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Around Veliko Tarnovo

Striking Veliko Tarnovo, rooted in years of ancient history and one time capital of Bulgaria lies in an area of outstanding beauty. Visitors to the area can take advantage of the wealth of historic towns and villages located in the area all of which provide some classic examples of Bulgaria's National Revival heritage. Quest Bulgaria takes a look at some of the best sites in the region.

Attractive Arbanassi

Arbanassi village is one of the most beautiful villages in the country and lies a mere 4 km to the north east of Veliko Tarnovo. It is an official Architecture and Historical Reserve, which flourished during the 16th to 18th century as a trade and craft centre. The houses and churches were richly decorated with wood carvings and murals and look like mini fortresses. Many can be visited with the most interesting of houses being Konstantsaliev’s House, which has a museum collection and Kandilarov’s House and Hadzhiliev’s House. There are several interesting churches, including the Birth of the Holy Son, St. Atanas, St. George that are all worth taking in.

Tremendous Tryavna

Tryavna is home to 12,000 inhabitants and is another magnificent shrine to Bulgaria’s Revival architecture. This is another town where you feel like you are stepping back in with the quaint Dyado Nikola Square and the Kachaunska Mahala quarter with its beautiful wooden houses. Daskalov’s House dating from 1804 is truly incomparable and is home to the museum of woodcarving and icon painting. There are two magnificent wood carved ceilings, which were the result of a bet between Dimitar Oshanina and Ivan Bochukovetsa in 1808. Other worthy sites in the town include Slaveikov’s House Museum, the Angel Kunchev House Museum and the 18th century Popangelov’s House. The St. Archangel Mikhail Church from 1819 displays some rich carvings including 12 scenes from the Bible as well as a wonderful throne. All of the houses and churches display some remarkable icons and permanent exhibitions in particular the exhibits in the collection “Time measuring devices and Technology of Medieval Times” are very unusual. Each year the town hosts the International Plein Air painting festival.

Gorgeous Gorna Oryahovitsa

This is a relatively large town of about 36,000 inhabitants. The ruins of the fortress Rahovets are situated 4 km to the North West and are well worth seeing. It takes an hour’s walk from the centre to get there. The town of Lyaskovets (3 km south east of Gorna Oryahovitsa) is a really picturesque town of the Revival time where you’ll find some 80 ancient houses grouped around small romantic streets. Several churches with valuable icons and wood carvings, plus a Museum of History and, unique in Bulgaria, a Museum of Gardening!

Beautiful Bozhentsi

Bozhentsi village is one of the best known Architectural and Ethnographic Reserves in the country. Almost all the buildings here were constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries and are absolutely typical of the region. Walking through Bozhentsi you’ll find yourself captivated by this rural idyll and authentic charm. The abundance of wonderful houses, the museum and a festival every year at the beginning of September are all well worth taking in. The town also lies close to some interesting small villages namely Skortsi, Dobrevtsi, Kereni and Genchevtsi, which all have some stunning ancient architecture.

Elegant Elena

Elena is a town of some 7,500 inhabitants, which has kept its Revival architecture. There are some 130 buildings which have been preserved with the best known group, Daskalolivnitsata, dating back to 1844; the main museum is located here. Perhaps the most beautiful house in the town, almost totally made of wood, is Popnikolov’s House from 1830. Rich wood carvings abound in the two old churches of St. Nikola and the Assumption Church, which are next door to each other. The houses along Petkov Street, Yovchev Street and Hadzhi Sergii Street have a particular charm.

Terrific Teteven

Teteven is one of the most picturesque towns in this region surrounded by magnificent mountain peaks. Wandering up the mountain paths will provide you with a site to behold – the views really are spectacular here. Worth checking out in the town is the Town Museum of History and St Iliya Monastery dating from the 14th Century. All Saints Church in the centre of the town was built in 1834 and is particularly large at over 30 m long and 14 m wide with huge, thick walls of 1.5 m. The pulpit is ornately decorated with wood carvings. After you have taken in the sights here relax with a glass of rakiya - Teteven is famous for it.

Delightful Dryanovo

The town of Dryanovo and the surrounding area has developed as a tourist destination. Interesting buildings and restored houses are to be found all over the town in particular the houses of Ikonomov, Afazov, Romounov and Taninov in the Boiuv Yaz quarter in the central part of town as well as the St. Nikola Church, the Clock Tower and the Art Gallery.

One of the most fascinating houses to visit is Lavchiev’s House dating from 1840. This is a real masterpiece of the Revival period and not a single nail was used in its construction!

Just 4 km south west of the town is the Dyranovo Monastery. It is known as one of the symbols of the Bulgarian’s insubordinate spirit; 220 revolutionaries turned the monastery into an unassailable fortress for 9 days and nights during 1876 when fighting against the Ottoman Turks. Nearby Dryano Cave is an underground fairytale world where you can follow the 1,200 m cave path. and see some remarkable formations ... also worth visiting are the nearby villages of Kalomen and Kerenite