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Landmarks in Veliko Turnovo

Landmarks in Veliko Turnovo

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The Tsarevets Hill Archaeological Reserve in the eastern part of the modern town - the fortified wall, which in combination with the natural endowments, provided safety of the institutions which were of the greatest importance for the Bulgarian state, is restored. The so-called Baldwin Tower in which Tsar Kaloyan confined the Latin Emperor Baldwin after his capture during the defeat of the Crusaders in 1205 near Odrin rises in its most southern part. One of the most interesting sites is the Palace of Bulgarian Tsars representing an independent fortress situated on the area of 4872 square metres. The most impressive premises in the Palace were the Throne Hall and St. Petka Palace Church. The Palace whose building was expanded several times during the 13th and the 14th century, was completely destroyed after the town fell under Ottoman Rule.

The second largest architectural complex of Tsarevets is Bulgarian Patriarchy. The Patriarchal complex rose at the highest place, above the Tsars Palace. It occupied an area of about 3000square metres, shaped as an individual fortress in the shape of an irregular polygon. The Lords Ascension Patriarchal Church with a belfry tower - a phenomenon scarcely met in the ecclesiastical architecture on the Balkans rose in the centre of the yard. The excavated foundations of residential buildings and churches along the steep slope of Tsarevets, east and south of the Patriarchy, forming a little quarter of the Medieval town are of a special interest. A big boyar settlement north of Tsarevets was studied, too which with its architectural pattern is the prototype of Bulgarian Revival house. One of the most valuable Medieval Bulgarian monuments - Forty Holy Martyrs Church is situated at the western foothill of Tsarevets Hill, near the river. It was erected by order of Tsar Ivan Assen II in honour of his great victory over the Byzantines at Klokotnitsa on 22nd March 1230. During the 18th century the Turks turned it into a mosque but a part of the valuables contained in it are still preserved. Thus, for instance, the three preserved stone columns - Assens, Omourtags and the one from the Rodosto Fortress are of an exceptional importance to historical science and prove the succession in the Bulgarian statehood.

Tsar Kaloyans grave and his golden 61-gram ring-seal were found during excavation works in the 1970-ies. The St. St. Peter and Pavel Church rises at the foothill of the northern slope of Tsarevets - the only better preserved church from Medieval Turnovgrad. After the town succumbed to Ottoman Rule the Bulgarian Patriarchy and the whole Patriarchal library was moved to it. The last Bulgarian Patriarch - Evtimii served in this church for about two years before being sent in exile.

Tsarevets Hill finishes in its north-eastern end with a strongly protruding over the Yantra River Lobna Skala (Rock at the place of death) from which traitors were thrown down.

The Trapezitsa Hill is related to the earliest manifestations of the Bulgarian rulers in the 12th century. In 1185 the St. Dimitur Solunski Church was built in the outskirts of the hill and during its consecration the brothers Assen and Peter proclaimed the Uprising against the Byzantine invaders. It was a royal church up to the year 1230 and Assen, Peter and Kaloyan were crowned in it. Here on 7th November 1204 Archbishop Vassilii was promoted to the rank of Patriarch of Bulgarian church. The church was shown mercy after Turnovo fell under Ottoman Rule. A lot of fighters for spiritual and national liberation were buried in its courtyard during the 19th century. The church was almost completely destroyed during the second half of the 19th century. The St. Georgi Church is also situated in the eastern outskirts of the hill. It was erected in 1612 in the place of a destroyed Medieval Bulgarian church. The most interesting things in it are the mural paintings whose unknown author had shown himself as a follower of the best traditions of Turnovo School of Painting. A lot of dwellings of boyars were found during excavation works and there was a little family church in nearly each of them.

In 1195 by an order of Tsar Ivan Assen I, the relics of St. Ivan Rilski were rested in a monastery located on the hill. The relics of the St. Gavrail Lesnovski were moved by Tsar Kaloyan to the Holy Apostles Church located on the same hill.

The quarter on the two sides of the river between Tsarevets and TrapezitsaHills where the 4 valuable historical churches are located (St. Dimitur Solunski, St. Georgi, Forty Holy Martyrs and St. St. Peter and Pavel) is called �senova Mahala (Assens quarter) and constituted the fundamental part of the so-called external town. It originated during the reign of Tsar Ivan Assen II (1218-1241).

Sveta Gora is the third hill of the Metropolis Turnovgrad. It rises south of Tsarevets and it was a cultural and spiritual centre of the Bulgarian State in Medieval times. There were a lot of churches and monasteries here. The Turnovo Literary School and the Turnovo School of Painting developed a versatile and vivacious activity in the biggest of the monasteries - Holy Virgin Odigitriya. Here the Titans of the Medieval Bulgarian spirit - Patriarch Evtimii and Teodosii Turnovski did creative works here. Today the buildings of St. St. Cyril and Methodius Veliko Turnovo University rise on the place of the monastery.

After Veliko Turnovo fell under Ottoman Rule the town started to expand to the west little by little. Predominantly Turks settled down along the hills of Tsarevets and Trapezitsa and predominantly Bulgarians settled down in the new quarters. Construction of a lot of new private and public buildings commenced with the growing economic prosperity of the Bulgarians during the Revival period, a great part of which still adorn the Old town (between the hills of Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora, separated from them through the meanders of the Yantra River).

