Rousse Regional Museum of History
"All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk". Elias Canetti
Guide to the Routes of Cultural Heritage

Contents

The Urban Memory for the Local Community. Holy Trinity Church – The Square of Liberty – The House of Kaliopa.
The Ruins. Sexaginta Prista – Kyuntu Kapu – Leventa – The Medieval town of Cherven.
The Stone of Faith. Holy Trinity Church – The “Saint Dimitar” Monastery of Basarbovo – The Church at the Village of Krasen – Ivanovo Rock-hewn Churches.
Living Water. Rousse, the holy spring at the Tekke, Lipnik Park, the holy spring of Saint Marina at the village of Syanovo, Tutrakan region; the holy spring of Saint Marina at the village of Karan Varbovka, water-supply facilities in Cherven, healing water at the Slepcha fountain near the village of Ivanovo.
The Heroes of Freedom. The Pantheon of National Revival Heroes, the tomb of Zahari Stoyanov, the monument of Stefan Karadzha, the monument of Grandmother Tonka, the “Zahari Stoyanov” House Museum, the Monument of Liberty.
The World of the Dead. Rousse – Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes, the Military Cemetery at Tutrakan, the Thracian tombs at Sboryanovo – Demir baba tekke.
Eco-path. Along the Danube and the Rousse Lom river.

1.The Urban Memory for the Local Community. The Holy Trinity Church – The Square of Liberty – The House of Kaliopa

The route offers a walk through the central area of the town and a lecture for the formation of the Rousse urban community with accents from the period of the 19th and the 20th century. The story starts from the Church of the Holy Trinity, which has preserved the spiritual life of the Bulgarians through the centuries.
The church society has represented the Bulgarian ethnic community up to the end of the 70s of the 19th century. The Square of Liberty has gathered a number of signs for the public life of the citizens of Rousse, and the “Urban Lifestyle of Rousse from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century” museum exhibition, located at the House of Kaliopa, illustrates the changes of adjustments of the citizens, who have lived through the previous two centuries.
Starting point: the “Holy Trinity” Cathedral. Transportation is not needed. No age restrictions.
Guide: +359 82 825002, order required.

The “Holy Trinity” Church. This is the oldest church in Rousse, built in 1632. It is dug into the ground three-nave pseudo-basilica with size of 15.60 x 31.20 m.
The graves of the four Archbishops of the Dorostol-Cherven Eparchy are located in the antechamber. To the left and right of the stairs of the cathedral there are two interesting inscriptions. The first one is the tombstone of Father Danail, who has been a teacher in the local church school for many years. During the reconstruction of the church in 1764 his grateful pupils built his tombstone in the church’s wall. The inscription to the right of the stairs is carved into a granite plate and gives information for the reconstruction of the church in 1764.
The bell tower has a height of 19 m. It is hexagonal and is made of stones from the destroyed fortification wall of Rouschouk. It has five bells.
The old Christian cemetery of the town was located around the “Holy Trinity” Church. Several tombstones are preserved – one of them is incorporated into the sidewalk next to the bell tower. Immediately next to the tower there are two tombstones, related to the Crimean War. They are of English officers, who died during the ousting of the Russian troops away from Giurgiu. Since the English fought in the side of the Ottomans, after the Liberation such tombstones were forgotten and most likely these in Rousse are the only to be preserved in our country.

The central square is an appropriate place for tourist visits. There are three parking lots which are assuring the access to the site, a number of cafes and shops, a garden with benches and fountains. The square is one of the few in Europe to gather twelve streets. In the past this was the site of the Turkish cemetery. The landscape designers Richard Neuvirt and Ferdinand Holober gave the citizens a garden never to be seen up to this moment – with palm-trees, cacti, banana bushes, Japanese apples and other exotic plants. A stone fence was erected, which was later removed during the reconstruction in the 1930s and placed around the “Father Paisius” Primary School. The Monument to Liberty is located in the center of the square and the Profitable House is on the right. In front of the monument, behind the garden with the cafes, is still standing the house, where the first cinema projection in Bulgaria took place. The old citizens of Rousse still remember the “Olympia” summer cinema on the site of the present-day Post Office, and on the site of the Court – a circus.
The Monument of Liberty – erected with the donations of the citizens of Rousse after the initiative of the Veteran-volunteer’s Association in 1909. The authors are the architects Simeon Zlatev and Stoycho Kiryazov. The statue and the bas-reliefs are the work of the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi.
The Profitable Building – built in 1901 by the plan of the Viennese architect Paul Brank, and implemented by Georg Lang, Frank Scholtz, Gatyu Tsonev and P. Atanasov. The building had to bring profit to the Municipality, shops were opened, as well as a casino. In the building housed the theater, the library, the art gallery.
To the right of the Court is located the building of the former bank of “Girdap” – the first private bank in Bulgaria, established after the Liberation. On the site of the round fountain there has been a bus stop, which everyone called the Glass Kiosk. The bus stop has taken a lasting place in the memories of the people of Rousse, because it used to be one of the favourite meeting places. To the left of the Monument, at the end of the Largo is visible the Rousse Opera, coloured in tile-red. Next to it are located the Church of the Holy Trinity and the Cherven Archbishopric.
From the square you can see the Central Railway Station, the TV tower and the Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes. The latter is built in the Park of the National Revival Heroes – the former cemetery of Rousse, where the remains of a number of prominent national heroes used to be interred. The Pantheon is a national vault-monument.
Working time: 09.00-12.00; 12.30-17.30h, contacts: +359 82 820 998.

