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Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo
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About Location

Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province.Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture.Until 1965 the name of the town was Tarnovo, and this is still the common name.The old city is situated on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora raising amidst the meanders of the Yantra.Tsarevets housed the palaces of the Bulgarian Emperors and the Patriarchate with the Patriarchal Cathedral, as well as a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls.Trapezitsa was known for its many churches and as the main residence of the nobility.In the Middle Ages it was among the main European centres of culture and gave its name to the architecture of the Tarnovo Artistic School, painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School and literature.

Veliko Tarnovo is an important administrative, economic, educational and cultural centre of Northern Bulgaria.As of February 2011, the town has a population of 68,197.Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, having a history of more than 5 millennia, as the first traces of human presence dating from the 3rd millennium B.O.T are on Trapezitsa Hill.The city flourished and grew for 200 years.Тhe political upsurge and spiritual development were discontinued on 17 July 1393. After vigorous resistance to a three-month siege, Veliko Tarnovo was seized and the whole Bulgarian Empire was destroyed by the Ottoman Empire.Many medieval Bulgarian towns and villages, monasteries and churches, were burnt to ashes.

Veliko Tarnovo, known in the Middle Ages as Tarnovgrad and known during the Ottoman rule as Tırnova, was the location of two uprisings against Ottoman rule, in 1598 (the First Tarnovo Uprising) and 1686 (the Second Tarnovo Uprising), both of which failed to liberate Bulgaria.Tarnovo was a district (sanjak) centre at first in Rumelia Eyalet, after that in Silistria Eyalet and finally in Danube Vilayet before becoming part of the Principality of Bulgaria.Tarnovgrad (Tırnova to Ottomans), along with the rest of present-day Bulgaria, remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century, when national identity and culture reasserted themselves as a strengthening resistance movement.The idea of the establishment of an independent Bulgarian church and nation motivated the 1875 and 1876 uprisings in town.On 23 April 1876, the April Uprising marked the beginning of the end of the Ottoman occupation.It was soon followed by the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).

According to Census 2011, Veliko Tarnovo has a population of 68,197 inhabitants as of February 2011.The number of the residents of the city reached its peak in the period 1986-1991 when exceeded 70,000.The following table presents the change of the population after the liberation of the country in 1878.On 7 July 1877, Russian general Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko liberated Veliko Tarnovo, ending the 480-year-rule of the Ottoman Empire.In 1878, the Treaty of Berlin created a Principality of Bulgaria between the Danube and the Stara Planina range, with its seat at the old Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo.

How to Reach

By Air

Although Veliko Turnovo's Gorna Oryahovitsa 4 km away is currently not open to passenger air traffic (it is possible to arrange private aircraft landings there by arrangement), it is possible to fly to Bulgaria's capital city Sofia, or the coastal city of Varna and then by rail or modern coach to Veliko Turnovo.

By Train

There is a small railway station in the town and it is possible to get a taxi to the centre of town from there for a cheap price.There are also local buses going just by the station, go to the bus stop next to a small restaurant building.There are buses at least every 20 minutes, and it costs 0,50 - 0,60 levs. You should have small money with you. Busride to center takes about 10-15 minutes.

By Bus

Buses run approximately hourly from Sofia. Several buses daily run from Plovdiv and Varna.The small bus station is 1km far from the centre of town so arrange pickup during winter.The ticket for the busses, departuring from Sofia to Turnovo, costs about 17 leva (9 euro).

By Car

One of the main roads in Bulgaria runs through the city, so car transport is not a problem to and from the city.Since the town is located relatively in the centre of Bulgaria, it is quite comfortable to stop there for an hour to rest and get a glimpse of the sights.

Key places to visit
Church of St Demetrius, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, Asenevtsi Monument, SS. Forty Martyrs Church, Church of SS. Peter and Paul, Samovodska Charshia, Stambolov's Bridge


Places to Visit

Church of St Demetrius

Is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church in the city of Veliko Tarnovo in central northern Bulgaria, the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire.The church lies at the northeastern foot of the Trapezitsa and Tsarevets hills, on the right bank of the Yantra River, outside the city's medieval fortifications. Architecturally, it has a pentahedral apse and a cross-domed design with a narthex and a fore-apse space.It was once part of a large monastery and belonged in its southeastern part.The church's exterior is decorated with blind arches and colourful ornaments: glazed rosettes, suns, rhombs and other painted figures.The church was built of stone alternated with three rows of bricks. It is 15.75 by 8.40 metres (51.7 ft × 27.6 ft) in size.


Is a medieval stronghold located on a hill with the same name in Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria. It served as the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary fortress and strongest bulwark from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces, and is a popular tourist attraction.The palace is located on the hill's central and plain part, which was a closed complex encircled by a fortified wall, 2 towers and 2 entrances, a main one from the north and one from the south.It featured a throne room, a palace church and a royal residential part and encompassed 4872 m2.


Is the second most important fortification in the old Bulgarian capital of Tarnovo.Its name means either trabeza (table) or derives from the word trapezium, giving an idea of its shape.Being a part of the capital, Trapezitsa hosted many beautiful buildings and churches.The main Christian buildings of Turnovo, as well as the patriarch’s residence were kept behind the thick fortress walls.Evidence shows that Trapezitsa hosted the residences of rich and noble Bulgarians.They lived in spacious buildings with remarkable architecture.A road hewn into the rock led to a bridge that connects Trapezitsa with the fortress of Tsarevets.Trapezitsa was protected by the river of Yantra, which provided natural defense mechanism.Four entrances led inside.The southern entrance was the main one.A part of the southern gate is still preserved.

Asenevtsi Monument

The Asenevtsi monument is dedicated to the brothers Asen, Petar, Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II.It was built in 1985 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the uprising of Asen and Petar, which led to the liberation of Bulgaria from the Byzantine Empire.The sword located in the middle is a symbol of the power and prosperity of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.Early rulers from the Asen dynasty (particularly Kaloyan) referred to themselves as "Emperors of Bulgarians and Vlachs“.Later rulers, especially the successful Ivan Asen II, styled themselves "Tsars (Emperors) of Bulgarians and Greeks“.

Right Time to Visit

January - March
April - July
September - December


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