Let me tell you a story, my friends…
Once upon a time, there was a great kingdom called Bulgaria. Many years ago, our country was spreading among three seas and glorious battle victories were celebrated on the streets of the cities. Most of the Bulgarians are really proud of our history, same as me. Perhaps one of the most remarkable periods of our time was the 2nd Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396). In that time, our country was not only the most powerful on the Balkans, but also important with its trade routes from Asia to Europe and the scientific and cultural center of the Old continent. Huge buildings, monuments and churches were built during these ages. And the main city that shined most was the capital, my home town – Veliko Turnovo.
If you just google Veliko Turnovo, many articles will appear like this one from BrightSide describing it as a heavenly place to live. Surely, one of the most visited places in Bulgaria, the administrative and cultural center of North Bulgaria captivate tourists from all around the globe. Every year, more than 1 million visitors walk up on the hills of the city. And there are some main reasons why Turnovo is one of their favorite destinations…
Best Time to Visit? 22nd of March!
Absolutely no doubt that this is the right time to do it! The country celebrates the Day of Veliko Turnovo on this date for many years and it is a true holiday for all the Bulgarians. Thousands of people fill in the hotels, restaurants and bars for 3 consecutive days and transform the city into a festival. It also marks unofficially the astronomical spring and gives the start of the sunny days.
BONUS: Actually, it doesn’t matter at which time of the year you will come. Veliko Turnovo is beautiful during the whole year!
You Don’t Need A Map of The Town
Turnovo is not a big city if compared to Sofia or Varna. And people love that fact. Still, the biggest disadvantage of the town is the lack of closed city center walk zone. At least on 22nd of March the main street is closed for cars and you can see a swarm of people on it. Despite this fact, all visitors enjoy the way from Mother Bulgaria square to St. 40 Holy Martyrs monastery. You are literally walking through the ages and history. The city administration has well-kept the Old Town view and not allowed big buildings to uglify the city. Maybe the most remarkable part of it is the Gurko street – named by the Russian General Gurko, who liberated our city on 7th of July 1877. I think this photo from our friends Veliko Turnovo in Details sums up all you need to know about this place…
Cheap as F**K!
Seriously, you won’t pay more than 50-60€ for 2 nights if you decide to give up from luxury. There are more than 30 house guests and two-star hotels near the center part of the city with a cosy double bedroom. Most of them are available on TripAdvisor or Booking.com. When it comes to food, the average price for a couple in a restaurant varies between 10-15€. You will be delighted with the meals (of course, you are in Bulgaria after all) and the service in most cases. In the evening, if you decide to spend your time in a bar or a disco in the city, be careful where you go! There are some places with the most faked alcohol you will ever drink, but some offer a good quality alcohol at a good price. I recommend Sammy’s bar, which has a good location near the main part and nice music.
The Fortress of Greatness
The symbol of Veliko Turnovo – Tsarevets hill. Once, this place used to be the administrative center of the city and the fortress was the main building during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Very typical for the constructions, churches and monasteries during this period of time, was they to be built on high grounds and hills. This protects from eventual war or a battle and the enemy army can’t reach the gates and the citizens. Tsarevets has a long history of different kings, who ruled the Bulgarian Kingdom from the Asenevtsi Dynasty to the last one – Tsar Ivan Shishman. If you miss to visit this place, it’s like you’ve never been to Veliko Turnovo. The amazing view from the top will remain in your memories as long as you are alive. Nowadays, Tsarevets still captivates the tourists with the most stunning show called Sound and Light. You can see a video from it here.
Trapezitsa – Another Jewel In the Crown
If you are already near Tsarevets, you should consider taking a walk on the hills of Trapezitsa. Another fortress where after many years of renovation, were found 19 foundations of churches and many other artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages. Now, with significant domestic and international financial investments, the place is ready to welcome its visitors. A new wall, new alleys and suitable infrastructure was constructed so tourists to enter the museum of Trapezitsa.
Go Deep Into the History
Another reason to visit Veliko Turnovo on 22nd of March is that you don’t have to pay admission fee in the museums. If you are really interested in the rich history of our great country, the Archeological museum and the Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and Constituent Assembly will show you Bulgaria in a way you haven’t seen her before. Go to the official website and get more information about it.
A Temple To Be Remembered
The celebrations of the biggest events and holidays in Bulgaria start from the St. 40 Holy Martyrs church including the Day of Liberty, the Day of Independence and the Day of Veliko Turnovo. All of the main celebrities in the country such as the President and Ministers every year visit the city to pay a tribute to the fallen. The church has played an important role during the Ottoman ruling, because it has kept most of the orthodox writings and important historical and cultural books. Many donors, philanthropists, architects and historians invested time and money to renovate the church so it can look marvelous like now.
Samovodska charshia – Where the Real Entrepreneurs Are Born
No, this is not the Department of the new born babies. This is the street of the best artisans and craftsman. The name of the place is named after a group of women from the near village Samovodene, who placed their rugs on the rocks to sell their products back in the XIX century. Charshia means bazaar – a place where people gather and trade different stuff. It used to be the most visited and important point of the city. Now, if you walk down the street you will find some stunning handmade pieces of art from wooden figures to typical Bulgarian clothes and more.
The Monument of Our Forefathers
This place symbolizes the power of the great kings Asen, Petar, Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II. It is well-known from all turnovtsi and an amazing place, where you can take a look towards the Old Town part of the city. Also, Turnovo quite recently implemented the idea, where you can put your love lock on our Stamboliiski bridge as they do in many, many cities around the world
BONUS: Bungee jumping is very popular attraction on this bridge
Don’t miss to take a selfie from Bishop’s bridge with the amazing background of Tsarevets Hill 😉
Aaand if you still can’t find YOUR reason why to visit Veliko Turnovo, this documentary movie about the city might change your mind 🙂
P.S: If this can’t, consider going to a doctor!
I’d like to thank Veliko Turnovo in Detail for their stunning photos and keep showing our beautiful town to the world!