The route ends with a visit at the Museum of Urban Lifestyle from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, or like it is popular among the people – the House of Kaliopa. The house, according to the rumors, was a gift to the beautiful Kaliopa by Midhat Pasha who fell in love with her. The exhibition presents Rousse as the gate for Europe for the Bulgarians, it displays the introduction of the European urban culture at home and unfolds exemplary interiors of a guest room, living room, music saloon and a bedroom with furniture from Vienna. Collections of silver utensils and porcelain are shown, which are marking the changes that have emerged in the everyday life of people.

Working time: 09.00-12.00; 12.30-17.30h, Contacts: +359 82 820 997.

2. The Ruins of Sexaginta Prista, Kyuntu Kapu, Leventa, the Medieval town of Cherven.

The route is appropriate for history lovers. It offers a tour among the most important fortification facilities in the vicinity. The first site is the Roman fort of Sexaginta Prista – evidence for the 19-century-old history of Rousse. The important place of the fort of Rousse is proved by the strong Ottoman fortress of Rouschouk, of which have remained the Gate of Kyuntu Kapu and the fort of Leventa. The Old Bulgarian tradition at the construction of fortresses is illustrated by the visit at the Medieval town of Cherven archaeological reserve.
Starting point: the square at the Sailor’s Monument next to the Military Club. Transportation is necessary, going and return – around 70 km. No age restrictions. Guide: +359 82 825 002, after an order.

The Sailor’s Monument symbolizes the connection between the old Roman port at the Danube river and the established Danube Fleet – the first fleet in Bulgaria after the Liberation.
Sexaginta Prista – a Roman fort-predecessor of the contemporary town; a fortress, part of the defense system along the Danube and an important port for the fleet. The name meant “Port of the sixty ships of the pristis type”. From a stone inscription is known that the fort was established during the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69-79 AD). In the 6th-7th century, during the numerous invasions of Slavs and Bulgars the town was plundered and destroyed. Over the remains emerged a Slavic settlement and a Medieval Bulgarian fortress.
Working time: 09.00-12.00; 12.30-17.30h. Days off – Sunday and Monday.
Contacts: +359 82 825 002

According to the terms of the Berlin Peace Treaty of 1878 all of the fortifications in the Principality of Bulgaria had to be destroyed. Only Kuyntu Kapu and its iron-bind gate remained out of the Fortress of Rouschouk. The specialists consider that this was the outlook of the Medieval Bulgarian fortification gates. The Kuyntu Kapu Gate (literary – the gate with the pipe) can be seen when leaving Rousse at the bridge, called by the citizens “the Snail”. This is one of the gates of the Ottoman fortress of Rouschouk, where a pipe (“kuynt”) passed through – part of the water-supply system of the town. This water-pipe supplied the fountain in the yard of the “Saint George’s School” (nowadays “Angel Kanchev”) – the only preserved fountain of Rousse from the 18th century.
Approximately next to the gate is located the “Saint Petka - Paraskeva” temple. This is the newest temple built in Rousse, and the determination of the patron implements continuity with the past. The last rock-hewn church in the Rousse Lom river valley – “Saint Petka”, was buried after the Liberation. The present-day temple of “Saint Petka” (architect S. Bobchev) is interesting with its architectural plan, which repeats the famous “Golden” or “Round” church in Preslav, built by Tsar Simeon the Great.

The fort of Leventa. A stone fortification (a fort) from the Ottoman fortress of Rouschouk from the 19th century. It can house a garrison of 3000 men, and it is fit for independent defense. A warehouse for weaponry and munitions of the Danube Fleet. From this point the guns were able to shoot as far as the Romanian shore, but were actually serving to defend the town from the south. The fortification facility has been transformed into a restaurant with different halls – in the style of all of the Danube countries. In proximity is located the highest TV tower in the Balkan Peninsula – 201 m. At the 101th meter is located a café with Bucharest visible in a clear weather.

