Pleven is another of Bulgaria’s hidden gems, which is rich in potential for both tourism and industry. It is Bulgaria’s seventh largest town; its role in the country is increasing significantly, as more businesses move here. It lies at the foothills of the Stara Planina Mountains and the Danube plain close to the Touchenitsa River, a tributary of the Vit River. Its stunning location, in a valley surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and lush greenery, make Pleven a beautiful place to live in. Tastefully restored neo-classical buildings surround Pleven’s city centre, which, with their tasteful palette of hues and pastels, lends an air of class to the centre. The area is steeped in history and its national heritage is rich; there are over 450 archaeological and cultural sites and around 215 memorials dedicated to the Russian-Turkish Liberation War. Pleven enjoys the hottest summers in Bulgaria and the coldest winters. The region is ideal for eco and spa tourism and is quickly asserting itself as an ideal place for a holiday or investment.
Pleven is easily accessible by bus and train from Sofia, Varna and Rousse. Regular buses connect the town with Veliko Turnovo and Lovech and many of the towns and villages en route. Around town, a bus and trolley bus service provides easy links.
There are many wonderful historic sights to visit in Pleven, which is why it is dubbed the “City of Museums.” Vuzrazhdane Square is a great starting point for any tour of the town and it offers attractive wide-open spaces with plents of relaxing bards and cafes.
The Pleven Fountains - The Pleven fountains provide a mesmerising combination of water and light. The fountain sits on over ten decares of land and it operates from April to October. The best time to visit is after dark, when the brilliance of the fountains mixes with the glamour of lights from the surrounding cafes and restaurants.
Ivan Radoev Theatre - Architecturally, this building is in keeping with the classical style of the city. The theatre offers a wide programme of events including performances of the “Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra.
Church of Sveti Nikolai - This church is believed to have been built in the 1300’s. It contains some fabulous paintings and icons, the best of which have been painted by unknown peasant artists.
Mausoleum Chapel St Georgi Pobedonosetz - Built in 1907, the chapel is one is one of Bulgaria’s most impressive churches. It‘s interior is unique and its crypt houses the remains of the Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Finnish, Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Moldovian soldiers who died during the liberation of Pleven. The iconostasis and the icons are works of eminent Bulgarian masters.
Museum of Liberation - Located in a small wooden house, which was the place where the occupying commander surrendered to Aleksander II. The museum houses weapons, plans and artefacts from the famous battle.
The Old Public Baths - The building has a red and white striped façade, which makes it look like a church. Inside there is an art gallery exhibiting the paintings of local artist Svetlin Rusev as well as noted Western European artists like Picasso, Dali and Goya.
Regional Historical Museum - A beautiful building containing artefacts from a number of eras in Bulgarian history including a Neolithic dwelling from the fourth century BC. A must-see for any visitor to Pleven.
Skobelev Park - The Skobelev Park stands on a hill, which marks the common grave of the thousands of Liberation soldiers. It is an agreeable place to visit, covered in greenery and housing many interesting military relics.
Pleven Panorama - Actually called the Pleven Epopee 1887, this modern structure stands at the top of the hill in the Skobelev Park. It was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary Liberation war and was designed to mirror the Borodin Panorama in Moscow.
Kailaka Park - This beautiful park is located on the outskirts of the town and is embraced by sheer rock cliffs over 20m high. It is a popular spot for recreation, housing a swimming pool, water sports, the city zoo, play areas, open air theatre and restaurants and a fine collection of monuments to Russian Liberators. Athletes take advantage of the sheer rock face and many rock-climbing competitions take place here.
The Kovanluk and the Murtvata Dolina - Located close to Skobelev Park, the Kovanluk and the Mrtvata Dolina, which means “Death Valley” is the old site of one of the most bloody of the Liberation battles. Over 6,000 Russian and Romanian soldiers were killed here. On the hill, you can see the Monument to Victory and the bridge over the Vit River, where Turkish leader Osman Pasha planted his white flag to signify defeat.
The areas surrounding Pleven offer spectacular views of the Vit River and the Stara Planina Mountains. There are many traditional villages and opportunities to relax in close proximity to the town.
