Today we joined the free walking tour of Veliko Tarnovo. These tend to be hit or miss to be honest, but fortunately for us today was a hit and a good walking tour, that took us through some familiar streets (including our Hotel) and to some places we hadn’t found yesterday.
Veliko Tarnovo was the medieval capital of Bulgaria and was a rival to Rome and Constantinople in its hey day. But Bulgaria is one of those countries that have been invaded numerous times over the centuries. It also followed the Germans into battle in both world wars. It has been its own country though since the late 19th century.
We wandered up the old shopping street (the other really old street is the one our hotel is on). We stopped at the Hadji Nikoli Inn, which is an old building. The guide told us it had a good restaurant, which is good, because we had a good dinner there the night before! We walked past the shop where I broke everything and then we went to a shop with a really weird looking thing outside. It turns out it was a costume for a pagan festival. I posed for a photograph with the headpiece on. Was tempted to buy it, but its too big for carry on luggage.
We continued down the street past numerous old buildings, most seemed to be built by a guy called Kolyu Ficheto. It was a running joke when something wasn’t built by this guy. While this was a medieval capital, very little of the medieval side exists and most of it is 19th Century, built/designed by Kolyu Ficheto. We eventually reached the point where the entrance to the Tsvarets Fortress was. Took a few photos and then headed back towards the second old street.
We walked past our lovely hotel on the old street and past the communist hotel which looks awful from the outside, was not built by Kolyu Ficheto, but apparently nice inside. We crossed over a bridge to see the monument of dedicated to the 4 great kings of Bulgaria 800 years after they reigned. Back then Bulgaria own a lot of the surrounding territories and bordered with the Hungarian empire. Here the really informative walking tour ended and we headed back to visit Tsvarets Fortress.
The fortress itself is huge. We didn’t really learn much about the place as there was very little signs around, we didn’t get asked if we wanted a guide. Our walking tour guide suggested it would take a few hours to explore the place and to visit the church up the top. The church was no longer working, but had artwork inside that was modern and depicted Bulgarian history.
We headed back down towards where the flag was flying and enjoyed the peace and serenity and watched an american guy try to lead his six kids around the site. The kids were basically scaling the walls, even the ones with danger signs next to them. Once they left and the twang of a loud american accent left the scene, the serenity was restored and it was possible to enjoy the place again. Tomorrow we head to Plovdiv!