The “Medieval town of Cherven” Archaeological Reserve. It is the most significant Bulgarian Medieval town in Northeastern Bulgaria in the 14th century. In the town of Cherven there was an aristocrat (boyar) and an archbishop, the crafts and trade were highly developed. The remains of the unfortified Outer town and the massive walls of the Inner town are well visible. Distinguishable sites are the Boyar’s Castle in the center, the Archbishop’s Church, water sterns. Along the main street are visible the remains of the once densely built houses – with shops on the first floor and residential areas on the second. The town has 13 churches, a large number of monasteries are located in the vicinity. The most impressive site is the guard tower – 12 meters high, on several levels. The so-called Baldwin’s Tower at Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo has been restored after this example. Two water-supply facilities have been discovered at Cherven. The one on the southern side of the fortress is accessible for tourists, down next to the river, where stone stairs in a tunnel leads to an underground spring. From that spring the people were supplying the town with water in times of unrest and long sieges.
After the Ottoman invasion in 1388 Cherven gradually declined, as the town lost its strategic military location.
Working time: 09.00-18.00h, contacts: +359 82 825 002.

3. The Stone of Faith.

The Church of the Holy Trinity – The Basarbovo Monastery – the Church at the village of Krasen – Ivanovo Rock-hewn Churches.

 
The route presents one of the most precious monuments of the cultural heritage in the region. Icons from the region (17th-19th century) in a small collection can be seen in the Church of the Holy Trinity. The Ivanovo Rock-hewn churches are part of the World Cultural Heritage and are listed by UNESCO. The route is comfortable for various forms of religious tourism.
Starting point: the Church of the Holy Trinity. Transportation is necessary, going and return – around 60 km. No age restrictions.
Guide: +359 82 825 002, after an order and assured transport.

The Monastery of Saint Dimitar Basarbovski near the village of Basarbovo I located 12 km away from the town of Rousse. According to the legend, the village received its name after Ivanko Basarba – father-in-law of Tsar Ivan Alexander. He owned lands in the region, and thus he granted finance for a rock-hewn monastery, and the village emerged around it.
According to the legend Dimitar was an ordinary shepherd. One day, while he was grazing the herd, he stepped over a bird nest. This was considered to be a great sin and in order for him to redeem it, Dimitar became a monk and he lived alone and piously till the end of his days. After he died, the water came and took his body into the river. When the local people took out his remains, wonders began to happen – Saint Dimitar healed and protected the village from hailstorms. Once, aristocrats from Wallachia came and decided to take the relics with them, but the saint gave them undisputable sign – first, their car broke off, and then the chest with the relics rolled down on the riverbank terrace. On the first spot the villagers placed a large stone – it became the site of the local cemetery, and on the second they erected the village church. There is monument to the soldiers of the wars from the village.
The monastery is located 2 km to the east of the village. Here, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1769 General Saltikov took the relics and left them in Bucharest after a plea from the local Bulgarian community. They are kept at the Patriarch’s Cathedral of “Saint Constantine and Saint Helen” in the Romanian capital. During the First World War, when Bucharest was occupied by Bulgarian and German forces, several Bulgarian soldiers from the villages around Rousse tried to bring the relics back to Bulgarian soil, but were caught and the attempt fell through.
In the 19th century the monastery was abandoned, but in 1937 the monk Hrisant restored it. The church, which is located high within the rock cliff, has a wooden iconostasis from a more recent time, but its configuration and that of the surrounding cells are giving us a notion for the rock-hewn monasteries from older times. Along a path, which leads to the bottom of the monastery yard, you can reach the stairs, cut into the rock, and from that point to the other wing of the monastery – traces of cells are visible, as well as a grave, cut into the rock. According to the specialists this was the site where the remains of Saint Dimitar were once placed.
Contacts: +359 82 800 765

