Location: Northern Bulgaria Type: historical landmarks; road trip; Bulgaria Suitable for children: yes; with a baby carrier for babies and toddlers in the fortress
Veliko Tarnovo is situated almost in the center of Bulgaria, along the picturesque river valley of Yantra. The medieval capital of Bulgaria can offer much to the traveler, with its ancient history, unique architecture and beautiful nature.
The tree hills
The hill and fortress of Tsarevets is one of Veliko Tarnovo most notable landmarks.
The royal and the patriarchal palaces were situated here during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD). Here are also the boyar churches (boyars were the Bulgarian noblemen). Fortified with tick walls (reaching up to 3,6 m) and Yantra river from three sides, the fortress was impregnable.
The palace ensemble was located on 6000 square meters area with a 32 meters long and 15 meters wide throne room. Back in the time it was richly decorated with pink marble, green serpentine and Egyptian porphyry.
Trapezitsa is the second fortress of medieval Tarnovo, home of the nobility during the Second Bulgarian Empire.
An interesting fact is that back in 1884-1900 the French archaeologist Georges Seurat first revealed the foundations of 17 churches located on the hill. Nowadays new archaeological structures have been unearthed, dating back to the Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine period.
In the south is the hill Sveta Gora (Holly wood), the cultural and spiritual hearth of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
Located on the hill was the monastery “St. Bogoroditsa Odigitria”, home of hermits and monks. Today you can walk around the hill and enjoy the peaceful scenery.
The old town of Veliko Tarnovo
The old town is situated around the tree hills with its narrow streets and beautiful houses, typical for the Bulgarian Revival (18th-19th century).
Here you can visit some interesting museums and learn more about the history of the region and Bulgaria. Don`t miss the the Archaeological Museum, the Regional Museum of History and the museum of The Bulgarian Revival and the Constituent Assembly. Or enjoy a quiet walk and a nice meal at a local restaurant.
The Sound and Light show
The spectacular audiovisual show tells the story of the fall of Veliko Tarnovo to the Ottomans, using dramatic music, multicolor lights, lasers and chiming bells.
It can be watched for free on public holidays from Tsar Asen I Square in front of the main gate of Tsarevets Fortress. Private showings could be booked for a fee.
If you are in the area don`t miss the famous village of Arbanassi, located 3 km from Veliko Tarnovo. Its houses are fully preserved with typical for the Bulgarian Revival architecture .