Veliko Tarnovo is rich in history and culture because it was the capital of Bulgaria during the second kingdom (12th to 14th century) and home to their dynasties of kings (Tsars). Among its many historical and cultural sights are:
The Tsaravets fortress is a medieval stronghold protected on three sides by the Yantra river. Remnants on Tsarevets Hill date back to the end of the Bronze Era (13th century BC). Tsaravets Hill is situated in the Eastern part of Veliko Tarnovo and has been proclaimed an architectural reserve. Excavation works have revealed more than 400 dwellings, 22 churches and 4 monastery complexes. Parts of the fortress walls, gates as well as the Baldwin tower have been preserved. During Bulgarias peak period (the Second Bulgarian Kingdom 1185 - 1393) Veliko Tarnovo was Bulgarias capital and inside the walls of Tsaravets the Bulgarian emperors (and the Patriach) had their palaces.The palace and the Patriarchs complexes of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom have been restored. During the 11th - 13th centuries Bulgaria regained its former glory and with a foothold on three seas it became the most influential country in South Eastern Europe.
Sound and Light show
is an audiovisual show held at the Tsaravets fortress using music, lasers, spectacular illumination and sometimes fireworks to portray the grandeur of the ancient capital city Veliko Tarnovo and display the Bulgarian spirit and national pride. Ringing church bells and dramatic music is used to tell the story of Bulgarias great, yet tragic history - the battles agains the conquerors, the suffering of the slaves and finally the celebration of freedom. The light show is shown during major public holidays and also on request by payment to the local Tourist Information centre.
Sarafkina House museum
is located on 88 Gurko stret. The house was built in the 1860s by a wealthy Turkish businessman. This is now a museum with rooms and interiors restored to the prevailing taste of the 19th and early 20th century. The museum has an exhibition of local crafts and also an interesting costume collection.
picturesque street with unique architecture, traditional stone houses and narrow cobbled streets. It has gorgeous views of the Yantra river and the Assens Monument. Gurko street is the oldest street in Veliko Tarnovo and its charming stone houses almost give the impression of being stacked on top of each other.
The most valuable archeological finds showing life in the region from ancient times until the 14th century are displayed in the archeological museum of Veliko Tarnovo. The rich culture of the people who inhabited the Veliko Tarnovo area from Neolithic Age the the Late Middle Ages is presented through numerous items such as gold and silver jewellery, coins, original frescoes, Tarnovo style ceramics etc. The oldest processed gold in the world - the unique Hotnitsa treasure dating back to the Eneolithic Age - is also displayed in the museum. Another interesting collection is clay artefacts from the Roman Age, such as ceramics, childrens toys, construction materials, pottery furnace and wonderful pieces of bronze and stone.
The museum displays remains of Thracian, Greek and Roman settlements and 1.3 million coins and ancient artefacts.
National Revival Museum
displays numerous photographs, original documents and materials, showing evidence of the rich yet turbulent past of Veliko Tarnovo in the period between 1500th and 19th centuries and during the Revival period. The exhibits reflect the glorious times and the culture of those days. The museum keeps masterpieces of Bulgarian icon painting. On the top floor is the hall where (in 1879) the Constituent Assembly passed the Tarnovo Constitution and elected the first Bulgarian Prince after the Liberation : Alexander of Battenberg.
was built in honour of the Assen Tsars: Peter Kaloyan ans Ivan Assen II. The Tsar was crucial for Bulgarias greatness period 1185 - 1393 when Veliko Tarnovo was the most important city in the Balkans. In 1185 the Tarnovo brothers Assen and Peter organized an uprising to free Bulgaria from its Byzantine rulers. Assens Monument was inaugurated in 1985 when Bulgaria celebrated its 800th anniversary of the uprising and the declaration of Tarnovo as the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185 - 1393). The monument comprises of a sword surrounded by the four tsars in combat on horseback. The statue is of huge proportions and can be seen from many places in Veliko Tarnovo.
