Today I’m going to talk about Veliko Tarnovo, a fascinating place in Bulgaria. I was told about it by a friend. She loved the place so much that she and her husband were going there on weekends away a few times each year. After visiting it I had to agree with her and we went there twice.
I’m going to share lots of pictures from Veliko Tarnovo. If you want to read a bit more about this amazing place, check their website. There are lots of museums and interesting buildings to see there. Veliko Tarnovo is located in central Bulgaria, a couple of hours drive from Sofia.
This is the hill of Tsarevets. Tarvono was the capital of the Bulgarian Kingdom, from 12th to 14th century, but it was inhabited since ancient times. It has a strategic location due to the hills. Besides the hill of Tsarevets, there are two more hills, along with the slopes and the river Yantra; it was easier to defend.
The date marks the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman rule. I talked about this in the post.
The earliest human settlements on the hill date back to the 2000 BCE. In the 5th century CE it was a Byzantine fortress. In medieval times, the Bulgarian kings would live here. The fortress was built during that period, in the 12th to 14th century. At that time orthodox churches were built too. In 1393, the Ottomans would conquer Veliko Tarnovo after a three months siege.
The city, along with all Bulgaria, remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century. The Russians helped them overthrow the rule of the Ottoman Empire. After that, Veliko Tarvono, would be the temporary capital of Bulgaria. Even their first constitution is called the Tarnovo Constitution, as it was created there. A few miles from Veliko is Arbanasi, a beautiful medieval village I visited too. Arbanasi is filled with historical buildings that are a must see: The House of Konstantsaliev, four medieval churches, St. Nikola Monastery, and The Virgin Mary Assumption Monastery.
The views are spectacular. I loved walking through the old city and admiring the beauty of nature and the charm of the medieval buildings. As it’s so big, it wouldn’t feel crowded even on the busiest day.
The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God is a fascinating cathedral. It’s not as big as other European cathedrals. But it was built in the 11th century. At that time I imagine it was quite impressive in size too. Also, the hills don’t allow for a vast building.
It was built on the spot of where an old Roman basilica dating back to the 5th century once stood. It was meant to be a monastery church, but with the increase of power of the Veliko Tarnovo, it become a cathedral. The Ottomans destroyed the church during the siege of Tarnovo, the one mentioned earlier. It was recently reconstructed, in 1970s, to mark the anniversary of Bulgaria.
These unique murals were painted in the 1980s. The cathedral opened its doors to the public in 1985.
It is quite interesting to see modern paintings in an early medieval church.
The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God, viewed from further away.
The southeast Baldwin’s battle tower.
I’ve enjoyed a lot writing this post, remembering those beautiful places and looking a bit more into its history. This post is part of the Travel Memories Series. Last time I’ve been to Veliko was 8 years ago.
Have you been to Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria? If not, would you like to? I would like to hear your thoughts.