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Veliko Tarnovo


Veliko Tarnovo 
For the village in Moldova, see Tîrnova, Donduşeni.
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Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgarian: Велико Търново; Veliko Tǎrnovo "Great Tǎrnovo") Bulgarian pronunciation: [vɛˈliko ˈtɤ̞rnovo] is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province.

Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture. The old part of the city is situated on the three hills Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. On Tsarevets are the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls.

Trapezitsa is known for its many churches and as the former main residence of the nobility. During the Middle Ages, the city was among the main European centres of culture and gave its name to the architecture of the Tarnovo Artistic School, painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School, and to literature. Veliko Tarnovo is an important administrative, economic, educational, and cultural centre of Northern Bulgaria.


The most widespread theory for the name's origin holds that its original names of Tarnovgrad and Tarnovo come from the Old Bulgarian тръневъ (tranev) or тръновъ (tranov), meaning "thorny". The suffix "grad" means "city" in Bulgarian and in many Slavic languages. In 1965, the word велико (veliko), meaning "great", was added to the original name in honour of the city's status as an old capital of Bulgaria. This also helps distinguish it from the town of Malko Tarnovo.


Prehistory and antiquity

Veliko Tarnovo above the Yantra River

Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, with a history of more than five millennia. The first traces of human presence, dating from the 3rd millennium BC, were discovered on Trapezitsa Hill.

Medieval Bulgarian rule

Veliko Tarnovo in 1885

Veliko Tarnovo, originally Tarnovgrad (Търновград), grew quickly to become the strongest Bulgarian fortification of the Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th centuries and the most important political, economic, cultural and religious centre of the empire. In the 14th century, the city was described by Bulgarian cleric Gregory Tsamblak as "a very large city, handsome and surrounded by walls, with 12,000 to 15,000 inhabitants".

In the 14th century, as the Byzantine Empire weakened, Tarnovo claimed to be the Third Rome, based on its preeminent cultural influence in Eastern Europe.

As the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Tarnovo was a quasi-cosmopolitan city, with many foreign merchants and envoys. Tarnovo is known to have had Armenian, Jewish and Roman Catholic ("Frankish") merchant quarters, besides a dominant Bulgarian population. The discovery of three Gothic heads of statuettes indicates there may have also been a Catholic church.

Ottoman rule

Samovodska Charshiya Street in the Old Town.

Тhe political upsurge and spiritual development of Tarnovo were halted when the Ottoman Empire captured the city on 17 July 1393. The siege lasted for three months, with the Bulgarian Patriarch Evtimiy leading the defence. Three years later, the Ottomans conquered the entire Bulgarian Empire.

Bulgarian resistance against Ottoman rule remained centred in Tarnovo (then known as Tırnova) until the end of the 17th century. Two major anti-Ottoman uprisings - in 1598 and in 1686 - started in the city. Tarnovo was consecutively a district (sanjak) capital in the Rumelia Eyalet, in the Silistria Eyalet, and finally in the Danube Vilayet.

Constituent Assembly of Bulgaria in 1879

Tarnovgrad, along with the rest of present-day Bulgaria, remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century, when national identity and culture reasserted themselves as a strengthening resistance movement. The goal of the establishment of an independent Bulgarian church and nation motivated the 1875 and 1876 uprisings in the town. On 23 April 1876, the April Uprising marked the beginning of the end of the Ottoman occupation. It was soon followed by the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).

Third Bulgarian State

Veliko Tarnovo Gourko street 002.JPG

On 7 July 1877, Russian general Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko liberated Veliko Tarnovo, ending the 480-year rule of the Ottoman Empire. In 1878, the Treaty of Berlin created a Principality of Bulgaria between the Danube and the Stara Planina range, with its seat at the old Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo.

On 17 April 1879, the first National Assembly convened in Veliko Turnovo to ratify the state's first constitution, known as the Tarnovo Constitution, resulting in the transfer of Parliament from Tarnovgrad to Sofia, which today remains the Bulgarian capital.

In deference to the city's past, Tsar Ferdinand, of the house of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, chose the Forty Holy Martyrs Church in Veliko Tarnovo as the place to declare the complete independence of Bulgaria on 5 October 1908.

In 1965, the city, then officially known as Tarnovo, was renamed Veliko Tarnovo (Great Tarnovo) to commemorate its rich history and importance.

