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Surrounding areas of Veliko Turnovo

The village of Arbanassi - Architecture and Historical Reserve located at the distance of 4 km north-east of Veliko Turnovo. Its flourishing as a trade and craftsmens centre was during the 16th to the 18th century when the monumental houses and churches with a rich interior decoration, woodcarvings and mural paintings were built. These are unique monuments of our architectural and artistic heritage. The Arbanassi type of houses may be defined as dwellings - fortresses. The most interesting are Konstantsalievs House (housing a museum collection), Hadzhiilievs House, Kandilarovs House, Nikolchokostovs House and others. The following churches deserve special attention, too - Birth of the Holly Son Church, Archangel Michail and Gavrail Church, St. Atanas Church, St. George Church. Arbanassi is the birthplace of Ilarion Dragostinov, chief apostle of the Sliven Revolutionary District in the April Uprising. One can find accommodation here at: the Arbanassi Palace Hotel, the Arbus Hotel & Tavern, the Raiski Kut (Paradise Corner) Hotel & Tavern, Konstantin and Elena Hotel Complex, Bolyarska Kushta (Boyars House) Hotel & Tavern and others. There is a taxi service running every 30 to 40 minutes between Gorna Oryahovitsa and Veliko Turnovo passing by the road fork for the village (1km).

The Preobrazhensky Monastery is situated at the distance of 6 to 7 km north of Veliko Turnovo, under the inaccessible sheer rocks of the left bank of the Yantra River. It flourished during the 14th century. It was repeatedly ruined and destroyed by fire during the years of Ottoman Rule and rebuilt in the first half of the 19th century. One of the most remarkable monuments of Bulgarian Revival Period architecture and iconography. It includes 4 churches. The Central Transfiguration Church was started to be built by Master Dimitur Sofialiyata (of Sofia) who was hanged because of his participation in Velchos Conspiracy (1835). Master Kolyu Ficheto completed it. It was painted by Zakhari Zograph (the Icon-painter), two of his compositions being of a particularly high artistic value - Doomsday (on the whole eastern wall of the nartnex) and the Wheel of Life (on the southern outside wall). The wood-carved iconostasis and the iconostasis icons, work of masters form Tryavna are remarkable, too. The masterpiece of the painter of the Revival Period Stanislav Dospevski - St. Apostle Andrei is exhibited here as well.

The next Annunciation Church was built by the Master Kolyu Ficheto and Stanislav Dospevski painted the icons. Dimitar Sofialiyata built the little underground St. Andrei Church, and the icons were painted by the unique icon-painter and wood-carver Papa Vitan, one of the most eminent representatives of the Tryavna School of Art. The last of the monastery churches is Lazars Ascension Church (of 1891), whose icons were painted by the citizen of Tryavna Ivancho Kunchev. A bell tower with a clock built by Kolyu Ficheto (1860) rises in the courtyard of the monastery. The largest bell was a gift by the Russian Emperor Alexander II for the services of the monastery as a Russian military hospital during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. Matei Preobrazhnski - Mitkaloto (the Wanderer), Pop (Priest) Hariton, Father Zotik lived and worked in the monastery. Vassil Levski, Angel Kunchev, Philip Totyu, Stefan Stambolov, Georgi Izmirliev found a safe shelter here. There is a regular bus to the motorway and it is about a 30 to 40-minute walk from there.

One of the oldest monasteries around Veliko Turnovo - Sveta Troitsa Monastery (The Holy Trinity) is located on the right bank of Yantra River opposite the Preobrazhenski Monastery. It originated about the year 1070. It was called Assens, Shishmans (after Bulgarian tsars), Patriarchs Monastery. It is related to the literary activities of Monk Evtimii up to his election as a Patriarch in 1375. Having returned back to Bulgaria from the Sveta Gora Monasteries on Athos in 1371, he settled down here and created the renowned literary school known as the Turnovo School. This School developed the great spelling reform and established the language standards. Master Kolyu Ficheto erected the present Monastery Church in 1847.

