Veliko Turnovo – Bulgaria
Veliko Turnovo, the Town of Kings, was the ancient capital of Bulgaria. The Palace of the Bulgarian sovereigns and Bulgarian Patriarch Church were situated here and it was the centre of political and cultural life. Bulgaria was then the largest and most powerful state in the southeastern European region and it played a major role in the international political relations.
Samovodska Charshla is the old market town in Veliko Turnovo. In the early 19th century, when the town was rapidly developing, there emerged a shopping centre with lots of retail outlets and artisan workshops, bakeries and cafes. The artisans in the shops existing today follow traditional methodologies of work to try to re-create the Renaissance atmosphere. Important Tamovlan inns were located here, the most popular among them was in Hadji Nikoli Inn.
Our visit to this city started at the Samovodene Marketplace. Today’s Georgi Sava Rakovski Street was previously the main trading and craftsmen’s area during the 19th century. We came across the statue and museum-house of the imminent Bulgarian writer Emillian Stanev . At the giftshop in the market square, the shop assistant suggested that we take a look at the House with the Monkey and pointed us in the direction. At the top of the main street was a large monument of Stefan Stambolov, an active figure from the time of the Bulgarian liberation, who later became Prime Minister of Bulgaria from 1887 – 1894.
Just past Stambolov’s statue, we could see the usual brickwork of The House of the Monkey. Built in 1849, it was one of the masterpieces of the Bulgarian masterbuilder Kolyu Ficheto. On the facade of the ground floor is a figurine of a sitting monkey – I’m not sure what its meant to symbolize.
Next we went in search of Gurko Street, which wasn’t too easy to find. The houses along this street are picturesque and a little further down we found our view of the Monument of the Assens. The monument is dedicated to the Bulgarian kings Assen I and II who reigned Bulgaria during the height of its political, economic and cultural point. The Monument was built in honor of the 800th anniversary from the proclamation of Turnovo as the capital of Bulgaria. Situated on a beautiful terrace above the Yantra River, it looks really dramatic.
We then rushed back to our meeting place and from the hotel lounge we had a magnificent view of the old city walls. Veliko Turnovo was certainly an interesting stop and this town warrants a longer stay here as there were lots of sights that we didn’t get to see.