The first traces of human nature discovered on the territory of Veliko Tarnovo date back to the 4th Millenium B.C. Archeologists found a settlement in the western part of Veliko Tarnovo. One of the most popular historic places is Trapezitsa Hill. It had been inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium B.C.
Tsarevets Hill is the most attractive place for the numerous visitors to the town, because of its great historical importance. At the end of the 2nd millennium BC, a Thracian settlement was raised on its slopes and on the banks along the bed of the Yantra River. During the period between the 5th and the 6th centuries on the hills of Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Maiden’s Fortress there had been built the first fortified town. And in the 12th century, its ruins on the Tsarevets Hill had become foundations of the medieval citadel.
During 1185-1393 Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. In 1185 when the town was proclaimed the capital of Bulgaria, the Byzantine chronicler Nikita Honiat praised it as “the most beautiful town among all the towns along Hemus”. For more than 200 years it had been glorified in European royal circles as “the third town after Rome and the second after Constantinople”.
St. Nikola’s Monastery
The monastery is situated at the western end of Arbanassi village. It was built in the second middle of XVII c. and the beginning of XVII c. as a parochial church. According to a Greek gospel from 1670, the monastery’s chapel St Elias was consecrated on 15 April 1710.
There is information about rebellions in the monastery in 1717, 1729, and 1744. The church was painted in 1765 and 1784. During the big kurjalii invasion in 1798, the church was plundered, almost destroyed, and abandoned. 10 years after it was reconstructed with donations and in 1833 it was converted into a monastery. In the 60 years of XIX c. about 30 nuns were living in the monastery.
After the Liberation the monastery and the monastery’s church were reconstructed (1893).
The Stambolov’s bridge
Walking through the streets in Veliko Tarnovo you can see the river Yantra from different angles while it winds among wide precipices. The river passes by Baldwin’s tower, Asenova mahala neighborhood, Trapezitsa… Yantra curves among the hills and delineates beautiful peninsulas by its meanders – Boruna, Tzarevetz, Trapenitsa. In antiquity times bridges connected the river banks. But there is a bridge that is representative of the past and the present of Veliko Tarnovo. Covered in myths and legends, one bridge connects the river banks. Directly under it as if Yantra stops, makes a big water mirror, and as it calls to the tourist and passing students: “Look at me!”. It is the famous Stambolov’s bridge.
It was built in the period 1892-1895. It was called to the famous Bulgarian statesman Stefan Stambolov who was born in the old capital. It was unique in Bulgaria during this period (XIX century) – the bridge was 105 meters long, 7 meters wide, and 33 meters high. Many memories – good and bad – are related to it. Some old citizens still remember one day in 1936 when a military pilot named Nedyalko Popanchev passed with his plane under the bridge trying to impress the woman of his heart. However, lately this beautiful architectural creation attracts bungee maniacs.