Veliko Tarnovo – Cultural Capital of the Balkans
Veliko Tarnovo, one of the most ancient Bulgarian towns, is located amphitheatrically on four hills – Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, Momina Krepost and Sveta Gora, at which foot Yantra River meanders. The town is situated 220 km away from Sofia capital city and 200 km from the capital of Romania, Bucharest. The impressive history of the town, which was more than 200 years a political, economic and cultural centre of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, can be best felt through the unique for Europe attraction – Sound and Light performance, reproducing the history of the ancient Bulgarian capital.
The town that has been recently announced Cultural Capital of the Balkans continues to preserve and develop the Bulgarian spirit and traditions. Veliko Tarnovo has an outstandingly rich historical heritage:
- Tsarevets fortress architectural reserve and Trapezitsa hill with its excavated 17 church foundations;
- Beautiful churches of historical and cultural significance for Bulgaria - St. George, St. Peter and Paul, St. Nikola, St. Cyril and Methodius, St. Constantine and Helen, St. Demetrius and 40 Holy Forty Martyrs, where the relics of Tsar Kaloyan - one of the greatest rulers of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom - were buried, Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral – the largest church in the city, and monasteries with precious icons, unique murals and frescoes - Preobrazhenski, Kilifarevski, Dryanovski, Sokolski, Petropavlovski and Patriarch’s monasteries
- Rich museums among them the spectacular archaeological museum, history and old Bulgarian lifestyle museums
- Samovodska Charshiya street
- with its traditional craft work, souvenir shops & art galleries
- Gourko romantic street with Renaissance houses nestled in the rocks.
Among the iconic cultural landmarks near Veliko Tarnovo are the architectural and historical reserve of Bozhentsi, Etar architectural and ethnographic complex and architectural and historical reserve of Arbanassi.
Every year Veliko Tarnovo is hosting a number of events in the field of culture, arts, science, education and sports as well as official celebrations of historical anniversaries.
The traditional holiday of the city on March 22 marks the glorious victory of the Bulgarian ruler Ivan Assen II over Epirus Despot Theodore Comnenus at Klokotnitsa River on March 9 (old style) 1230.
Veliko Tarnovo traditionally hosts the celebration of Bulgaria’s Independence Day on 22 September.
Among the most interesting cultural events in the city are Veliko Tarnovo and Balkan Folk international folklore festivals, the international festival of military brass bands, Stage of the Centuries opera and ballet festival, religious music festivals, international outdoor painting, graphics, sculpture and wood-plastic events, music competitions and exhibitions.