The church at the village of Krasen. The village of Krasen exists from the establishment of Bulgaria, in the surrounding vicinity is located the ruins of the Krasen fortress, with a grave of a warrior in full armour from the First Bulgarian Kingdom discovered underneath it, and in the surrounding area are discovered the stone basins – altars. During the reign of Tsar Ivan Asen II the future patriarch Yoakim I made a monastic cell in the rock above Krasen, and later on, with the support of the Tsar, he established the “St. Archangel Michael” Rock-hewn Monastery near the village of Ivanovo.
The village church of Krasen is one of the few to remain since its construction in the 17th century. Almost all of the churches in the villages of the Rousse Lom river valley were erected in the 19th century. It is one-nave, one-apse, made of stone, which was used before that for tombstones. According to the local legends, God constructed the Heaven Monastery out of human souls, thus they’ve made the Home of God on earth out of tombstones. The soft Rousse limestone is easily processed – during the centuries in the village of Krasen a stonemasons’ school developed, who were selling stones and tombstones in whole Northern Bulgaria – from the river Iskar, to the region of Dobrudzha. A number of inscriptions and drawings-graffiti are visible on the exterior walls of the church. Some of them have preserved the historical memory of the village – inscriptions of priests and teachers, one of whom – Nikola from the town of Elena, made a copy of the “Slavonic-Bulgarian History” of Paisius of Hilendar.

The Rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo. The rock churches are located in the Rousse Lom river valley, near the old village of Ivanovo. They have the status of an archaeological reserve and are listed by UNESCO. All of the churches are united by the monastery of “St. Archangel Michael”.
High in the cliffs, at 40-50 m above the ground, the natural niches and caves were enlarged by the monks and transformed into churches and cells. The living conditions were harsh – overcoming the connection with the earthly and everyday life issues strengthened the connection to God.
The historical sources are proving the presence of essential figures from the history of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom around the monasteries. Distinguishable among them are Patriarch Yoakim I and Tsar George I Terter. Some researchers discover the name of the Tsar in the inscriptions over the cliffs and are directing to the place of his grave. It is presumed that Tsar George I Terter, who succeeded the rural Tsar Ivaylo, became a monk here and led a pious life in the monasteries of the Rousse Lom river valley.
The best preserved frescoes are located in the Church of Virgin Mary. On its northwestern side are drawn in full scale the donors Tsar Ivan Alexander and his wife, Queen Theodora. The images on the walls are almost entirely erased, only those on the ceiling have been preserved. There are 25 fields there, with events from the New Testament depicted, which are displaying the last days of the life of Jesus Christ. The frescoes are very realistic and close life.
Working time: 09.00-18.00h.

4. Living water.


Rousse, the holy spring at the Tekke, the Park of Lipnik, the holy spring of Saint Marina at the village of Syanovo, Tutrakan region; the holy spring of Saint Marina at the village of Karan Varbovka, the healing water from the Slepcha fountain near the village of Ivanovo.

The route is appropriate for the fans of history and the miracles, related to the use of healing water. It introduces specific places from the local history, which are not always popular for many people.
Starting point: the Church of the Holy Trinity. Transportation is necessary.
Guide: +359 82 825 002, after an order and assured transportation.

Lipnik Park – a suburban park for relaxation and entertainment. There is a lake for fishery and walks with boats, zoo, restaurants. A favourite picnic site for generations of Rousse citizens. On the Day of St. Elijah (August 2nd) a large holiday is conducted, the fair of the village of Nikolovo, known in the past as a fair at the Tekke. In proximity to the former tekke (monastery) there was a healing spring. Its waters are nowadays filling a small basin, where the loving couples are throwing coins.

The monastery of Saint Marina at the village of Syanovo, Tutrakan region. It is located around 50 km to the east of Rousse. In the center of the village of Nova Cherna along the route to Tutrakan, to the right there is a turn for the village of Syanovo. To the west of the village, with a lot of asking among the local people, you can reach the Paskalya area, where of July 17th, the Day of Saint Marina, gathering worshipers and votive offering are prepared and granted for health. The monastery emerged by a miracle together with the appearance of the healing water, and it is worshiped by the people from the local villages. In the period of socialism the monastery declined and the holy spring was out of use. For a decade the monastery has been restored, healing water is drawn from three places and the stories about healed people are increasing – from stiffening, rheumatism, from whammy and misused magic. Large part of the stories is folklore varieties of those from the monastery at Karan Varbovka.
The monastery of Saint Marina at the village of Karan Varbovka is the most famous monastery with holy spring, devoted to this saint in Eastern Bulgaria. It is located 50 km to the south of Rousse. According to the legend, the monastery was established during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and existed up to the arrival of the Ottomans. However, the name of Saint Marina was not lost in the memory of the local population.
According to the legend the blind child of a Turkish man was washed with water on the day of Saint Marina (July 17th) and his sight was recovered. Expressing his gratitude the Turk granted the filed with the holy spring to the Christians with the instructions when ill people are arriving to receive a place to stay.
The present church is built in 1890. The holy spring, located in the middle of the monastery church, is shaped like a well, with stone stairs, fenced with iron parapet with the shape of an octagon, with three doors. In 1984 the water is taken out in the monastery yard and is driven into 4 decorative spouts. There is also a cistern for the water, with a bell tower build over it.
The water under the patronage of Saint Marina heals sore eyes, sterility, stiffening, whammy. In terms of chemical composition, the water is poorly mineralized, suitable for everyday use. It is sold in bottles like every mineral water in the country.

