stoyanov inflamed and prepared the public opinion in Eastern Rumelia for the upcoming Unification of the region with the Principality of Bulgaria – September 6th, 1885. After this date, Zahari Stoyanov settled in Rousse for the third time. In the spring of 1886 he became candidate for a member of the parliament. Deputy at the 4th National Assembly, he was elected for deputy-chairman, and subsequently for Chairman of the National Assembly.

Zahari Stoyanov’s life course ended much too early – at the age of 39, on September 2nd, 1889, at the Parisian hotel “Suez”. His mortal remains were received and buried in Rousse, in a vault constructed for this purpose. His bones were transferred inside the Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes.
Only one daughter remained alive from the marriage of Zahari Stoyanov and Anastasia Oberetenova – Zaharinka, bearing the name of her father. She granted the house, built in 1898-1899, for a museum.


Reneta Roshkeva