”The City of Tsars”.
Where is Veliko Tarnovo?
The city of Veliko Tarnovo is in north central Bulgaria.
Sited on the Yantra River. Surrounded by beautiful landscape, sits the old town with its unique architecture is located on three hills. Tsarevets, Taapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, all of which rise amidst the meandering Yantra River. Famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.
Our journey from Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo was by bus.
During our time in Veliko Tarnovo, we chose to stay at the Airbnb Home with a view.
A charming bed & breakfast on the outskirts of the city.
Places of interest
The old town is a collection of traditional renaissance houses scattered over the hills along the Yantra River. Whilst the newer part of town consists of a mixture of former Soviet bloc and modern style buildings.
On Tsarevets are the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, together with the Patriarchal Cathedral, which are all surrounded by defensive walls. Trapezitsa has many churches and was the former main residence of the Bulgarian nobility. In 2019 the city was deemed the inescapable symbol of Veliko Târnovo, this reconstructed fortress dominates the skyline and is one of Bulgaria’s most beloved monuments.
Watch your step there are lots of potholes, broken steps, and unfenced drops.
One of Bulgaria’s most adored monuments is Tsarevets Fortress. The medieval stronghold commands a prominent position on Tsarevets hill. The impressive fortress dominates the skyline of Veliko Tarnovo. The seat of power for the medieval tsars, it houses the remains of more than 400 houses, 18 churches, the royal palace, and an execution rock.
Access to the fortress is via a cobbled walkway, off Tsar Asen I Square. This walkway together with most around this monument is uneven and contains potholes. On the top of the hill within the fortress, complex is the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God.
The Ascension Cathedral
The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God is a former Eastern Orthodox cathedral. Sited on top of the fortified Tsarevets hill, the cathedral was the seat of the Bulgarian patriarch from its construction in the 11th – 12th century to its destruction in 1393.
Entry to the Cathedral is free, but there is a small charge to go up to the top of the bell tower in the lift. Well worth doing in our opinion, as the views are breathtaking.
Surrounded by attractive landscape the pretty city of Veliko Tarnovo sits in the curving valley of the Yantra river. The impressive Bishop’s bridge connects the main attractions of Veliko Tarnovo – the fortresses of Tsarevets and Trapezitsa. We stayed near the bridge so we had the pleasure of waking up to the spectacular views of the fortress.
The city is fairly large, but everywhere is within walking distance including Tsarevets Fortress. Albeit that a lot of the walking is on cobbled, uneven surfaces and uphill, which in the heat of summer can be hard work.
Buses run from 0700 – 2100 hrs, the interval between buses varying from 20 to 60 minutes. Virtually all bus lines go through the city centre. Purchase tickets from a conductor on board the bus. Yellow taxis can be flagged down or booked through your accommodation.