The first time I visited Veliko Tarnovo, it was a cold and cloudy day of March. At that time, I knew almost nothing about Bulgaria, and the few hours spent in this town did not stir up my curiosity to discover more. I visited Tsarevets and lied in a café, looking at the martenitsas (pieces of decoration in red and white) hanging in a tree.
This year, at the invitation of some friends, I had been visiting Veliko Tarnovo for two days, in a time the winter was farewell, and the shy sunrays were wrapping the city in a warm light. I fell in love with this city, which I rediscovered while walking here and there. I liked the Varusha neighborhood with its cobbled alleys, framed by typical Bulgarian houses dating back to the nineteenth century, as well as the streets of Samovodska charshia and Gurko. I entered in the traditional Bulgarian art stores on Samovodska charshia in search of souvenirs and I walked, not only once, on Gurko street, my favorite one. Situated on a slope along the Yantra River, Gurko street with its traditional houses offers a delightful panorama over the ancient city and the Asenevtsi Monument. Sarafkina (The House of Sarafina), the most famous house on this street, dating from 1861, can be visited from Tuesday to Saturday in exchange for 6 leva. The Asenevtsi monument, call by the locals the „Horsemen,” consists of a giant sward with 4 kings on horses – Asen, Petar, Kaloyan and Ivan-Asen II from the Asen dynasty. The ensemble was built in 1985 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and the proclaiming of Veliko Tarnovo for its capital.
The town is guarded by Tsarevets fortress, that reminds about the magnificence of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396). Do not miss a visit here, because you will find an important part of Bulgaria’s history in a spectacular place. If you do not have a guide, you will find precious information on a panel located at the entrance. Entrance ticket: 6 leva. In the evening, when it gets dark, visitors can enjoy an impressive light show. The program is here. For example, on 5, 9 and 24 May 2019 the entry is free.
The newest attraction in the city is the „Mini Bulgaria” park, opened in September 2017. Do you want to see Bulgaria’s iconic tourist attractions in a few hours? A walk through this park will satisfy your curiosity at the price of 10 leva. More details can be found here.
Trapezitza is another new attraction in Veliko Tarnovo. It’s a funicular that takes you to a hill where you can find the ruins of a fortress dating back to the 13th century. In case you prefer to get on your own feet, a very demanding trail is the best way to stay fit.😁
The hiking enthusiasts can admire the nature of Sveta Gora and Ksilifor parks, and the history and art hobbyists can visit the Art Gallery, Museum of National Revival & Constituent Assembly – housed in the building where the first Free Bulgaria Parliament adopt a new constitution, the Holy Forty Martyrs Church (UNESCO heritage) – built in 1230, houses some of the most emblematic monuments of the historical memory of Bulgaria, the Archeology Museum, etc.
- Veliko Tarnovo is situated about 180 km from Bucharest and 222 km from Sofia;
- From 1185 until 1966 it was called Turnovgrad;
- One of the oldest Bulgarian universities operates in the city;
- Veliko Tarnovo was originally built on three hills: Tserevets, Sveta Gora and Trapezitsa.
- Cafes and restaurants offer varied, traditional and international menus at reasonable prices.