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Veliko Tarnovo or Great Tarnovo is famous for its three- walled citadel
called Tsarevets in the middle of this historic city. Ruins of over 400 houses, 18 churches and
partially reconstructed palace are still visible today. Capital of the
Bulgarian Kingdom Tsarevets was home to Bulgarian kings between 1185 and
1393. You can take taxi, bus (20, 400, 110) or simply walk to the
fortress that is clearly visible. From April to September it is open
and from October till March it is open
Location: Asenova Quarter
Tel. 062 636 828
Entrance Fee: 6lv, student 2lv, elevator 2lv
Open: 9am- 5pm Nov- March
8am- 6pm Apr-Oct
show 8pm- 8:30pm
Entrance Fee: Adult 4 lv, child 2lb
History of Veliko Tarnovo
Tarnovo or Tarnovgrad as it was known through much of its history, is
one of the oldest sites settlement sites in
Bulgaria. Remains of human occupation date as early as 3rd millennium
BC on Trapezitsa Hill. Thracian tribes and later Ancient Romans used
Tsarevets Hill as a base for their military operations in the region.
Tsarevets Hill sees expansive construction
beginning 5th century AD during rule of the Byzantine Empire.
By the 12th century
it becomes a major political, religious and economic centre of the
country. In fact brothers Asen and Peter proclaim here independence from
the Byzantine rule and turn it into their capital in 1185, thus
became the capital of the
Kingdom under the name of Tarnovgrad or Tarnov City in Bulgarian. One of the notable prisoners of the castle was Baldwin I, the first
emperor of Latin Empire with its capitol in
Constantinople, after its fall in 1204 to the Fourth Crusade. Defeated and imprisoned
by czar Kaloyan he was kept in
until his death. Causes and methods are largely obscure and unknown, but
the legend tells that
I tried to seduce Kaloyan’s wife and instead was thrown from the
Execution Rock. Following the left wall upon entering the fortress you
can see it for yourself. Many criminals and enemies of the czar ended
their lives here.
Veliko Tarnovo expanded and flourished for over two centuries until Ottoman
invasion that sacked Bulgaria and all of Balkan Peninsula. City fell to Turkish forces on
17 July 1393
after three month of bloody siege. However it remained a powerful symbol of former
glory and it is not surprising that even ruins inspired Bulgarians to
fight for their freedom. Several rebellions against Ottoman rule broke
out in Veliko Tarnovo including two major uprisings that started here. One
1598 (First Tarnovo Uprising) and another in 1686 (Second Tirnovo
Uprising). Unfortunately both failed to achieve independence for
Bulgaria. It was not until Russo- Turkish was of 1877- 78 and arrival of Russian
army on 7 July 1877 under leadership of general Joseph Vladimirovich
Gourko then city got its independence back.
April 17, 1879
the first National Assembly presiding in
Veliko Tarnovo ratified the first constitution of the newly
liberated state that came to be known as Tarnovo Constitution.
Ironically the same Assembly decided to move capital from Veliko Tarnovo
to Sofia, but tzar Ferdinand Saxe- Coburg Gotha paying homage to the
ancient capital of
Veliko Tarnovo and chose to proclaim final independence of the state here
in church of St. Forty Martyrs on October 5, 1908.
Veliko Tarnovo Main Sights
Veliko Tarnovo Royal Palace
Veliko Tarnovo Royal Palace
of the Bulgarian czars was originally it covered over 4500 sq meters. It was
the center of the Bulgarian Kingdom from where 22 Bulgarian kings ruled
over extensive empire. Medieval masters apparently used ancient Roman
stones, bricks and columns from much older Roman ruins. Recently Veliko
Tarnovo Palace saw major reconstruction. Historians and archaeologists
worked hard to recreate the appearance of the medieval building. It is
hard to say how well they accomplished it, but the site lost certain
degree of its authenticity.
Veliko Tarnovo main church
Veliko Tarnovo church on top of the hill. Although the structure is historically
accurate interior frescoes scare tourist with its avant-garde scenes.
Veliko Tarnovo Baldwin Tower
Veliko Tarnovo "Baldwin
tower" got its name from a fact that it is a place where king of
Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem Baldwin I was kept after his imprisoment.
It was here where he also died. Current struction was reconstructed in
the second half of the 20th century.
Veliko Tarnovo Execution Rock
Rock in the corner of the castle. This was the last thing condemned saw
on the long way down.