The self-educated Bulgarian architect and builder Master Kolyu Ficheto greatly contributed in this respect. He created several of them - the Konak (police station) (1872), related to a lot of historical events (to the interrogation of the captured Levski in 1872, to the Turkish court trial of the revolutionaries Bacho Kiro, Tsanko Dyustabanov, Georgi Izmirliev, Ivan Semerdzhiev, Ekim Tsankov and others in 1876, to the welcoming of the Russian liberators in 1877, to the Constituent Assembly in 1879 and the First Great National Assembly convened during the same year, to the decision for the acknowledgement of the Union in 1885). The Inn of Hadzhi Nikola (1858), one of the most interesting architectural monuments of the Revival period.  The St. St. Cyril and Methodius Church (1861), St. Spas (Ascension) Church (1862-1863) and St. Konstantin and St. Elena Church (1872), as well as the House with the Monkey (1849, in the centre of the town), taking its name form the sitting monkey placed above the ground floor with an inscribed sign plate under it. The Museum of the Second Bulgarian State is located near the Konak. The home of Petko R. Slaveikov. The St. Nikola Church (1836) during whose construction Kolyu Ficheto worked as an apprentice. The prison-museum (1862) where a lot of freedom-loving Bulgarians were sent, among them Levski, Philip Totyu, Stefan Karadzha, Bacho Kiro. The house of Kokona (Grand Lady) Anastassia (of the end of the 18th century. Stambolovs Inn (was owned by Stefan Stambolovs family, the rebellious Captain Dyado Nikola worked here, too). The monument to Velcho Conspiracy in the square of the same name. Gourko Street with a lot of Revival Period houses in it adds romantic atmosphere to the Old Town. Built steeply above the river, it seems as if they have perched one over the other. One of the most beautiful buildings in this street is Sarafkins House (Money-changers) (1861).

 The Art Gallery (tel.: 062 38951) and the monuments to the Assens Dynasty in front of it are located on a picturesque peninsula (Borouna), rising above the Yantra River. There are a lot of other interesting old houses, public buildings, squares, dozens of monuments, too. It is difficult to describe Veliko Turnovo, it is worth seeing with ones own eyes!


The street has carried through the ages the atmosphere of the Revival town. The 18th - 19th cc. houses rise above one another on the rocky banks of Yantra river and look at its waters like in a mirror. The cosy cafes and the small restaurants, the art galleries and the ethnographic exhibition make the meeting with the past very romantic


 There are many monuments in Veliko Tarnovo, dedicated to historical events and personalities. Just in the centre of the town, in the small square is the monument to the Fallen of the Wars of (1877- 78; 1885; 1912-13 and 1915-17), knows as the Monument to Mother Bulgaria. On the highest point of the monument is an allegorical figure representing Bulgaria (a women kneeling on the ground with flag of battle in her right hand and an olive branch in her left). At the base of the monument an eternal fire is being kept in honor of the fallen of the wars for Liberation.


The complex consist of restored National Revival and post-Liberation houses. The workshops functioning in the Samovodska charshiya make and sell souvenirs, produced after old methods. They reproduce ancient, mediaval and Revival examples of the museum's rich expositions and collections. On the sguare of Samovodska charshiya is the house of the famous Bulgarian writer Emilian Stanev, a museum-house now, In the beginning of the street is the monument to Stefan Stambolov - one of the most prominent Bulgarian statesmen at the end of the 19th century.


The Dryanovo Monastery "St. Archangel Michael"The Dryanovo Monastery "St. Archangel Michael" is situated in the picturesque gorge of the Dryanovo River, 4 km from the city of Dryanovo, where the high limestone cliffs fence In the defile. According to the Byzantine chronicler Nikita Choniat, the monastery was built by the insurgent Turnovo boyars, the brothers Asen and Peter, in honour of the Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelus.

Initially it was built 2 km to the north of the present-day one in the "Little St. Archangel" area. In the 14th century it was inhabited by a great number of monks and it was one of the main centres of Hesychastism. After its destruction during the Ottoman invasion, it was restored at a new location - in the area known today by the name "Big St. Archangel". But this second monastery was also pillaged and burned down by the Turks.

The monastery was built at its present place in the late 17th century. The cathedral, situated immediately to today's one, was small, one-nave, half-underground. There was a second one, probably a winter church, dedicated to the Assumption. In the 1840s, in the time of Abbot Rafail, the renovation of the monastery began. Two-floor residential buildings were erected along the river arch, and in 1845 Master Gen-cho Belchev built a new cathedral.

He applied in the architectonics of the facades many artistic elements introduced by Nikola Fichev. In 1 925 above the open narthex of the church was erected a well-proportioned belfry, consistent with the spirit of the National Revival

and Nikola Fichev's creative views. In the collection of the preserved icons from the National Revival period, the style of the Tryavna school is apparent. In the second half of the 19th century the Dryanovo Monastery was one of the largest and well-arranged monasteries in the Tarnovo area, a religious and cultural centre of the Bulgarians from that part of the country.

The Dryanovo monks took an active part in the revolutionary struggles for the liberation from Ottoman domination. The monastery was one of the chief quarters of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee in Tarnovo, and Vasil Levski, Matey Preobrazhenski, Georgi Izmirliev often stayed there. During the April Uprising 1876 Father Hariton and teacher Bacho Kiro turned the monastery into their fortress, wich led to its torching by the Turkish troops. The church alone was preserved more or less intact.

The restoration of the monastery began as far back as ] 878, immediately after the Liberation, by the old Master Gencho Belchev in association with Master Georgi Genev. A new piligrim wing was erected upon the old stone walls, with vast balconies, abbot's headquarters, visitors' rooms and monks' cells. At the place of the destroyed church from 1861, a museum monument was built, composed of a chapel with an ossuary, and a pyramid-shaped monument with a statue symbolysing The Rebel. The statue was made in Rome by Luka Ardini. The consecration took place on May 4, 1 897 by Tarnovo Metropolitan Vasil Drumev.

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