Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria, is brought to you with more than 7000 years of history. The houses, stacked one above the other, situated on the sloppy hills of the town show a remarkable, unique architectural style. The bridges, unexpectedly flying over the river, palaces and towers, spectacular museums, ancient columns with writings left by proud rulers, monasteries with unique murals and the Arbanassi fortress-houses.
The nights are filled with the constant voice of the river, the glitters and dazed lights, playing on the fairy face of the town and the noise of the energy-filled stormy student’s life. Veliko Tarnovo has the second largest university in the country and the streets are filled with young people and there is a very modern, upbeat feeling that fills the air.
"There is perhaps no city in Eastern Europe with a setting more spectacular and romantic then Veliko Tarnovo, city of the tsars. Here the Yantra river wends its way gracefully through a sheer tree-lined gorge atop of which sits the ancient capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396). Tourism here is thriving as word spreads in the evermore obscure contest to find Eastern Europe’s new big thing. Now word is well and truly out and travellers are making a beeline to Tarnovo right after Prague and Budapest."
Veliko Tarnovo is not a street, a house, a church and a palace only. It lives not only in one epoch. Veliko Tarnovo is one of the everlasting towns in the world – "The Third Rome", "The Second Constantinople", "The Bulgarian Jerusalem", "The Queen of the towns"
Veliko Tarnovo is not a tick box destination. Allow yourselves longer time than originally planned. There are lots of great excursion destinations around the town all within an hour away.
The region around boasts many attractive landscapes and scenic landmarks. The appearance of the city’s immediate surroundings is shaped by deep valleys flanked by steep limestone rocks.
There are remarkable trails, such as the “Negovanka” eco-trail (in the village of Emen), “Preobrajenska” eco-trail just a few kilometers outside of the city, eco-trails to the village of Arbanassi, Dryanovo monastery’s eco-trail and many more, which will take you to scenic sights such as caves, narrow gorges, waterfalls and spectacular lookout points.
Preobrazhenski Monastery (the Monastery of the Transfiguration ― Preobrazhenie) is the biggest of the monasteries around Veliko Tarnovo and the fourth largest in the country. It lies at a distance of 7 km from Veliko Tarnovo in the wooded gorge of Derventa, below the caves in the cliffs which surround the Belyakovo Plateau. It was founded in the 11th century as a branch of the Vatopedi Monastery, but became autonomous about 1360 when Tsaritsa Theodora-Sarah (the Jewess whom Ivan Alexander married as his second wife) and her son Tsar Ivan Shishman gave a lot of money for its reconstruction and redevelopment. That is why it is also called Sarah’s or Shishman’s monastery.
This is one of the places that really can delight your eye. The waterfall is reachable in 20 minutes drive. Hotnitsa waterfall is going to show you one of the incredible creations of nature. When you pass the small wood bridge, you will find a vast meadow, which is going to reveal you the magnificent view of the waterfall. The Hotnitsa waterfall is a challenge for the lovers of the extremes and for those who look for a quiet and beautiful place for picnic. In the summer the waterfall will save you from the heats.
Beautiful place to visit. Beautiful homes and it gives you an idea of life in this small community on 60 acres. The Balkan settlement life is displayed from the time of Bulgarian revival. Every mechanism in the handicraft shops is set in motion by the water and skillful masters make fineries, pottery, copperware, woolen braids, and wooden pots. The Ethnographic museum Etar is the first open air museum of this kind in Bulgaria. It was established on September 7th, 1964. The cobble-stoned street has the flavor of worm bun, coffee and white sweet. Colored rugs shine over the balconies bearing the colors of the earth – green, blue, red and white. The stone fountains, the gas lamps, the clock tower, the white-wall houses and the taverns are authentic. For tourists, this is both an idyllic look back to the past and a new knowledge. The idea of the Etara belongs to Lazar Donkov – Bulgarian architect who devoted his life to the noble lifework.
More information: http://www.etar.org/liato/welcome.htm
Dryanovo Monastery of St. Archangel Michael was founded in the 12th century and is in close proximity to the summer residence of the Bulgarian rulers from the Assen dynasty.It is believed that the first building in this place was founded some 2km to the north of the today’s buildings, in an area called The Little St Archangel.
Its founders were two rebel boyars of the once-capital city of Tarnovo – the Assen and Petar brothers. In the 14th century, the holy place was one of the main centers of Hesychasm and offered shelter many monks. It has endured many destructions several times during the Ottoman domination. In its today’s site the monastery exists since 1845. The main church was built in 1861. Almost completely ruined after the Ottoman Turks’ invasion, the monastery buildings were restored in 1880. Next to the church there is a monument raised in memory of the perished victims in the destruction. In the monastery one can also find a museum exhibition which consists of items from all historical epochs including Neolithic finds from a nearby cave.
Other monasteries which are excellent day trip destinations are:
More information on the monasteries around Veliko Tarnovo you can find on: http://www.velikoturnovo.info/arte.php
An idyllic village nestled in the folds of the Balkan Range, 30 km from the town, which time seems to have lulled to sleep centuries ago. The shutters of the workshops have been closed, the blacksmiths have stopped hammering, and the hearths have gone out. The well in the square, the wax workshop and the St. Elijah Church are almost 200 years old. Until the end of the 19-th century Bozhenci has been an economic, administrative, educational and spiritual center for the surrounding villages. Today, there are 100 houses left, built 100 – 250 years ago.
This path offers breathtaking views of the flower covered steep cliffs. Wherever the eye looks one sees fantastic views. The waters of the waterfalls are clean and cool. The vicinity offers also delightful places for picnics amidst the lush summer greenery. Continuing along the path you suddenly face a cave gaping in the cliffs. The canyon of the river Negovanka is included in the protected zone “Nature 2000 of the EU”
Tryavna is one of those little gem towns not too far from the city of Veliko Tarnovo. Tryavna is a nice village to walk around in. Do a tour of the typical houses with impressive carved wood ceilings. There are lots of woodworking shops, antiques, and various artisan shops in the old town where you can buy real leather hand-made belt, for instance.