May 03

Tseravets Fortress (Fortareata Tseravets)

This fortress is located on Tseravets Hill (which explains the name of the fortress) and it was actually the first citadel under the Second Bulgarian Empire – The Second Bulgarian Empire was the most powerful state in the southeastern part of the European continent for 2 centuries (from the 1185 until 1393).

The citadel, which was erected on the foundations of a former Byzantine construction, held within its walls the royal residence and patriarchal palaces. But the original construction (the Byzantine one) has been constructed between the 5th and the 7th centuries.


The structure of the keep consisted of walls, which measure 10 feet in thickness, and of 3 gates. The main entrance to the citadel was found on the western part of the edifice, whilst the second one was located at a 60-feet distance from the first one. As it has been mentioned there was a third gate as well but this was demolished after 1889.

Tseravets Fortress is actually an ensemble of fortified edifices. The royal residence has in its turn a fortified wall through which access is done by means of two gates (on the northern and on the southern parts). The structure of this palace, which measures 4872 square meters, comprises two towers, a throne room and a church.


The Patriarchal Palace is impressive through its stature. It is extremely elevated, pointing toward the sky. In 1981, when Bulgaria celebrated 1300 years since the state took form, the edifice was restored. The painting work occurred in 1985 as a way to celebrate the liberation of Vizantia. The paintings were illustrative of different medieval times in the history of Bulgaria.

The archeological discoveries concluded that the hills were originally the site of residential neighborhoods, as the number of edifices found on the site exceeded 420: the number of dwellings calculated surpassed 400, while 18 were churches.


The restoration work for Tseravets Fortress was initiated in 1930 and was carried on for a great number of years. In 1930, the first gate was restored, together with the Baldwin Tower. The fortification located at the top of the ensemble of buildings did not receive any mending until 1981. But the decoration of this edifice was done 4 years later.

But even if the entire project seems to have been quite strenuous, what counts is the result, and that is that the edifice has been preserved more or less to its original look. And this means that tourists can gaze on the medieval fortification. (However, there are actually divergences in terms of the fortification having been remodeled according to the initial plan. Scientists are actually adamant in their conclusion that the ensemble was transformed during restoration).


Today, visitors can barely recognize what was once a monastery (dating from the 12th century). The remains of this edifice are found next to the fortified walls, but not much can be made of them. In the northern part of the ensemble, visitors can see the remains of another monastery, this one dating from the 13th century. An important attraction is the so-called Execution Rock, named this way due to the purpose for which it had been used. Traitors of the Empire were forced to ascend the rock from whence they were pushed into the river below, the Yantra.

It is truly amazing how you seem to traverse time and enter into a totally different period. Whilst some of the edifices have been badly or completely ruined by the passage of time, as well as by the hand of man, there are sites which still recall of the glorious days of the medieval city.