Little Vienna on Lower Danube
Rousse was the most modern city in Bulgaria following the Liberation of 1878
9 February, 2018
The regional library was designed in the Neo-Baroque style.
The Viennese House.
The House with the Town Clock.
Rousse is one of the largest cities in Bulgaria. Located on the bank of the Danube River some 300km northeast of Sofia and only 80km south of the Romanian capital Bucharest, it is often referred to as Little Vienna, as its centre is among the most beautiful in the country, built as it was at the end of the 19th century and modelled after the then-capital of Austro-Hungary.
Even though it dates back to Roman times, the city did not become prominent until the 19th century, when trade and shipping along the Danube River started to thrive. These operations and the proximity to Wallachia combined to make Rousse the largest city in Bulgaria at the time of its liberation from Ottoman rule in 1878. Moreover, Rousse kept that status in the following decades before it was overtaken by the capital Sofia around the time of the Balkan Wars and WWI.
In that period of about 30 years, Rousse was the most modern city in Bulgaria, with many of the technological and other innovations of the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century being first introduced in Bulgaria thanks to the beautiful Danube city. In 1878, Rousse became the first Bulgarian city for which a special town planning design was made. It was the first place to have curb stones, sidewalks and street gas lamps. The Danube Fleet was established in 1879 in Rousse, which is also the home of the first agricultural school. The first Bulgarian metal ship was built in 1881 in Rousse and the first private bank, Girdap, was also established there that same year. In 1883, the first weather station in the country was built in Rousse, followed by the establishment of the first technological society in 1885. The first film screening in Bulgaria took place in Rousse in 1897.
The city is especially proud of its centre, extremely modern at the time of its creation and well-preserved to this day. It was built at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in the Neo-Baroque, Modern, Neo-Classicism and Secession styles. The unmistakable symbol of the city is Dohodno Zdanie (literally “Earnings Building”), built between 1898 and 1902 and designed by Vienna architect Peter Paul Brang to host the theatre performances in the city. The name was prompted by the idea that the building would earn the school board of trustees money through renting the premises for the theatre hall, the library and the planned casino and stores.
The main walkway Alexandrovska Str., a unique architectural mixture of buildings in the Neo-Classicism, Neo-Baroque and Secession styles, is stunningly beautiful. The building of the Girdap bank, known simply as the Town Clock nowadays, is among the masterpieces gracing the street. Perhaps the most striking building in Rousse is the so-called Viennese House completed in 1900, the materials for which were especially ordered and imported from all over the world.