People's Republic of Bulgaria

Samovodska charshya street

During Communist rule, the town underwent considerable changes, with some 10,000 of its population thought to have become members of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) by the end of the 1940s. A number of its churches and private enterprises were closed, while the major industries were nationalized. In the early 1950s, the town underwent an intensive process of urbanization, expanding to the west. From the same period also dates the idea of creating a large urban area in Northern Bulgaria encompassing the neighboring towns of Veliko Tarnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, and Lyaskovets (popularly known as "Targolyas").

In 1963, the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” opened as one of the largest institutions of higher education in the country. Urbanization continued during the 1970s, as the engineering, electronic, medical, computer, and furniture industries expanded in the region, adding the neighborhoods of Akacia and Kartala to the town’s landscape.

Veliko Tarnovo today

Today, Veliko Tarnovo is the center of one of the largest urban areas in Bulgaria and is one of the few cities in the country with a growing population. It is a foremost educational and cultural center, and the home of two major universities and extensive artistic activity. The city is a leading tourist attraction, boasting a steady increase in visitors for the last two decades. During the same period, it has also consistently attracted foreign settlers, and today, the city and its surroundings have become the home of the largest foreign expat community in Bulgaria.


According to the 2011 census, Veliko Tarnovo had a population of 68,783 as of February 2011, while the Veliko Tarnovo Municipality, including the villages, had 88,670. The number of residents of the city reached its peak in the period 1986–1991, when it exceeded 70,000. The following table presents the change of the population after 1887.

Veliko TarnovoYear 1887 1910 1934 1946 1956 1965 1975 1985 1992 2001 2005 2009 2011 2013 Population 11,314 12,469 13,963 16,223 24,648 37,337 56,664 69,173 67,644 66,897 66,145 67,099 68,783  ?? Highest number 69,173 in 1985 Sources: National Statistical Institute, „citypopulation.de“, „pop-stat.mashke.org“, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Ethnic, linguistic and religious composition

According to the latest 2011 census data, individuals declaring their ethnic identity were distributed as follows:

  • Bulgarians: 59,649 (95.5%)
  • Turks: 2,225 (3.6%)
  • Roma (Gypsies): 123 (0.2%)
  • Others: 258 (0.4%)
  • Indefinable: 198 (0.3%)
  • Romanians: 100
    • Undeclared: 6,330 (9.2%)

Total: 68,883


Zone B complex
  • "Buzluđa" (Bulgarian: "Бузлуджа") - 19,500 people
  • "Kolio Ficheto" or "Triagalnika" ("Кольо Фичето"/"Триъгълника") - 17,000 people
  • "Shirok centar" ("Широк център") - 10,000 people
  • "Tsentar" ("Център") - 8000 people
  • "Zona B" ("Зона Б") - 8000 people
  • "Kartala" ("Картала") - 4800 people
  • "Akatsia" ("Акация") - 3200 people
  • "Cholakovtsi" ("Чолаковци") - 4200 people
  • "Sveta gora" ("Света гора") - 3140 people
  • "Varusha North" ("Варуша Север") - 900 people
  • "Varusha South" ("Варуша Юг") - 300 people
  • "Asenov" ("Асенов") - 800 people
  • "Zona A" ("Зона А") - 200 people (also ville zone)
  • "Slanchev dom" ("Слънчев дом") - 80 people
  • "Veliko Tarnovo hills" - (being constructed)
  • ville zone "Derven" ("Дервен") - 80 people

The ethnic composition of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality is 100,570 Bulgarians, 3,681 Turks and 595 Gypsies, among others.


In 2013, 450,000 tourists visited the city. The most popular landmark is the historic hill Tsarevets, which held the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. A number of other sites also attract tourists, including the historic hill Trapezitza, the Samovodskata Charshiya, numerous medieval and Bulgarian Renaissance churches, and the ancient Roman fortress of Nicopolis ad Istrum.


Veliko Tarnovo is home to the Regional Hospital "Doctor Stefan Cherkezov," one of the largest medical facilities in North Bulgaria.


Monument Mother Bulgaria
  • Monument of Asenevci

This monument was built in 1985.

  • Monument of Mother Bulgaria

The Monument of Mother Bulgaria was built in 1930.

  • Monument of Independence
  • Monument of Vasil Levski
  • Monument of Stefan Stambolov
  • Monument of Nikola Pickolo
  • Monument of Todor Lefterov
  • Monument of Hristo Ivanov
  • Monument Velchova Zavera
  • Monument of Nikola Gabrovski and Dimitar Blagoev
  • Monument of Ivan Semerdzhiev


Veliko Tarnovo is main transport center in Bulgaria.From the town passes the main road from Romania to Middle East.