The “Slepcha” fountain.  On the way back from the village of Karan Varbovka you can stop for a while at the “Slepcha” fountain near the village of Ivanovo. On the northern exit of the village is the railway crossing to Rousse-Sofia road – after the crossing you turn right and on a black road 50 km away is the fountain. Nowadays its appearance is not quite well but the local people believe its water has a cure effect. Same as the water from Karan Varbovka it helps against sore eyes – that is why the name of the fountain is called “Slepcha”.

5. The Heroes of Freedom

Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes, the Tomb of Zahari Stoyanov, Monument of Stefan Karadzha, Monument of Grandmother Tonka, “Zahari Stoyanov” Museum House, Monument of Liberty.

The route is appropriate for students, suitable for illustrating studied materials in the courses of history and literature. It introduces places of memory from the national and local history, it reminds of interesting facts, broadens the horizon of knowledge.
Starting point: Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes. No transportation is necessary. The route can be implemented without the assistance of a guide, while using the ones from the museum sites.
Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes – contacts: +359 82 820 998; “Zahari Stoyanov” Museum House – contacts: +359 82 820 996. Working time: 09.00-12.00; 12.30-17.30h.

The Pantheon the National Revival Heroes is a national vault-monument. Here are buried a large number of the most prominent Bulgarians from the National Revival period. A total of 453 people are honored – participants in the revolutionary bands of Hristo Botev, of Chervena voda, in the April Uprising, volunteers in the Russo-Turkish War. It is opened on February 28th, 1978, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Liberation of Bulgaria. In 2001 a chapel was opened inside the Pantheon, together with a museum exhibition.

Behind the Pantheon is still standing the Tomb of Zahari Stoyanov, part of the former cemetery of Rousse. Here, on September 20th, 1893, was buried this prominent Bulgarian, who died in Paris 18 days earlier while leading a delegation as a Head of the Bulgarian Parliament. To the left of the Tomb is the monument of Ivan Vedar – the man who saved the residents of Rousse during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878). The urban legends say that after the Russian bombardments, when there were impacts only over the Turkish houses and over the military facilities, the young men from Rousse boasted at the cafes that they were directing the Russian artillery with secret signs. This infuriated the Turkish commanders and the whole of the Bulgarian population of the town – around 6000 people, were gathered at the Bishop’s Garden (the present-day Park of Youth), where they were to be slaughtered. Ivan Vedar – the first Bulgarian freemason, managed to safe the people of Rousse, because he discovered that he and one of the Turkish officers – Delaver Pasha, were “brothers” freemasons.

The route continues with a visit at the Monument of Stefan Karadzha, built on the site where he was hanged by the Ottoman authorities. The next site is the monument of the legendary Grandmother Tonka, in proximity to the “Baba Tonka” House Museum (under reconstruction) and the “Zahari Stoyanov” House Museum. Here is in display an exhibition for the life and work of the annalist of the April Uprising and an exhibition for the Obretenov family – the family of Grandmother Tonka, and the Bulgarian National Revival period.

The route ends thematically with a visit at the Monument of Liberty, devoted to the heroes, who constructed Modern Bulgaria with their actions.

6. The World of the Dead

Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes in Rousse, the Military Cemetery at the town of Tutrakan, the Thracian Tombs at Sboryanovo – Demir Baba tekke.

The route offers various forms of burial facilities, it offers introduction to various in terms of ethnicity and religion traditions, related to the topic for the Outer World and the render of homage to the ancestors. No age restrictions.
Starting point: Rousse, Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes. Transportation is required. Going and return – 180 km. There are direction signs along the route and the sites can easily be discovered.
Guide: for the Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes: +359 82 820 998; for the Military Cemetery: +359 857 5235; for the Sboryanovo cult complex: +359 835 4783.

Pantheon of the National Revival Heroes – national vault-monument. Here are buried the remains of Lyuben Karavelov, Zahari Stoyanov, Stefan Karadzha, Panayot Hitov, Grandmother Tonka, Nikola Obretenov, Panayot Volov, etc. Authors: Architect Nikola Nikolov and collective, sculptor – Nikola Terziev.

