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Veliko Tarnovo

Location: The city is situated in the central part of the North Bulgaria and stands at 210 m altitude. It is located 242 km northeast of Sofia and 229 km southwest of Varna. The city is situated in the plains of Stara planina (The Balkan), bisected by the Yantra river and its feeders. The river forms a zigzag formation leaving behind a hill in-between its diameters. The city rises in tiers, which gives the city a specials architectural outlook.

History: Veliko Turnovo was founded at the foot of the North Balkan Range and centuries later spread on four hills – Tzarevetz, Trapezitsa, Sveta Gora and Momina Krepost. The meanders of the river Yantra were used as natural protection from enemies and the Medieval town was additionally supported by fortified walls. After the successful uprising against Byzantine domination organised and led by two brothers – Asen and Petar in 1185, Veliko Turnovo became the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. For two centures the town developed quickly and became a significant centre of culture, politics, economy and religion. During that period literature, art and crafts thrived and remarkable architectural monuments were created.

Places of Interest: The Sound-and-Light Audio-Visual show is an attraction which represents the history of the town through the means of the sound and the light. In the evenings, during the unique show, Tzarevetz hill is covered with fountains of fairy lights.
The old town of Veliko Turnovo preserves the building of the Turkish town-hall (konak) (1875), the churches 'St Konstantin and Elena' (1874), 'St. Nikola' (1841), 'St. Marina' (1850), 'St. Rojdestvo Bogorodichno' (1844), 'St. Spas' (1861); Stambolov Inn (19th century) and Stambolov bridge (1895).
Near Veliko Turnovo are situated Preobrazhenski Monastery (14th century), Patriarch's Monastery 'St. Troitsa' ('The Holy Trinity') (14th century), Petropavlovski Monastery (12th century), Kapinovski Monastery (13th century), and Kilifarevo Monastery.
Tzarevetz – The remains of the fortress, named after the hill, are now a major tourist attraction. The royal palace and the Patriarchal church were surrounded by separate fortified walls. During XII-XIV century all improtant institutions were concentrated on Tzarevetz. When the town fell under Ottoman yoke (with the help of a traitor, as it is believed) the palace and the church were burnt to the ground. Now the fortress stone walls and the three main gates are restored and many prescious remnants of the period were found.
Trapezitsa – The nobility comprised the major part of the inhabitants. Those were rich families with their own family churches. Seventeen churches have been discovered so far by archeologists. Now you can visit the famous St. Dimitar church built at the foot of the hill where the uprising against Byzantine domination was declared in 1185. It probably was the royal church until 1230 when the St. Forty Martyrs church was built.
Sveta Gora – The place was a famous religious centre with a lot of churches and monasteries where all the national festivals were carried out. Moreover, Turnovo School of Literature and Turnovo School of Art were located there. Nowadays it is again a centre of culture famous for its well-known university - Veliko Turnovo University St. Cyril and St. Methodius.
Momina Krepost
was a separate fortress inhabitted by the poorest people. Many traces of the period have been found by archeologists – remnants of fortress walls, gates, towers, buildings, coins and different everyday objects.
Asenova mahala – The quarter is situated on both banks of the river Yantra between Trapezitsa and Tzarevetz. This picturesque quarter was a part of the so-called "new" town of the medieval capital and it still exists in all its beauty. One of the most important churches are St. Dimitar church, St. Forty Martyrs church, St. George church, St. Peter and St. Paul (12th century).
A sightseeing tour should also include Samovodska Charshia (Trade Street) - the place where many craftsmen work using the original technologies and tools of the past. Many of the houses and the workshops in the street are fully restored today. This place is one of the very few in Bulgaria, where the atmosphere of the Bulgarian Renaissance street has been preserved almost intact.
Now the old Trade Street is an architectural-ethnographic complex. Close to it are 'Kashtata s maimunkata' (the House with the monkey) (1849), 'Sarafkina House' with an ethnographic exhibition and Hadji Nikoli's Inn (1858).

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