Veliko Turnovo

Veliko Tarnovo was the historic capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire between the 12th and 14th centuries.  As one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria, it is known with his five thousand years of history. This small, picturesque city is home to one of Europe’s grandest medieval monuments, the Tsaravets Fortress. Veliko Tarnovo was built on three hills: Tsaravets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora. Its attractive landscape has the Yantra River running through it.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was announced the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185 when the brothers  Assen and Theodor-Petar, led a two-year battle against the Byzantine Empire. Until that time, the city was named Turnovgrad. Under the Assen dynasty, Turnovgrad developed at a fast pace, with the addition of the most significant structures during the 12th through 14th centuries. Among these is the Tsaravets Fortress. During this Golden Age of prosperity, over 30 monasteries sprung up on Sveta Gora Hill, and the city becomes an economic and cultural centre.

Along with the rest of the Balkans, Turnovgrad fell into the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1393, where it remained for nearly 500 years. Bulgaria was finally liberated in 1877, and Veliko Tarnovo became the capital city of the newly formed independent state. The title didn’t last long. Sofia was re-named the capital almost two years later. Turnovgrad was renamed Veliko Tarnovo in 1966.

  • Tsaravets Fortress

Stone walls surround the Fortress Fortress. Once past the main gate, it is relatively easy to navigate the fortress on foot. There are a gentle incline and path, but visitors are necessarily free to walk anywhere and climb anything they like.

Head to the top of the hill is the Church of the Ascension. Below the church, on a lower level, you’ll see Baldwin Tower. Legend has it that this is where Tsar Kaloyan imprisoned count Baldwin of Flanders in the year 1205.

  • The Old Town

The Old Town is the perfect place for walking, especially Samovodskata Charshia. During the second half of the 19th century, this was where the farmers from the nearby village of Samovodene came on market days to sell their goods. In the 1980s the city revamped the area to recreate the atmosphere of the early 20th century. Samovodskata Charshia still contains several restored Revival buildings.

  • The Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum covers the history from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages. The most significant highlight of the museum is one of the oldest gold treasures in the world.

  • The Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum

The Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum is situated in the 19th century home of a wealthy local tradesman, Hadji Nikoli. It is a beautiful example of revival architecture and the only surviving in from that period.

  • The Assens Monument 

The Assens Monument can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Nicknamed the “horsemen statue,” it features the Bulgarian Tsars, Ivan Assen, Theodor-Petar, Kaloyan, and Assen. The statue, which was constructed 800 years after the city was appointed capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, memorates the tsars for their contributions to the town.

 “Tsarevgrad Turnov – Sound and Light” show is a stunning attraction which is emblematic for Veliko Tarnovo city.

A spectacular show of dramatic music, multicolour lights, lasers and chiming bells are synchronised uniquely to depict the tumultuous history of Bulgaria. One can immerse in this spiritual world, go back into past centuries, live the moments of ascent and downfall, the battles with the invaders, the sufferings of the oppressed people and their exaltation of the liberation! Everybody can easily feel magic of the ancient capital city, illuminated with grandeur and glory!

If you want to come and visit Veliko Tarnovo, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our professional team will make your tour unforgettable.