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Targovishte, the Old Marketplace

Once an ancient market town, Targovishte is on first sight not the most attractive of Bulgarian cities. It lies on the Danube Plain in the north east of Bulgaria and is a regional and municipal centre. As you approach the town, the rough urban feel contrasts with the steep hills and fertile, green plains, but this is an area famed for its agricultural and wine production. First impressions are deceiving here, the town centre is extremely pleasant with some great historical buildings and the surrounding area offers many forests abundant with wild animals, artificial lakes ideal for recreation and some spectacular countryside.

Getting There

Targovishte lies on the banks of the Vrana River at the foot of the Preslav Mountain. It is 339 km from the capital, Sofia, 41 km to the west of Shoumen, 25 km from Veliki Preslav, 24 km from Omurtag, 100 km from Veliko Tarnovo, 100 km from Rousse and 125 km from Varna on the Black Sea coast. Varna is the nearest international airport.

A Dip Back in Time

Targovishte’s exact history is not known; an ancient Roman town known as Missionis was unearthed near the town in 2000, yet the town’s name comes from the Turkish words meaning marketplace or old bazaar. It was first documented in the 16th century Ottoman tax registers and by the 17th century it had already been declared an administrative centre. It’s location on a crossroads ensured that it was a popular place to trade and in the 18th and 19th centuries it’s town market was popular for the trade of animals and crafts amongst other things. It was not until after WW2 that the town began to establish industrial roots with battery producing factories, heavy plant machinery and furniture and textiles being prominent. Today it is home to one of the country's largest wine producers LVK Vinprom.

Must See

For a town with a population of just over 37,000 inhabitants there are plenty of attractions to keep visitors entertained. There are two Bulgarian Orthodox churches worth seeing and a mosque as well as a theatre and puppet theatre. The Varosha quarter with its National Revival houses pays great tribute to this important era in Bulgaria’s history; houses worth seeing are the Hadji Angelova, which is home to the town’s ethnographical exhibition, the Zaharieva house, which is now an administration building belonging to the History Museum, the Sveshtarova house, the Kassarova house and the school of Hadji Russi, which is home to the History Museum’s archaeological exhibition. The collection itself is well worth seeing; it features exhibits from the Neolithic period through to the Middle Ages. The actual Museum of History is located in the Slavejkov School, which is another historic building, built in 1863 as a secular school. Other places of interest here include the Nikola Simov – Kuruto monument next to the Historical Museum, which was constructed in honour of the local people who died for the country in the wars for national unification. The attractive park and Borovo Oko Lake is great for recreations and is close to the Art Gallery and the house of Stephan Kutsarov.

 

Out of Town

The nearby environs are full of natural beauty and there is plenty here to keep the most demanding of visitors’ happy. The Krumovo Kale castle, seven km from the town will excite lovers of ancient history; the ruins of a fifth century Byzantine castle cover 150 decares. The castle was originally built to protect the inhabitants from frequent attacks by the Slavs, Proto-Bulgarians and Goths. Although the castle was already in tatters by the time the First Bulgarian state was formed, you can still see the remains of the entry gate there and two U-shaped towers and a 14th century necropolis. Some archaeologists believe that the Krumovo Kale is really the ancient town of Misionis.

Another site also seven km distance from the town is the Koniat, a rock formation, which is like a white horse cut into the rock. This is located in the Parka, close to the point where the Vrana River carves its way through the Preslav Mountain. There is also a small waterfall known as the Vodopada, which was formed from an underground offshoot of the River Vrana.

The protected meadow in the Kajraka area contains many wild, healing primroses and is an area of outstanding natural beauty surrounded by forests and shrub land. The Derventska Cave on the slopes of the Preslav Mountain is home to a population of bats, a rich collection of rock formations including massive stalagmites, covered with red, brown, pink and white crystals, and its underground lake and cave pearls. Another protected area in this region is the century-old forest known as Petka Balkan close to the village of Bratovo. The area’s history dates back to the 16th century and there are many tales about it being important in the conversion of the Bulgarian people to Islam. Today many fairs are held here. Wine lovers should head for the village of Kralevo where there are plenty of vineyards famed for their production of Kralevski Misket or the village of Nadarevo, where wines are bottled at the Slancheva Dolina winery.

Pictures courtesy of www.bulgariaphotos.net