Art Gallery Boris Denev
displays 5000 works of art divided into paintings, black and white drawings and sculptures. The art gallery is located behind the Assen Monument.
Samovodska Charshia (bazaar)
is the old market in Veliko Tarnovo. In the early 19th century when the town was rapidly developing, a shopping centre emerged here with lots of retail outlets and artisan workshops, bakeries and cafees.The artisans in the shops existing nowadays employ authentic technologies thus trying to re-create the Renaissance athmosphere.
Samovodska Chashia is located in the Varusha district. The Samovodska Charshia area was the home of many craftsmen. In the 1980s, these shops were restored to house traditional craftsmen such as iron smiths, carpet weavers, copper smiths, wood sculpters, potters, icon-painters, gold smiths and bakers. Visitors are welcome to try various crafts and there is also the opportunity to purchase pastries and handmade souvenirs.
Church of the Forty Martyrs
was built in 1230 to honour the victory of Tsar Ivan Assen II over the Epirus ruler Theodore Comnenos at Klokotnitsa. During archeological excavations of the church, a man royal tomb of a man wearing a 61 gram gold ring (Kaloyans ring) was unearthed.
Other historical and cultural sights in Veliko Tarnovo city
Patriachate Church, Tsaravets Hill
Cathedral Church, old town Bolyarka Mahala (the largest active church in Veliko Tarnovo)
St. Nikolai Church, Eastern part of the Varusha district
St. Cyril and Methodius Church, highest part of the Varusha district
Assumption Church, Assens quarter
St. Peter and Pavel (Paul) Church, Assens quarter
St. Dimitar Church, Assens quarter
St. Georges Church, Assens quarter
Modern History Museum - presents the participation of Veliko Tarnovo in the state government and in the wars for the national unification of Bulgaria.
Prison Museum - where prominent figures of the Bulgarian national movement for liberation from the Ottomans (19th century) served time. Visits need to be pre-booked.
Architecture Museum (Bulgarian Architecture National Museum), 35 Ivan Vazov Str.
Emilian Stanev house Museum, 20 Nikola Zlatarski Str. Closed on Sundays and Mondays
Leon Filipov House Museum
Mother Bulgaria Monument , Hristo Bolev Str and Vasil Levski Str
The Perished in the Wars Monument, combined with the Mother Bulgaria Monument
Vasil Levski Monument, Vasil Levski Str
The Hanged Monument, Nezavisimost Str
Stefan Stambolov Monument, Georgi S. Rakovski Str
Nikola Pikolo Monument, Nikola Pikolo Str
Velchova Zavera Monument, Stefan Stambolov Str
Emilian Stanev Monument, Slaveykov Square
Vladishki Most (Bishops Bridge)
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A week in Veliko Tarnovo - things to do - outdoor activities, sights, shopping, food, restaurants, bars, clubs
Outdoor activities - swimming, hiking, eco-trails, waterfalls, horse riding, climbing, fishing, cycling
Indoor activities - clubs, bars, cafees, restaurants, shopping, billiards, ten pin bowling, cinema, apartment video library
Veliko Tarnovo - picturesque centre of culture, history and vibrant nightlife
Daytrips - villages Arbanasi, Tryavna, Elena, Gabrovo, Etara, Bozhentsi, Dryanovo, monasteries, Bacho Kiro cave
Events Calendar - Veliko Tarnovo - Balkan Folk Festival (May), Folklore Festival (July), Stage of Ages (Aug)
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Bulgaria - natural springs, rose oil, wines, festivals, culture, history, beaches, ski resorts
The road less travelled - Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, Kazanlak, Silistra (on Danube), Balchik (on Black Sea), Varna
Events Calendar - Bulgaria - Film Festival (March), Rose Festival (June), Varna Summer Festival (May - Oct)
Winter holiday in Bulgaria - skiing, spas, great food, clubbing
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