The Military Cemetery at the town of Tutrakan – it is located near the village of Shumentsi. The place marks the memory and honor to the fallen in the largest battle of the Bulgarian army during the First World War. Tutrakan was transformed by French and Romanian military engineers into an inapproachable fortress – pitfalls, wire entanglements, batteries and machine-gun positions, military fleet with artillery on the Danube. For only two days (September 5th-6th, 1916) under the command of General P. Kiselov, the Bulgarian and German forces crushed the resistance, took over the town and captured 450 officers and 28 000 soldiers with their equipment.
The cemetery is well maintained, many of the stones with inscriptions have been renovated, two cannons from the time of the war are standing as witnesses. In small chapel a candle could be lighted for the fallen predecessors.
Around 8000 have died in total from both sides. A deserved honor is paid every year on the forst Sunday of September since 1941. The decedents have written on a stone: “Honour and Glory to the ones, who knew how to die heroically for their Fatherland”.

Thracian tombs at the village of Sboryanovo. Three tombs are accessible for visits. One of them is a monument, listed by UNESCO. It is located inside Ginina mound, discovered in 1982, and is accessible since 2000. It was constructed in the 3rd century BC. The tomb has plastic decoration, sculptor figures, and fresco of a horseman – probably the ruler, buried inside. The other two tombs are smaller and more poorly decorated. One of them has been closing using a slide door.

In proximity, along the road to the tekke of Demir baba, is located a Thracian town – a presumptive capital of the Kingdom of the Getae. The archaeologists have revealed part of the fortification system, walls and a gate with towers.
 
Demir baba tekke – monastery and tomb of the Alevi saint Demir Baba. According to the researchers the building has been constructed in the 16th century. It is erected on the site of a Thracian sanctuary. There is a healing spring, stone beds, where the ill are receiving curing, a stone where the women are daggering their kerchiefs against headache, a healing oak, whose bark is used against sterility. On Saint George’s Day – May 6th, on May 18th, on Saint Elijah’s Day and the Day of Saint Demetrius, the place is full of worshipers; votive offerings are made for good health. The site is visited both by Muslims and Christians.

7. Eco routes along the Danube and the Rousse Lom river.

The routes are offering walks around ecologically clear areas, among rich in natural and historical sites zones. Almost all of them are a temptation for the fans of the birds, a tour with a boat is offered, fishery. Along some of the routes there is no need for a guide. Transportation is necessary for reaching the beginning of the eco paths, continuing by foot afterwards. Age restrictions could be imposed considering the risk during some of the tours.

Eco routes along the Danube river.  

. The Western park of “Prista”.
Starting point: Rousse – Prista cottage, going and return – 10 km.

The park is located on the riverbank of the Danube, where fishery can be practiced, there are playgrounds for football and volleyball, tracking paths, a beach. The terrain is amphitheatrically shaped – in the winter there are a lot of citizens from Rousse coming for skating, and in June here takes place the regional festival, called “The Golden Fiddle”.
The “Prista” cottage is located near the road for Sofia, at a height from where the Danube and Romania are visible. It is build in 1941-1944. On March 24th, 1975, is opened the present-day building, and the old one was demolished. It has 32 rooms and 3 apartments, restaurant and a museum collection with materials from the tourist movement. It is maintained by the “Prista” Tourist Association.
There is a direction signboard for a tour to the “Alpinist” cottage, located in the picturesque canyon of the Rousse Lom river, near the Monastery of Basarbovo.

B. Stalpishte.
Starting point: Rousse – the village of Mechka – the Stalpishte area. Going and return – 30 km.

The area of Stalpishte is located on the riverbank of the Danube and it bears its name from the Pillars – upright stones, larger and lesser one, thrown there by Krali (King) Marko and his sister. Long ago here was the site of an Old Bulgarian cult center and an observatory, a reminiscence of which is the name of Mechka (a bear) and in the stone models of the constellations Larger Bear (Ursa Major) and Smaller Bear (Ursa Minor).
In proximity are located the fish tanks, which are sheltering bird colonies. The place is a stop along the “Via Pontica” migration route. You should arm with a binocular and reach the fish tanks – if you would like to, you can try counting the birds. How is this done? You have to divide in your thought the total quantity into smaller equal in size sectors, and then you are counting the birds in one of these sectors and multiply it by the number of sectors. Good luck!
There is a beach. In the days off people with tents are coming here, some of them are trying to catch a fish. In the area there is a restaurant with a pool.

C. Fishery routes.
Starting point: the town of Tutrakan – the village of Pozharevo – the Malak Kosui island. From Rousse to Tutrakan and return is around 120 km.