It can be reached by bus and on foot from Veliko Turnovo and from the village of Samovodene or along a picturesque track under the rocks of the Yantra River in about a 2-hours walk from the town.

Teodosii Turnovski founded The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Kilifarevo Monastery (at the distance of 17 km south of Veliko Turnovo and 4 km south-east from the town of Kilifarevo) in 1348-1350 with the generous help of Tsar Ivan Alexander. Solid stone walls surrounded it. It was a centre of Hesychasm (Medieval religious doctrine teaching that unity with God could be achieved through quietness and solitude) and a centre of education and literature. Over 400 disciples of the first teacher Teodosii Turnovski were taught there. It was repeatedly ruined and destroyed by fire during the years of Ottoman Rule. Its last restoration commenced about the year 1830, Master Kolyu Ficheto taking an active participation. Under his hands were erected the residential part of the building and St. Dimitur Church (1844). The wood-carved iconostasis of the church is a genuine piece of art, joint work of Kolyu Ficheto and S. Marangozina.

There is regular bus transport from Veliko Turnov�and the nearest railway station is Debelets (at the distance of 10 km north).

The Lyaskovski Monastery is at the distance of 6 km north-west of the Old Metropolis town and at the distance of 3 km south-west of the town of Lyaskovets. It is situated on a high inaccessible rock on the Arbanassi Hill. Its remote history is based on legends and traditions. It is related most of all to the struggles for national liberation - uprisings, detachments of armed volunteers, conspiracies. Vassil Levski, Matei Preobrazhenski, Hristo Ivanov - Golemiya (the Big), Bacho Kiro and others often came here from 1869 to 1871. The monastery provided shelter to the revolutionaries during the preparation of the April Uprising. Ilarion Makariopolski opened the first ecclesiastic school (St. St. Peter and Pavel School of Theology) here in 1874, the first lecturer in it being Nedyu Zhekov. Archbishop Kliment Branitski (Vassil Droumev), Sofronii Vrachanski, Georgi S. Rakovski and a lot of other peoples enlighteners are connected with this School. In 1877-1878 the Slavonic Charity Committee set up an orphanage with the monastery for all those who had suffered from the Ottoman ferocities during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, Dobri Voinikov being appointed as its Manager.

There is an asphalt road to the monastery from Lyaskovets, Veliko Turnovo and Arbanassi. It takes not more than an hour walk from Lyaskovets and 45 minutes from Arbanassi.

Accommodation against minimal fees can be found in all above mentioned monasteries.

Nikopolis Ad Istrum (at the distance of 18 km north of Veliko Turnovo and at the distance of 3 km south-east of the village of Nikyup) - ruins of the majestic Roman town founded by Emperor Trayan at the beginning of the 2nd century AD in honour of his victory over the Dacians. Deep moats and high stone walls surrounded it. A forum (square), straight and wide streets, temples of Roman, Greek and Eastern Gods, white-stone private and public buildings were found there during archaeological excavation works. The town was provided with sewerage and water-supply systems. An enormous water pipeline, 26 km in length, supplied abundant mountain spring water from the cave near the village of Moussina. Veterans, big land-owners, merchants and craftsmen who had come from different parts of the Roman Empire - Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, inhabited the town. Nikopolis Ad Adstrum was one of the biggest trade centres of Lower Moesia. Over 900 kinds of colonial coins were minted here. A network of stone roads connected it with the other Roman centres in Moesia and Thrace. A Roman marble statue of the God of Love - Eros, a bronze head of Emperor Gordian III (238-244), architectural details, statuettes, inscriptions and others were found here, too. Most imposing is the sculpture of the God of Medicine  Ascleteus  1.83 m man-high statue, weighing about 800 kg, which is now kept at the Museum of Archaeology in Veliko Turnovo.

The ancient town reached its zenith during the 2nd-4th centuries. It existed up to the beginning of the 7th century when the Avars destroyed it.

A Bulgarian settlement was set up here during the 10th century, which survived through the Middle Ages but was of secondary significance. It was not mentioned during the years of Ottoman Rule.

There is  regular bus transport to the village of Nikyup.

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