Cities
Veliko Tarnovo
Bulgaria


Location: Veliko Tarnovo is situated in Central North Bulgaria, in the foot of the Balkan Mountain, on the historical hills of Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta gora. The city is located at almost equal distances from the largest cities in the country 225 km from Sofia, 228 km from Varna, 200 km from Plovdiv and 224 km from Burgas.

Population: The city has 74 800 inhabitants. The population of the old capital city profess the Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The seat of the historical Veliko Tarnovo eparchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is located in the city.

History: Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest cities in Bulgaria. It has more than five thousand years of history. The first evidence about life in the city is from the third century before Christ. The old part of Veliko Tarnovo the royal palace from the time when the city was a capital of Bulgaria, during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1187-1396) is situated on 3 hills Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta gora. In 1185 the brothers Asen and Petar proclaimed the end of the Byzantium rule, which had continued for 167 years, in the St Demetrius Church and this is when Tarnovo was proclaimed for a capital of the new Bulgarian Empire. The medieval city developed quickly as a fortress during the 12th - 14th century. It turned into the most significant political, economic, cultural and religious centre of Bulgaria. The city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1396. After the Liberation and signature of the Berlin Treaty, the city became a temporary capital this is where the Constituent Assembly in 1879 was called, the place where the Constitution of Tarnovo, which was in force till 1947, was endorsed. The first Great National Assembly that elected Alexander I, as well as a series of other regular national assemblies, were also called here. Today, Veliko Tarnovo is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria. This is where the second largest university in Bulgaria is located Sts Cyril and Methodius, as well as the "Vasil Levski" National defence university. Each year in summer the international folklore festival "Veliko Tarnovo" is organized in the city.

Landmarks:

  • Tsarevets Hill Archaeological Reserve is one of the symbols of Veliko Tarnovo. This is where the entrance gate, the Baldwin ower and part of the fortress walls are preserved and the palace and patriarch complex of the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th - 14th century) are restored.

  • The audio-visual show "Sound and Light" on Tsarevets hill is unique for Europe, actually such shows are organized in no more than three places around the world. Dramatic music, multi-coloured lights, lasers and church bells, combined in one show, recall about the glorious and tragic history of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396). The first show took place in 1985 in honour of the 800th anniversary from the rebellion of the brothers Asen and Petar. The hundreds of colourful lights and the three laser rays present moments from Bulgarian history, the battles against the Ottoman hordes, the years of the Ottoman rule and the revolutionary movement of Liberation.

  • Trapezitsa Hill - with its 17 discovered foundations of churches, Asen's quarter with the St Demetrius Church and the Sts Forty Martyrs Church are associated with the grandeur of the Bulgarian Empire in the 12th century.

  • Archaeological Museum In the museum one can see the exposition "Tarnovgrad capital of Bulgaria during 12th - 14th century. The exhibited archaeological monuments there illustrate the thousand years of history and culture of Veliko Tarnovo Region, where the emphasis is put on the period, when the city was the capital of the Bulgarian medieval state.

  • The Museum of the Bulgarian National Revival and the Constituent Assembly is located in the north part of Saedinenie Square in the city of Veliko Tarnovo. The exposition is situated in the building of the old Turkish camp. This architectural monument was built in 1872 by the great constructor and master from the revival period Kolyu Ficheto. In 1985 the adaptation of the building for its designation as a museum was completed.

  • Samovodska charshia was established during the 60s and 70s of the 19th century, when Tarnovo started to expand to the west from the economic centre of Badzharlak. Two streets with commercial and craftsman's premises, workshops and taverns were formed. One of them started from a small square, which is now known as the Samovodska market. Today, the craftsman's market is a prominent museum site in Veliko Tarnovo. Several workshops have been equipped and are still operating, including workshops for pottery, guns, carving, workshop for kadaif, icon painting atelier, workshop for weaving, candy shop and others. There are also numerous souvenirs and antiques shops.

  • Gurko Street is one of the most picturesque streets from the city from the Revival period, with many restored old houses is Gurko Street. The houses there are arranged densely next to each other and all of them face the river. Gurko Street is a symbol of the romantic and beauty a unique and attractive street.

  • State Art Gallery The gallery collects and stores works of Bulgarian artists from different generations and periods from the development of Bulgarian pictorial art.

Surroundings:

  • Arbanasi: is museum-village, situated 4 km north-east of Veliko Tarnovo, which used to be the summer residence of Bulgarian kings. This is one of the most beautiful Bulgarian villages. We take pleasure to walk among these fortress-houses with ground floor build of solid stone and second floor build of wood, most of which are now turned into restaurants or small private owned hotels. Today many of these houses are turned into museums too and are open for visitors. Anyway the most interesting places from touristic point of view are the four churches of the ancient village St George, St Atanasus, St Demetrius and The Nativity of Christ, who are remarkable examples of the Bulgarian fine arts from 14th to 18th centuries, along with the two monasteries Assumption of the Virgin and St Nicholas. Buried in the greenery of the walnut trees, Arbanassi offers an outstanding view of Tsarevetz and Trapezitsa hills.

  • Nicopolis ad Istrum: is situated from 18 km north of Veliko Tarnovo. Here are the ruins of a majestic Roman town found by emperor Trajan in second century A.D. to mark his glorious victory over the Dacians. During the excavation works until now the scientists have recovered the Forum, few wide city streets, some places for worship of different Roman, Greek and eastern gods as well as few stone buildings. A curious fact is that the city had fully functional sewer system. An immense aqueduct with the total length of 26 km. supplied the town with fresh water from a cavern near the village of Musina. Skillfully engineered roads, covered with paving stones connected the city with other populated areas in Moesia and Thrace. The city attained the peak of its power between the second and fourth centuries A.D. Nicopolis at Istrum was fully destroyed in sixth century. In tenth century at the same place a small Bulgarian village of little significance sprung-up. There is no evidence that the place was inhabited during the Ottoman period. Anyway in 1880 excavation works on a large scale started here and as a result large marble statue of the God of Love Eros was found as well as bronze head of the Roman emperor Gordianus Pius (238 244 A.D.). Some architectural fragments, little figurines and other objects were also found here, but undoubtedly the most interesting object found was the statue of Asclepius God of Medicine (1.83 m. in height and weighting 800 kg.) which is on display in the archaeological museum in Veliko Tarnovo.

  • Preobrazhenski Monastery (Transfiguration Monastery): is situated from 7 km north of Veliko Tarnovo. That is one of the most remarkable examples of architecture and fine arts from the National Revival, standing amidst the majestic gorge of river Yantra. A visitor will be able to see remarkable wall paintings from Zahari Zograf, chancel-screen made by masters from the town of Tryavna and an icon of St Andrew from Stanislav Dospevski.