Ruše throughout the centuries

Ruše lies at the foot of Pohorje, about 13 km from Maribor. How Ruše developed and what kind of place the chroniclers established for them over the centuries can be seen from the following notes.

It is known from historical sources that Ruše existed as a settlement already in the Celtic and Illyrian eras, i.e. around 400 BCE. Rich excavations under the home of the Ruše Fire Station testify to this. A cemetery from the Celtic era was discovered, in which around 600 large and small clay vessels were found, where the ashes of the deceased were stored. From the Roman period, the remains of an old Roman fortress and a sanctuary of the god Mithras were excavated in the forest below the station. Most of these historical finds are today located in Graz, Austria, only a few are kept by the Maribor Museum.

Archive: Olga Malec

Ruška Cerkvena Kronika keeps more important notes about the settlement.

Around the year 905, a chapel was built in the centre of a small settlement in Ruše, which after many constructions became a church. From the gift deed of the Counts of Spanheim, it can be deciphered that the church and large adjoining lands in Ruše and Smolnik were donated to the monastery of monks from St. Pavla in the Labot Valley. These monks performed here, in addition to paternal justice, also bloody judgment. The sentence was pronounced at Fala Castle, and carried out near the former Kaudek sawmill (now Marles Settlement), as evident by the remains of the hills where the gallows were placed. After the execution of the sentence, the users had refreshments in a nearby inn, which has retained its local name "Pri Gaugenvirt" to this day. The compulsory taxes of the people of Ruše and Smolnik to the monastery were quite high for that time, with the former paying them in wine and agricultural products, and the latter in wood. Late payment of these duties was punished severely.

In the second half of the 14th century, Ruše came under the rule of the Habsburgs. The Chronicle tells us that Emperor Ferdinand III. visited Ruše, where the residents welcomed him with singing and music in the special cultural centre Odeum (the building of the former Rulik Gallery in the centre of Ruše). That year Ruše became a market town but had to accept such heavy obligations, especially regarding the maintenance of the military, that they soon renounced this honour and remained a village instead. 

Ruše often experienced attacks from the Turks, especially during the fierce wars of conquest waged by the mighty sultan Suleiman. In order to protect the inhabitants at least somewhat from the rampages of the Turkish hordes, at the initiative of the then pastor Lichtenstein, a strong defensive tower was built next to the church. In Kluže under the Fala cliff, the people of Ruše and Smolnik built a defensive wall (the Turkish wall), the remains of which can still be seen today.

It is clear from the Chronicle that not even the period of peasant uprisings and revolts managed to bypass Ruše. Ruše farmers and serfs fought around Vuzenica and Maribor, and the Smolensk farmers were not far behind them.

On December 19th 1779, a large fire almost completely turned the town to ashes. It is said to have been set ablaze by some janitor who was lighting his way to mass with resinous reeds.

The murder of the Austrian heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was revealed to the people of Ruše in the middle of a large Sokoli performance and a national ceremony, which resulted in the deportation of many people from Ruše to Maribor prisons. Ruše was nicknamed “Little Belgrade”, and one of the streets is still called by that name today.

Ruše, in preparation, accepted the fascist occupation, because a strong cell of the Communist Party had been working all along, with the support of the labour-educational societies. It was here that was formed one of the first partisan companies in Slovenia, which later became part of the legendary Pohorje Battalion. This battalion heroically fell on January 8, 1943, at Osankarica in Pohorje. Ruše contributed a great deal to the national liberation struggle, as evidenced by the imposing memorial to the victims in the centre itself, which houses the remains of 114 freedom fighters. 

Even more varied than the historical development is the cultural development of Ruše. We cannot ignore the fact that in 1187, a primary school, the oldest cultural institution in Styria, was built next to the church in Ruše. They were taught by four spiritual teachers who were Slovenes by birth and who, in addition to German, also taught in the Slovene language. Annual cultural events were held in the Odeum cultural home. The notes of the Fala chronicler tell us that between 1620 and 1628, a college for religious, philosophical, and economic studies operated in the Fala castle. It was granted the status of a university, making it the first higher education institution on Slovene soil.

The cultural life of Ruše was enriched in 1645 by the opening of the six-grade grammar school, which existed here for more than 100 years, until 1763, and at that, time was the only such school in Lower Styria. In the Ruše church chronicle Notata Rastenzia, the pastor Jurij Kozina is identified as the founder and first head of this high school. The chronicle further states that during its existence, 11 principals, eight of whom were Ruše born, led this gymnasium and raised compatriots - all of them were Slovenians. This school experienced a special boom during the directorship of Luka Jamnik. He is also the originator of Ruše theatre plays. In 1680, he introduced them, based on the model found in Jesuit high schools, and they were then performed until 1722. The actors were high school students, and they cultivated drama and music. The play was staged in the square in front of the chaplaincy. They were given in Slovenian and Latin, which is also of particular importance.

The bourgeois revolution in Austria also brought a cultural spring to Slovenes in Ruše. In these new conditions, a reading society was formed. In addition, we should also mention the branch of the Cyril and Methodius Society, which was founded by the teacher Davorin Lesjak. Much more important was Lesjak's initiative to establish the Podravina branch of the Slovenian Mountaineering Association, which was founded in 1901.

In 1931, they started building an annual theater stage in Ruše, which is still in operation today.

It would be wrong of us not to mention the poet, prof. Janko Glazer. He hails from the family of Glazer blacksmiths, who set up their forges by the streams of eastern Pohorje, and one branch settled in Lobnica. He was born on March 21, 1893 in Ruše. The pinnacle of his extensive lyrical creation is the poetry collection Čas-Kovač, in which he outlined the environment of his home in Pohorje and Lobnica.

Local Holidays of Ruše

Citizens of Ruše Municipality celebrate their local holiday on January 8, as a memorial day linked to an important event in the history of our place. On September 11, 1942, a partisan unit, the 1st Battalion of the Pohorje Detachment - the Pohorje Battalion, was founded in Dobravlje in Pohorje. In honour of the memory of the fall of the Pohor Battalion, we pay our respects every year with a wreath, which the representatives carry to Trg Vstaje in front of the central monument to the fallen freedom fighters. On this occasion, a representative of the main board of the Union of Associations of Fighters for the Values of the NOB of Slovenia gives out the Republic of Fighters awards.

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