Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Travel Guide to Veliko Tarnovo Bulgaria

Thanks to its rich history, Veliko Tarnovo is not only one of Bulgaria's oldest towns, but it is also one of the country's most picturesque. In fact, many its visitors throughout the town's history claimed Veliko Tarnovo was second to Constantinople in terms of beauty.

Nestled under the Balkan mountain ranges of Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, Momina Krepost, and Sveta Gora the town provided a perfect location for creating an almost impenetrable barrier. In fact, this positive aspect led to Velika Tarnovo as being the capital city of Bulgaria's historical Second Kingdom during the 12th century.

  • Province: Veliko Tarnovo
  • Population: 73,115 (Year 2005)
  • Altitude: 325 Metres
  • Postcode: 5000
  • Area Code: 062
  • Geographic Coordinates: 43° 5' North, 25° 39' East
History

Dating back to 4 B.C., Velika Tarnovo offers a strong mix of Thracian, Roman, medieval Bulgarian, and Turkish cultures. In the 12th century, Velika Tarnovo's impressive military structure helped it to become a town whose role in the Bulgarian uprising against the Byzantines. During this period, its role as a military town was proven, and it had demonstrated itself worthy of being named capital city, cultural and religious centre as well.

Site Seeing

Built in 1861, the Sarafina House now houses the Ethnographical Museum. Many exhibits demonstrate the culture throughout the centuries. Artifacts from many eras are on display.

The House of the Monkey was built in the mid 1800s for a man who one of the town jokesters compared to a monkey thanks to the original owner's etched picture showing his hunched appearance. The architecture of this house is amazing and truly stands out. Impressive brickwork comprises the top two floors of the three-story house. At the top of the building is an impressive glass dome that allows plenty of light in. An antique gallery is located on the bottom floor.

Reconstructed in the 15th century, the Plakovo Monastery is an impressive sight. The 26 metre bell tower catches the eyes of many tourists. Thirty minutes away, the Kapinovo Monastery is equally breathtaking. There is also the Kilifarevo Monastery. Built in the 14th century, Kilifarevo is packed with ancient architectural detail and a number of rooms are available as hotel accommodation.

The Archaeological Museum houses artifacts from thousands of years ago. The museum's claim to fame is one of the world's oldest pieces of gold dating back to the Neolithic age.

The Museum of Modern History displays the area's situation and improvements from the late 19th century forward. Documents, photographs, paintings, and artifacts are all on display.

Located in the town centre is the statue of Mother Bulgaria, a monument dedicated to those from Veliko Tarnovo who died serving their country. The monument is popular with photographers.

One must visit Saint Atanas’ Church. The entire interior of the church is hand painted with elaborate murals dating back to 1726. It is an impressive display for people of all ages.

Samovodska Marketplace is a restored section of town where many tradesmen set up shop. Today, the storefronts are owned by area artists and craftspeople that display their talents to the public and then sell their wares to any interested purchaser.

Gurko Street is another must for those who enjoy shopping. Gurko Street is lined with sidewalk cafes, coffee houses, restaurants, and boutiques. It is an attractive street with plenty to experience.

The Lights and Sounds Show is one of only three elaborate displays in the world. A mixture of lasers, light beams, and music created by church bells are well timed playing off one another. The Lights and Sounds Show brings tourist from all over the world and should not be missed!

Tzarevetz Architectural and Museum reserve is Veliko Tarnovo's most popular tourist attraction. Built during the 12th century, the impressive castle and its walls have been restored. Excavations are held regularly and undiscovered artifacts turn up every year. The grounds are huge and require at least a day.

Accommodation

In 2003, the Izvora Hotel's on-site restaurant took Bulgaria’s Restaurant of the Year award with lamb roasted on a spit as their house specialty. The hotel offers roomy and comfortable accommodation. Twelve double rooms, two single rooms, four suites, and two studios are available for guests. There is a swimming pool, children's playground, and small petting zoo in the back of the hotel. In the solarium are a massage services, a sauna, and Jacuzzi.

The rooms at the Best Western Veliko Tarnovo are well equipped with private bathrooms with hairdryers, cable television, minibars, telephones, internet connections, and electronic entry systems. The on-site health spa has an impressive Jacuzzi with a waterfall at one end.

Four kilometres from the city centre is the hotel known as Wine Palace Arbanassi. Here guests can stay in one of the hotel's single rooms, double rooms, or guest suites. The hotel is known for its winery of which samplings are available to all guests.

With 53 double rooms, Royal Yantra is sure to meet your needs. Rooms are spacious, comfortable, and include private baths, television, telephones, Internet connections, and minibars. An on-site spa centre features Jacuzzi, sauna, massage, swimming, and sun tanning.

Industry

While tourism plays an important role in Veliko Tarnovo's economy, production plants also help bring in revenue. The area is rich in minerals ranging from quartz and limestone to clay and coal. With many mineral springs, fertile soil, and excellent highways, Veliko Tarnovo is home to one of Bulgaria's largest chemical plants. Other industries that exist in Veliko Tarnovo include companies specializing in machine tool engineering, metal processing, and then agriculture.

Veliko Tarnovo is home to Bulgaria’s second oldest university. The Veliko Tarnovo University hires a staff of over 1,200 teachers to handle the student population of 20,000.

Gastronomy

Two dishes stand out as typical cuisine in the area. Moussaka is a dish similar to Italian lasagna that layers eggplant, a b'chamel sauce spiced with nutmeg, ground lamb, and tomato sauce together. Also popular in the area are stuffed grape or cabbage leaves called Sarmi. Traditionally, Sarmi is stuffed with a mixture of onions, garlic, rice, lamb, and veal and then baked in a yoghurt sauce.

The Godfather Restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant offers traditional English breakfasts, pizza, steaks, and more. The blend of English and Mediterranean foods makes Godfather a great choice for anyone with fussy eaters.

Nightlife

A number of dance clubs, bars, pubs, and taverns accept thirsty travellers. Some of Bulgaria's hottest dance clubs can be found within Veliko Tarnovo. Scream, Organza, Planeta Payner Club, and Barcardi all pull in the local college crowd. Large dance floors, cold drinks, and fun times are waiting to be had.

Tequila Bar, Pepy'™s Bar, and Royal all serve inexpensive beer, wine, and soft drinks. Pri Lunka and City Pub serve great foods with their drinks. For taverns, try The Architect's Club or Petleto. Wines are made locally, so you will not want to miss your chance to experience Bulgarian wine.

Summary

With more than 7,000 years of history waiting to be discovered, Veliko Tarnovo offers a historian's dream vacation. There are so many buildings to explore, museums to examine, and sites to wander, you need to plan at least four days.

Better yet, with the glorious climate, gastronomical delights, and plethora to experience, why not make Veliko Tarnovo your destination for a full week of relaxation! Veliko Tarnovo is ready for you to come and share her wonders.