Rail Station

In Veliko Tarnovo are crossed two main roads:Varna-Sofia and Rousse-Stara Zagora. The most important traffic roads are South road junction(constructed in 2000) and Wester road junction(constructed in 1978). The town has two bus stations.

Rail Transport

Through passes the main railway Rousse-Stara Zagora. The Central rail station was built in 1900.


Marno pole Park
  • Park "Sveta gora"
  • Park "Drudzba"
  • Park "Nikola Gabrovski"
  • Park "Akacia"
  • Park "Kartala"
  • Park "Buzluđa"
  • Park "Marno pole"
  • Park "Ruski grobishta"


Stone`s bridge
Bishop`s bridge

Stambolov bridge

The Stambolov bridge is the most famous bridge in the townлIt is an arc bridge and projected by an Italian architect.It was constructed in 1897.

  • Bishop`s(Vladishki`s) bridge

This is the oldest bridge,built around 1800s in Asenova mahava(Old town).

  • The king`s bridge(also known as Stone bridge)

Constructed in 1930 in Asenova mahala,like a connection Veliko Tarnovo-Gorna Oryahovitsa.

  • Railway`s bridge
  • Turkish bridge
  • Three arc`s bridge
  • Roe`s bridge

Few bridges for industrial workers were built in the town during the 1980s.


Tarnovo Ice Piedmont on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Veliko Tarnovo.


Tourist attractions

Photo (46)

Поглед са Царевеца на реку Јантру и Асенову махалу~~~View of  Jantra river and Asenova mahala from Tsarevets fortressОстаци гробова поред цркве где се налазио гроб Светог Саве~~~Remains of the church graveyard where was a grave of Saint SavaЦрква Светих четрдесет мученика~~~Church of Holy forty martyrs#6 Tsarevets By Night 21.06.08Castle Drawbridge40 Martyrs ChurchVeliko Turnovo - Portion of the new town from the fortressVelijko Turnovo - The bridge entering the fortressЦаревецVeliko Tarnovo to church St. 40 martyrsКатедрала „Рождество на Пресвета Богородица“ / Church in Veliko Tarnovo 21.06.08 2Tsarevets 21.06.08 1The Royal City - Veliko Turnovo, BulgariaThe Royal City - Veliko Turnovo, BulgariaThe Royal City - Veliko Turnovo, BulgariaTzarevets entranceThe Royal City - Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria#41 - The Royal City - Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, CSP Ottobre 2009TsarevetsTsarevetsTsarevets at nightThe Royal City - Veliko Turnovo, BulgariaTsarevets 1721TurnovoВелико Търново / Veliko TarnovoГробът на Цар Калоян / The Grave of Tsar KaloyanTsarevets Fortress in Veliko TarnovoVeliko Tarnovo from Tsarevets HillВелико Търново - площад "Цар Иван Асен І-ви" /Veliko Tarnovo - square "Tsar Ivan Asen 1st"Велико Търново - Асенова махала и църквата "Св. четиридесет мъченици"/ Veliko Tarnovo - Asenov's neighborhood and church "Sv. chetirideset machenici"Царевец Tsarevets castle۞ Масты на  раце Янтра з замчышча Царэвец ۞ Вялiка Тырнава ۞  Veliko Tarnovo ۞  BULGARIA  ۞ Ξ۩Ξ۩Ξ Вялiка Тырнава з замчышча Царэвец Ξ۩Ξ۩Ξ  Veliko Tarnovo Ξ۩Ξ۩Ξ BULGARIA Ξ۩Ξ۩Ξ VELIKO TURNOVO (Bulgaria). Vista desde la fortaleza Tsarevets.SS 40 Martyrs The Forty Martyrs Church, view Bulgaria - Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Mediaeval Citadel - Patriarcal Complex - Велико Търново - Средновековна крепост Царевец - Патриаршията / ОБЕКТ 11 - Архитектурно-исторически резерват „Царевец“Veliko Tarnovo - TsarevetsVeliko Tarnovo - BulgariaTurnovoSzép házakForty Martyrs Church - Pantheon of Bulgarian Кing's  Светлинно шоу "Звук и светлина" / Light show "Sound and Light"Tcarevets -Veliko T.ТърновоЦаревец Tsarevets castle

Street view


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