Sep 15

VELIKO TARNOVO, THE CITADEL OF WALACHIAN KINGS (ВЕЛИКО ТЪРНОВО)

Long ago, long before the first known Wallachian prince to appear on the history scene, on the land south of the Danube, the Vlachs, along with Bulgarians, were setting the basis of Tarnovgrad, that was going to remain in history as the third Rome and the second Constantinople. A citadel of kings and scholars, a city where history was literally written page by page, a mythical place whose walls have broken thee egos of proud Byzantine emperors.

The chroniclers of the long passed eras called it “the most inaccessible and most beautiful city in the whole Hemus” and if we made you curious or if you want to see if we are wrong somehow, let your steps take you there. Certainly, you will have all the ingredient for an unforgettable  vacation.

It is true that in recent years Bulgaria has progressed in terms of the number of tourists and the tourism industry revenues, but simply walking on Bulgarian lands to convince you that this phenomenon is not just a fluke.

About Veliko Tarnovo you cannot speak otherwise but mostly in the best of the terms and descriptions, and that’s because Bulgarians were able to sell their past in the most efficient way possible – in a positive way, obviously. It is enough to visit the former medieval Bulgarian capital and we guarantee you that you will want to get back there soon.

Grandeur and humility are contradictory terms that paradoxically define this fascinating city on the banks of the Yantra River. It seems indeed an antagonism, but perhaps this is precisely the charm of this medieval city, whose heart spreads the perfume of the old times. The grandeur of a glorious past is felt in every stone of the great Tarnovgrad, that somewhat has the aura of an old giant that your read about in legends, or, if you prefer, Tsarevets – the City of Kings – all this is harmoniously blending with the modesty and simplicity of the houses that seem to rise from the steep cliffs of one of the biggest – if not the biggest – canyons of Europe .

Since the moment you enter Veliko Tarnovo, you have the feeling you stepped back in time. Narrow, winding streets, unchanged for centuries, cafes with a specific Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek and Albanian flavor – some of them carved directly into the rock massive – houses that have been abandoned or suspended on the slope of the canyon and the fascinating artisans working in their homes with windows wide open so you can see their entire activity, all rather remind you of a forgotten past that you might think that it is possible to be brought back in full XXI century. But it exists and it keeps moving on undisturbed, and in Veliko Tarnovo almost everything there leaves you this impression.

Photo source:

Picture 1: getintravel.com; Picture 2: mytravelstock.com; Picture 3: mytravelstock.com; Picture 4: nikolatotuhov.com; Picture 5: andrey-andreev.com; Picture 6: temporatravel.com; Picture 7: commons.wikimedia.org
Apr 07

VELIKO TARNOVO – HISTORY ON LAYERS

Today we are heading towards the former capital city of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo – formerly known as Tarnovgrad. Situated in the Northern part of Bulgaria, it is one of the best-known touristic attractions in Eastern Europe. It is a city of contrasts with a glorious millenary history that is blending with contemporary influences, making it a mixture of old and new that is very much appreciated by tourists from all over the world – fact that can be easily noticed when you walk along the streets packed with ancient landmarks and modern hotels and restaurants that will lure you with delicious traditional or international dishes. The good quality of the treat also comes at an available price, so there’s another good reason to chose Veliko Tarnovo for your next holiday destination.

The place has an impressive past that is going down in history as long as five milleniums B.C., according to archaeological evidence.

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In the year 1185 it was declared the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, on the background of several independence battles lead against the Byzantine Empire. Until the 14th century, the community had encountered a great era of glory and prosperity that is still obvious to this day.

Thanks to the well-preserved ancient architecture and cultural heritage, Veliko Tarnovo has been chosen the European Capital of Culture in 2009 and the city has wonderful potential for the future, by virtue of its natural resources and carefully conserved traditions which will surely keep it in a frontrank position from now on, as well.

Before you book your tickets, you must know that, due to its special placement – alligned vertically on the slope of three hills – there are considerable diferences of temperature between summer and winter – both at the extremes -, thus, spring or fall will offer you the best occasion to visit Veliko Tarnovo. But overall, just like in all parts of the world along this latitude, the weather is great at any time of the year and it is up to the individual to chose her/his visit, according to personal preferences, as any season has its particular charm.

The three hills that shelter the buildings alligned on the surface of the slopes are called Tseravets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora and they are crossed through by the Yantra River. Also, the district is divided into several areas, known as New Town, Sveta Gora, Old Town, Tseravets and Asenova Mahala.

The misteries of the hills are far from being fully discovered, as they constantly reveal new facts and testimonies of forgotten times, when ancient sedentary cultures began to establish their first settlements on the teritory of Old Europe.

The spectacular architecture displayed on layers represents old, narrow streets paved in stone blocks, medieval monastaries and murals. Among the numerous museums that you will encounter on your travel, I would mention only a few, such as: the Museum of Archeology, Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum, the Museum of “The Bulgarian Revival and the Constituent Assembly”, The “Sarafkina House” Museum and many, many more, preserving exhibits that acknowledge the great history of the place, and even artifacts from old Egypt and Sumer, so if you are a history enthusiast, this is the place to go. Actually, the entire area is a city-sized museum that offers the visitor a sample of each epoch that has left its fingerprint on the face of the bastion.

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Asenov Mahala

Hence, from the misterious prehistoric civilizations to the better–known Roman times, the dawns of Christianity, the Ottoman menace and the contemporary economic and cultural revival, Veliko Tarnovo is definitely a must-see spot that completely deserves its name – The Great Throne (the homonimous translation of its slavic etymology) and will never cease to surprise and fascinate you with every step that you take.

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