The beautiful medieval capital is spectacularly located on the steep, craggy banks of the river Yantra. It is crowned by the imposing hill fortress Tsaravets and is Bulgaria’s little-known gem. You should explore the attractive old town cobbled streets to see traditional Bulgarian town life preserved like a real-life museum and be sure not to miss the recently-restored Samovodska Charshiya. Veliko Tarnovo hosts a delightful combination of National Revival Style architecture intermingled with the new face of modern Bulgaria, which includes shopping malls, bowling, and cinemas.
Veliko Tarnovo is renowned for its Universities so the thriving student population means there are many bars and restaurants offering excellent quality and well-priced refreshments. The students bring a good balance to the town where the old and the young live in harmony.Veliko Tarnovo is the jewel in Bulgaria’s crown and is a must-see destination for any visitor to Bulgaria.
Read more at Veliko Tarnovo’s official information Website.
Tsaravets hill was the main fortification during medieval times when Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of Bulgaria. The hill has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium B.C. However, its current thick stone fortified walls and guard towers date from the medieval age of the 12th Century. It is well worth a visit to admire the views of the river Yantra and rocky outcrops of Arbanassi and to experience the centre of Bulgarian history across the ages. Particularly interesting are the Baldwin Tower, Execution Tower and the Escalator and viewing tower behind the church at the summit.
Tsaravets Sound and Light Show
The Sound and Light show is a unique and enthralling experience re-creating the history of Tsaravets through a very large-scale audio-visual display. The hill and castle are brought back to life with the flashing coloured floodlights and lasers set to dramatic music outlining the tragic history of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1393). Only three shows of this type exist in the world and it is a unique attraction in Europe.
Samovodska Craft Street
Atmospheric cobbled streets make up this area of the old town where there are many arts and crafts shops. It is a good place to buy quality pottery and antiques. The area has been refurbished in recent years but still maintains the old-world charm of National Revival period architecture. There are 20 artisans who make and sell items ranging from copper-work to bread. The recently restored Hadji Nikolii Inn, famous for its wonderful architecture, is a lovely place to stop for a coffee or to sample some of their extensive range of Bulgarian wines.
Gurko Street & Sarafinka’s House
This is a beautiful cobbled street where the houses, built during the 18th and the 19th centuries, rise steeply one above the other, reflected picturesquely in the river below. The street also offers an unequalled view toward the monument of the Assens (The Four Horsemen) and the Yantra River. The lovely Gurko Hotel is a perfect place to sit and admire the view. On this street you can find Sarafinka’s House. Built in 1861 by a rich Turkish merchant and moneylender, this fine five-storey National Revival style house-museum displays antique ceramics, metalwork, wood carvings and jewellery, and has some fascinating exhibits about traditional costumes and bread-making. Revival-period furniture fills the upper floor, along with vintage family photos.
Multimedia Visitor Centre
Opened in 2013 and located near Tsaravets Hill, this centre recreates the lives of a broad range of social layers in medieval Bulgarian history. Famous sculptures, paintings and models represent historical figures and events from the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Lives of monarchs, clergy, warriors and craftsmen are all represented and there is a re-enactment of a coronation. There are 5 interactive boards and a film studio with films repeating regularly. This is unique in the Balkans.
This delightful new addition to Veliko Tarnovo took its first trip in 2013 and will assist tourists in making the trip across the hilly town. The circular route passes from the Tourist Information Centre to the Fortress of Tsaravets. The train departs every hour and is 2.00 Leva for a ticket. There is a ramp for easier access too.
St Peter & Paul Church
This church gives a good insight into the history and culture of the old Bulgarian kingdoms. It remained the only big church in Tarnovo unharmed after the conquest of the Ottomans and served as the main church of the Tarnovo eparchy so it was very special and it remained undamaged right up to the big earthquake in the beginning of the 20th century. The façade is very much a result of restoration work, but the inner preserved frescoes are original from 14th century and later.
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