Places of interest

Location: Arbanasi is one of the most picturesque old villages in Bulgaria, perched atop the rocky plateau of the same name, just 4 km north-east from Veliko Tarnovo.

Population: The village population is about 310 inhabitants.

History: The earliest written document where the name of Arbanasi is mentioned is the sultan’s decree of Suleiman the Magnificent dated 1538. There are different theories about the origin of the name and the population of Arbanasi. It is believed that it was populated by Bulgarian boyars, who came from the farthest western areas together with their villagers after the glorious victory of Ivan Asen II at Klokotnitsa on 9th of March, 1230, when he also conquered the Arbanasi’s land (today’s Albania).

The economic and cultural bloom of Arbanasi took place during the second half of the 17th century till the end of the 18th century. At that time the village had about 1000 houses mostly populated by wholesalers and skilled craftsmen and their families. People bred silkworms and exported silk for Istanbul and Italy. Vine-growing was and still is very popular.

Landmarks: Arbanasi is a landmark itself. The architecture of the buildings there is so unique, that the term “Arbanasi type house” became common. In fact the oldest ones are similar to the boyars’ houses in Veliko Tarnovo. Well-known houses in Arbanasi are the Konstantsaliev’s house, Hadzhi Iliya’s House, Kandilarov’s house, the Hadzhinikov’s house and others. Their entire construction is made of stone and they constitute small fortresses with internal staircases. They are protected by strong stone gates – sentry-boxes on the outside and there are niches (firidi) for the night guards. Besides the houses, there are also very interesting fountains with large eaves – the Kokonska and Pazarska fountains. The churches in Arbanasi are also interesting – “St. George”, “St. Athanasius”, “St. Demetrius” and “Nativity of Christ”, which are among the most prominent monuments of Bulgarian art for the period of the 14th - 18th century. In the village there are also two monasteries – ”The Assumption of the Theotokos” and “St. Nicholas”. There is an extraordinary view to the Tsarevets and Trapezitsa hills from Arbanasi, which are among the most visited cultural sites in the country.