Veliko Tarnovo is a charming medieval town on a hill located in the Yantra river valley. The hilltop town is one of the oldest in Bulgaria; known for its charming streets lined with artisan shops including: silversmiths who make jewelry by knotting silver cord, leathermakers making rustic purses and belts and ceramic artists making historic styles of bowls and kitchen goods. The views are the best on the fortress which rests on the highest peak.
The town’s history dates back over five thousand years and has its medieval fortress, Tsarevets. The fortress is on the homonymous peak which is bordered by the river Yantra. Veliko Tarnovo has also been known for several orthodox temples. After Bulgaria’s liberation from the Ottomans the town was the country’s temporary capital in 1878.
In the summer of 2018 I took my mom and friend Fiorella on an adventure to Bulgaria and Romania. We wanted to see several places of each so I booked multiple trips and completed the Bulgaria stay near the border of Romania in Veliko Tarnovo. The town has spectacular views of the Yantra river and valley. There are many amazing silversmiths, traditional ceramic artists on Gurko street or Samovodskata Charshia (the crafts streets) as well as several delicious restaurants. The most favorite thing we enjoyed was the hand cut French fries covered in soft fresh cheese, amazing.
We took the bus from Sofia, it was about four hours journey, then a taxi to our hotel from the bus terminal. It’s a steep hike up to the town from the bus station so a taxi is recommended. The old town is an artist’s bliss, there are murals on the side of the buildings and intricate architecture to explore, the wooden houses and cobble stone streets can be enjoyed along with views of the river on both sides of town.
The favorite restaurant was:
Restaurant Shtastliveca Old Town
The food was fantastic! I had goose liver cooked with apricots and for desert a yoghurt rose concoction which blew my mind. The view of the orthodox church and river from the restaurant is awesome too!
Things to do:
Kaya Bunar waterfalls
There are also a lot of monasteries, churches and museums. We enjoyed the shopping in artisan shops where I bought some beautiful ceramics and talked to the artist about the history of the designs he uses. He’s a purist who still likes to make the pieces in his ancestors’ style. We also explored several jewelry shops where I bought a cool knotted ring a few interesting historic replica bracelets and earrings for my mom.
The town is known for silver workers and there are many jewelry shops selling artisan made jerlery. One jewler showed me a book of historical pieces made in the area and I bought some that were replicas.
Check out the amazing viewpoints around the city.