Glavna Panega - Just outside the quaint village of Zlatna Glavna, Bulgaria’s second largest mineral spring, the Glavna Panega forms two enormous lakes, whose waters remain a delightful 10 - 12.5 degrees centigrade, regardless of the season. Old legend tells how Panega, a fair maiden from Roman times, was cured of an illness after bathing here.
Lavrov Park - Located near the village of Gorni Dubnik, this small but charming park has a museum inside, which exhibits war plans and relics from the Liberation war. Outside there is a statue honouring the Soviet-Bulgarian eternal friendship.
Chernelka Nature Reserve - A mere 12km from Pleven lies the stunning Chernelka Nature Reserve. The area is ideal for walking and hiking and offers some amazing views and intriguing rock formations including a deep canyon and ring of natural rock. Many valuable archaeological relics have been discovered in the valley of the Chernelka River. Visitors should take in the prehistoric settlement at the natural rock column, Mechoka and the medieval fortress, Gradishte.
Troyan Monastery - Bulgaria’s third largest monastery lies on the west bank of the Cherni Osam River. Its church houses a wealth of ornate frescoes including the macabre “Last Judgement.” another curiosity inside the church is the “Three-Handed Virgin, ” arather strange icon of Mary holding the infant Jesus with three hands.
Devetashka Cave - The Pleven region is rich in caves and ideal for speleological enthusiasts. One of the largest is the Devetashka Cave, where archaeologists have found many treasures from the Palaeolithic Age.
Lovech - One of Bulgaria’s oldest and most interesting towns, Lovech, lies appealingly on both banks of the Osam River a mere 35km. from Pleven. This charming town is well worth a visit and offers much to see and do. The old town dates back to the Bulgarian Renaissance period and has been declared a historical and architectural preservation area. Its quaint narrow cobbled streets and Renaissance-style houses are a huge attraction for tourists. Another attraction is Bulgaria’s only covered bridge that stretches over the Osam River. The bridge was originally built by the famous self-taught architect Kolyo Fitcheto, in 1874, but was burned down completely in 1925.
Pleven has several characterless, concrete high-rise hotels, all of which offer good facilities and service. They are the hotel Balkan, Interrostov and Pleven. However, the following hotels offer a more inspiring environment.
Art Hotel Gallery - is situated close to the city centre and offers a cosy atmosphere. The walls are decorated with beautiful paintings by contemporary Bulgarian artists.
Hotel Chekratsite - This delightful complex is situated in a picturesque forest on the road to Vidin. The hotel has five two-bedded rooms and a restaurant offering traditional Bulgarian cuisine.
Chalet Momina Salza - Located near the mountain village of Reselets, this small hotel has five single,five double rooms and two suites.
Park Hotel Kailaka - Situated amidst the picturesque park Kailaka, close to the centre, this four star hotel is suitable for business meetings, seminars and conferences, as well as for vacations and holidays.
Orbita Palace Hotel - Located on a hilltop in the picturesque Park Kailaka, this four star hotel offers a wealth of facilities including a Spa and Wellness centre, which offers dieting programs for weight reduction, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, massage and a fitness and beauty centre.
The main square and ulitsa Vasil Levski are the places to be for good food and a social life. Pleven offers many pavement cafes and restaurants as well as a vibrant nightlife
Zlatna Guska - A traditional style Mehana serving great Bulgarian cuisine.
Bulgarski Koren - Set in a beautiful courtyard with fountains, this restaurant also offers traditional cuisine but in a more luxurious setting.
Pizzeria Napoli - Serving tasty Italian fare, this restaurant is located close to the Balkan Hotel.
Bar Camelia - The place for all night clubbing!
Many famous Bulgarian sports personalities either were born in or trained in Pleven, giving it the reputation as one of the most important sports centres in the country - the town’s sports school is the best in the country. The city hosts two football clubs and a basketball team. There are two stadiums, a swimming pool, tennis, volleyball and basketball halls, a covered running track, two tennis courts, a rudder water pool for all year training and a horse riding school.
Kalilaka Park provides ideal facilities for group sport events and the surrounding area is ideal for rock climbing, hiking, fishing and mountain biking.