From Tutrakan for two hours along the riverbank by the marks and signboards you can walk through the eco path through the areas of Kalevach, Zastava, Dalboki dol, Sariyar. The islands of Pozharevo are a natural sight – here you can observe a colony of herons. There is an opportunity for a tour with a boat, fishery. For the awkward we recommend the fish market in Tutrakan, which is located near the distillery for rakiya.
Interesting places – “Fishers’ Neighbourhood” Archiecture reserve, the Museum of Fishery, a boat stand. The “Danube Fishery and Boat-construction” Museum is located in the center of the town of Tutrakan; it is opened in 1974 and is one of its kind along the whole course of the Danube. It puts in display the material culture of the Bulgarians from the settlements along the river, as well as tools for fishery – from the Ancient times until the present day.  
Local landmarks – the “Saint Nicholas” church, “Theodor’s House”, the exhibitions of the Museum of History, Softa Baba tekke.
Contacts: Tutrakan Tourist Info Center – Tutrakan, 20 Transmarisca Str., phone: +359 866 60 352.
The Museum of History offers hotel rooms in a fishers’ house - +359 866 61 235.

Eco paths along the Rousse Lom river.

. The Kingdom of Birds – Pisanets and Nisovo.

The village of Pisanets is located 30 km to the southeast of the town of Rousse, near the road from Rousse to Razgrad, along the Beli Lom river. Around the village there are Old Bulgarian ruins over two hills, which have played a strategic role in the region during the 13th-14th century. In this period the fortress has been equal in significance with the Medieval town of Cherven. Pisanets, together with Cherven, was the regional center for the old Bulgarian metallurgy industry.
Over the Drakata neighbourhood you can see one of the two steps of Krali Marko. Along the river valley of Beli Lom there is a large number of rock niches and caves, some of which have been used for churches and monasteries. In one of them is marked the name of Ispor – this is how the local people pronounced the name of Khan Asparukh.
Since it has been inhabited without interruption for millennia, the settlement presumes the preservation of rituals, toponymy, beliefs. Interesting for visits are the “The Pierced Stone”, which is located on the edge of the cliff at the end of the Mogilite forest, 2km to the southeast of the village. Underneath is located the river and the Kamberitsa area, and on the opposite side, around 50 m in straight direction is the Kazan rock. The Pierced Stone is a round vertical opening, carved into the rock, with a regular shape and a diameter of 1 m, at a depth of 142 m from the ground level. According to the researchers, the stone has been a cult object from the time of Bulgarian paganism. Interesting for visits are also the vertical stone of Mamula close to the fish tanks, the Large cave, etc. The road from Pisanets to Nisovo is around 20 km and it offers terrific views and meetings with rare birds, but it is not for everybody. The Mayor’s Office is maintaining a house, called by everyone the White House. There you can stay for the night and to receive food. A good idea is to call in advance: +359 8164 325.

The village of Nisovo is located 20 km to the south of Rousse, on the Beli Lom river. From here you can walk along a number of shorter or longer routes – along the Beli Lom river or against the stream of Beli Lom and Mali Lom.
At a distance of an hour is located the Larger Nisovo Monastery, and at the same distance is the centuries-old elm-tree. In the beginning the route is marked with signboards, but later on you can get lost. In proximity to the elm-tree centuries ago was located the village of Galitsa. Its residents were tying swings on its branches on Saint George’s Day, and they were making a sacrifice. The elm-tree is 700 years old and has seen the larger part of Bulgarian history. This is why the local people are calling it the Tree of Wishes – they are setting their backs against it, they are making three wishes, then they are writing them down on pieces of paper, and afterwards they are throwing the paper into the waters of the Lom river. Considering which of the pieces will go first, this is the wish that will come true.
The Monument of Saint Trifon is located on the Mound, down at the river, and under the village is located the Horses’ cemetery with fine examples of tombstones from 300 years ago. They have anthropomorphous outlook – they resemble human individuals, without having inscriptions on them, but the male ones are distinguishable, because they resemble crosses, from the females, which are ending with a round shape at the top. They say that plague drove away the old village, and thus only the graves remained.
It is said that Father Martin has also passed through these lands – a famous haiduk, who was robbing the Turkish treasury and afterwards was hiding the money at the Mandilka area. This is the reason for the large number of treasure-hunters touring around the Rousse Lom river valley, but their actions are against the law.
According to the specialists and the fans of birds in this region can be seen a number of feathered examples, which are rare for the other parts of the country – the Golden eagle, the Egyptian vulture, the Ruddy shelduck, the Black stork.

