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Veliko Tarnovo: the medieval capital of Bulgaria

Veliko Tărnovo, it’s a beautiful town situated along the river Yantra, it was the capital of Bulgaria from 1185 to 1393, during the Second Bulgarian Empire, is one of the oldest settlements in the country.

The historical part of the city is situated on three hills, and has many historical monuments as the ruins of the castles of Tsarevets (with the Royal Palace and the Patriarchal Palace) and Trapezitsa, the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, the Church of the Forty Martyrs and numerous houses in the typical Bulgarian architecture.

Veliko Tarnovo knew the period of maximum splendour in the Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th century. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1393, after three months of siege, and was under the Turkish occupation until 1877.

Veliko Tarnovo is connected with bus services and trains with Sofia, Burgas and Varna. The nearest airports are located in Varna (240 km) and Sofia (220 km).

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO VISIT IN VELIKO TARNOVO

To visit the old district, the medieval walls, the Fortress Tzarevetz, the Tower of Baldwin, the Royal Church of Saints Peter and Paul. In particular, the area of Tsarevets hill was declared an archaeological reserve where were restored the defensive walls and the so-called Tower of Baldwin.

One of the most interesting building of Tsarevets is the Palace of Tsar of Bulgaria (Royal Palace), composed of a fortress that encloses an area of over 4,800 sq meters, the palace retains the Throne Hall and the royal church of St. Petka, the palace was built between the thirteenth and fourteenth century and was destroyed after the Ottoman conquest.

Also on the hill of Tsarevets is also the Patriarchal Palace, built in a dominant position above the Royal Palace, occupies an area of 3,000 square meters, inside is the Patriarchal church with a bell tower.

At the foot of the western part of the hill, near the river, is one of the most important buildings of the city’s medieval period, the Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs, erected in 1230.

In the same district, called Assenova Mahala, which occupies the two sides of the river are three other important churches: St. Dimitur Solunski, St. Georgi and St. Peter and Pavel.

Veliko Tarnovo is connected with bus services and trains with Sofia, Burgas and Varna. The nearest airports are located in Varna (240 km) and Sofia (220 km).

To visit in the area:

Arbanasi (4 km), picturesque old town.

Monastery Preobrajenski (5 km), located under insurmountable rocks at peak of the left bank of the river Yantra. The monastery is famous for its four churches, built by the best Bulgarian masters since the Renaissance. The churches carved into the rock of Ivanovo (70 km), inserted site by UNESCO in the list of world heritage sites, this is a complex of churches, monasteries and chapels of the 12th-14th century with wall frescoes of exceptional beauty.

Kazanlak (100 km), another site included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, it is a tomb of the Hellenistic period (fourth century BC), which is located near Seutopolis, which was the ancient capital of king of Thrace Seutes III. The tomb has a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both environments are richly decorated with murals representing Thracian burial ritual. These paintings are the best examples of Hellenistic painting kept in Bulgaria.

Sveshtari (130 km), near this village is a Thrace Tomb of the third century BC. also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the tomb presents figures carved in high relief and murals.

Madara (150 km), another site included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage properties. On a rocky wall 100 meters tall is carved in the rock the figure of a knight who triumphs over a lion, along with an inscription that narrates the events occurred between 705 AD and 801 AD. Madara was the most important holy place of the first Bulgarian Empire before converting to Christianity occurred in the ninth century.

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