Venue: Veliko Tarnovo, Lovech, Devetaki, Krushuna, Hotnitsa, Bojentsi, Tryavna, Arbanasi
Lens: Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4 VR – mostly using the 24mm end
Music: Wickeda – I love / Уикеда – Обичам ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzDLCLfe4Go)
In the middle of summer I made a short four-day trip to Veliko Tarnovo and some of the places nearby, which I will describe with some photos as usual. In this time of the year the temperatures in northern Bulgaria don’t fall much below 35 degrees, so it was not exactly the perfect condition for taking photos. To be fair it is probably hard to do justice to the place anyway, so I’d recommend anyone to visit it even if it doesn’t look as amazing from this post.
Veliko Tarnovo is one of these places where you can actually feel the history around you and imagine what it must have been back in the medieval times during its glory. Even if most of the main historic sites are just ruins now, the position and fortified walls of what used to be the capital of the second Bulgarian empire on Tsarevets hill are very suggestive of its former power. Together with the typical Bulgarian Renaissance architecture from the end of 19th century and the Yantra river turning around the hills, Veliko Tarnovo is easily one of the most impressive and beautiful places in Bulgaria. So here come the photos and their explanations, ordered chronologically from my trip on my way from Sofia and back.
Lovech, with its covered bridge in the city centre somewhat similar to the famous one in Florence. It is a historic small town whose economy really went down after the fall of socialism in Bulgaria. They still have some nice restaurants in the centre where I had a great tarator, the typical cold Bulgarian soup for the hot summer days.
The Devetaki cave, on the road between Lovech and Veliko Tarnovo, a strangely shaped formation in the rocks, home of thousands of bats flying around and making funny noices.
The Krushuna waterfalls, a little further down the road – they are probably much more impressive in spring, but still make a nice stop on the road to cool off in the shades of the trees around.
Already in Veliko Tarnovo – the panoramic view from one of the popular restaurants in the centre, with Yantra river and the art gallery in the middle of the picture, and one of the older parts of town on the left overlooking the sunset.
An evening walk after dinner with a view to the main (modern) church and some old houses that used to be small shops in the past judging by the sign.
Starting the city tour the next morning with a coffee on the “Samovodska charshia” – the old main market street, now a cute pedestrian area with cafes and little art and souvenir shops.
Closer to the historical sights here, but it was too hot to climb up on Tsarevets hill inside the main medieval fortress. Instead we decided to go along the Yantra river between Tsarevets and Trapezitsa, the other fortress hill on the right. The area between the two main hills of the old capital seems to have served mainly for religious purposes in the past, as there are at least around 10 churches remaining in an area of a square kilometer or so.
This is the sight of one of the main cathedrals of the past, “The Forthy Martyrs”, now completely rebuilt. The remains of one of our famous kings, tsar Kaloyan, are still standing here after 800 years in a freshly built grave.
The inside of one of the other churches nearby, “Saint George”, which is partially preserved from the medieval times.
A rebuilt copy of the “St. Demetrius” church founded 8 centuries ago by another famous Bulgarian ruler, tsar Asen. I stop with the churches now as there really are too many and you lose count quite fast.
Back to the relatively modern age – inside the “Sarafkina” house from the 19th century now turned into a museum. It obviously belonged to a very rich family that could afford a whole storey of the house just for hanging out and drinking tea. The house actually has two storeys on one side and five storeys on the other, as it is positioned on a very steep slope of one of the hills.
The view from the same house, with the Yantra river and rhe main road to Sofia passing in a tunnel underneath.
The back entrance of the archaeology museum – it made me feel like Indiana Jones stepping in some temple in the jungle.
Inside the museum – a medieval stamp that was actually worn by the Bulgarian kings as a ring, used as an old-school version of fingerprint sensors.
The museum building with a little courtyard, another example of old architecture.
Inside the former building of the national assembly nearby. This is where the Bulgarian constitution was adopted right after the independence from the Ottoman empire in 1879. I guess one can compare this place with the Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The small bar on the side of the art gallery, a cool place with a great sunset view over the town.
This evening the bar had a special event with some literature citations hanging around and had organized a stand-up comedy spot for anyone brave enough.
The next day we traveled outside town, first to the Hotnitsa waterfalls hike with cool wooden bridges and ladders over the cliffs.
Next stop was Bojentsi – a sort of open air museum. It is a mountain village preserved in time, all houses here were built in 18th and 19th century and one can take a nice tour around most the place with guides explaining you how the people lived back in the day.
The typical wooden round table and three-legged chairs that served for lunch and dinner to many generations of Bulgarians.
The stone church in Bojentsi, somewhat reminding me of the churches in the Provence in France.
On the side of the church there was a school that consisted of a single room, teaching kids from all ages together. The sign reads “Diligence brings success” in an old version of Bulgarian.
Drinking old-style Turkish coffee on the round wooden tables in Tryavna, a bigger town nearby that is very similar in spirit to Bojentsi.
More typical old houses in Tryavna, where one can also stay for the night.
Another day, starting with a coffee with view in the centre of Veliko Tarnovo.
Another typical old Bulgarian house, this time in Arbanasi village just a few kilometers away from Tsarevets hill. This was the room for drinking coffee and tea and chatting with the others.
The backyard of the same old house in Arbanasi, where one could try to escape from the summer heat in the shade of the vineyards.
An evening in town, with the view towards the lit-up Tsarevets. This photo is from the same place as the top image, so you can choose whether you prefer the sight Tsarevets at day or at night.
Another evening sight of Tsarevets, closer to the main gate of the fortress. The church on top used to also be a ruin but was rebuilt recently, with a strange green light coming out of its dome.