B. The canyon between Cherven and Koshov.

The route offers a meeting with the near vicinity, which implements a different memory in comparison to the visit at the Medieval town of Cherven. The distance between the two villages is not large – 8 km. When you leave Cherven behind your back, you are entering the picturesque area of Chuchana, where there is a wild spring, and the only preserved water-mill in this part of the river. After that the view falls upon the row of Medieval monasteries, some of which have existed up to 200 years ago – the Larger Heaven monastery, the Lesser Heaven monastery, the Koshuta (Roe) monastery. The latter is associated with the legend for the emergence of the name of Koshov. In the folklore beliefs, the roe is a symbol of the Mother of God – the Koshuta monastery has probably had Virgin Mary as its patron. Here the friends of the birds can also meet some rare kinds. In these lands since time immemorial Human and Nature have lived in equilibrium – in the cultural heritage zone of Ivanovo-Cherven fire and littering are prohibited.

C. The caves at Tabachka.

The village of Tabachka is located at 30 km to the south of Rousse, a branch at the road to Cherven leads to the picturesque canyon of the Cherni Lom river, where a number of caves are narrating the local history.
The Church – a rock-hewn church from the time of the Bulgarian Middle Ages, cut into the rock at 30 m above the river terrace. It is located on the opposite side of the bridge in the beginning of the village. A path leads to the stone stairs, and afterwards it continues closely to the cliffs. Three sections are distinguishable at the Church – an antechamber, church and a grave cell. On the floor are visible graves, cut into the rock, which were once covered with stone tablets. There are openings for wooden beams, which have supported the exterior wooden wall.
The Basarbovska cave – the researcher Karel Skorpil writes at the end of the 19th century that shepherds from the village of Basarbovo closed their sheep there once, when the winter was so long and cold that all of the sheep died. Masters-tanners (“tabatsi”) came here from Rousse and processed the leather, thus giving the name of the new village. The older people of the village remember that there were frescoes on the walls of that cave, apparently this has been a church, but nothing is preserved. According to the researches Tabachka bears its name from a settlement near the town of Plachkovtsi with the same name, which is where the settlers came from.
Vodna cave is located on the left riverbank of the Cherni Lom river, to the east of Tabachka. On its walls there are Latin and Greek inscriptions. It is presumed that these are the names of the visitors of the healing spring, known here in Antiquity, and some of them have even described the quantity of denarii, left as a gift. In the middle of the cave there is a small basin, cut into the rock, where the healing water was gathered. Only a small portion is to be drunken, the eyes are washed and some of them were even saying a prayer. The healing place was known in the Middle Ages and up to nowadays.
In proximity there was a sign for a treasure – a Boot. Underneath it, some time ago, a boot was found, full of gold coins.
The Draganka cave is located in the Lyulyach area, a lilac forest. The path starts from around the school, passing around the Puddle, through the forest, until reaching the Lilac Rock, where the Draganka cave is. There are no marks along the route. Old people are saying that between Draganka and the Tamno cave there is a tunnel, because once a goat got lost, enter from the one side, and left from the other.  
The Draganka cave bears the name of a young woman from Tabachka, which was chosen by a rich Turk, who talked her into eloping with him, but she did not wanted to, because the Turkish faith smelled in steamed elder. Because of this answer the Turk killed her and hid her body into the cave.
Again in Lyulyach are the Gates of Racho, they also call them Raycho’s, Rayko’s. According to the old people these were the Gates of Rayko, because when Rayko (the Sun) showed up, he was passing first through the Gates, and then he continued around the World. The Gates were destroyed by an earthquake.
The Haidouk’s cave is located around 300 m away from the Farm’s Yard in the upper end of the village. This is a shallow cave in rocky cliff above the river, where some time ago the haidouks of Father Martin were hiding.
You will probably be capable of exploring the caves by yourselves, but for greater security look for a local man to guide you at the Mayor’s Office. Bring water along the route.
 

D. The “Orlova Chuka” cave – archaeological reserve, located 35 km to the south of Rousse, near the village of Pepelina.

The cave is located in the picturesque canyon of the Cherni Lom river, discovered in 1941. So far, around 15 km of galleries have been studied, and thus the cave takes the second place in our country in terms of length. The routes, offered to the visitors, are much shorter. Do not enter without a guide. A fireplace of the prehistoric people has been discovered here, as well as the bones and a skull of a cave bear. The cave is a habitat of around ten kinds of bats, whose colonies are housing up to several thousand examples. These harmless mammals are protected by the law and should not be bothered. According to the local legends, the cave gave shelter to Father Martin, one of the local haiduks, and in one of the corridors he made a church.