Veliko Tarnovo is the old capital of Bulgaria. This former most important city in the country, is located in northern Dobrudja and is one of the most important historical settlements in Bulgaria and as such Tarnovo has much to offer its visitors and guests.
The undisputed symbol of Veliko Tarnovo is the fortress Tsarevets, which was the main Bulgarian fortress during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, 1185-1393 year. Tsarevets is included in the list of the 100 national tourist sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union.
Tsarevets is solidly fortified with walls, which dominates the background of Veliko Tarnovo - the eponymous hill. The two outer suburbs are formed along the Yantra River, which flows at the foot of the western and southeastern slopes of Tsarevets. In those medieval times between the 12th and 14th century Tsarevets stood shoulder to shoulder in glory and power to Rome, it was even called – the second Constantinople city and was one of the largest fortified cities in Southeast Europe.
The first settlement of this historic hill appeared in the Late Chalcolithic period around 4200 BC. It continues its development in the Bronze Age and during the Iron Age. When the lands were inhabited by the Thracians, the town was noted for its significant progress.
Around the 5th-7th century the site today of Tsarevets was the largest city of the Byzantine Empire and was the province of Lower Moesia. Shortly thereafter, at the early Byzantine fortress arises an old Bulgarian village, which developed and expanded during the First Bulgarian Empire, especially in the era of the Byzantine rule.
In 1186 Tarnovo became the capital of Bulgaria, and Tsarevets had built the Royal Palace and Patriarch, which were the two principal institutions of the time. The fortress wall was about 2 km long and advocated Tsarevets and the hazardous hill. In places the wall thickness reached 2.60 meters.
Tsarevets had three entrances, the chief lies to the west and the three consecutive gates were defended by towers. The wooden drawbridge, managed to continue until 1864 and was restored without the gate tower in 1932-1934, the second gate is located 18 meters after the first. The third gate had existed in its authentic form until 1889 and was restored in 1971.
One of the interesting places in the castle Tsarevets is Baldwin Tower, which is related to the legend that the Latin Emperor Baldwin of Flanders was found dead there. He was captured by the Bulgarian King Kaloyan after the battle of Adrianople in 1205 at the end of the 13th century and it was then that this tower had built one of the urban monasteries. In the Middle Ages Tsarevets also constituted a dense network of residential and farm buildings.
The archaeological research displayed to the world data more than 370 residential and farm buildings, 22 churches, 4 of which were early Byzantine and there were also remains of 4 monastery complexes. The housing developed neighborhoods all had their own parish church. Also, between all the parts of Tsarevets was built a very good street network.
In the middle of Tsarevets is a Church of Holy Ascension. There today, the relics of St. Michael - Soldier of Potuka have been saved. This temple is a cruciform, and from its southern side stands a high tower that serves as a bell, which had generally been rare in the church architecture in the Balkans.
In the medieval times the church was decorated inside and out with mosaics and murals. The church along with the palace of Tsarevets was destroyed in the capture of the fortress in the summer of 1393 by the armies of Sultan Bayazid I.
Restoration of the castle Tsarevets began in 1930 and was completed in 1981 in honor of 1300 years of the Bulgarian state. According to official statistics, Tsarevets is the most visited monument in Bulgaria. Tsarevets sees about 200, 000 people a year and offers its many guests the unforgettable light and sound show.