I first discovered Veliko Turnovo when David and I were planning to take a daytrip to Bulgaria (departing from Bucharest, where we’re currently located), somewhere close enough and interesting. We were first considering Balcik, but browsing through David’s Lonely Planet we started reading on VT and were sold out on it on the spot.
The trouble was, there are about 180 km from Bucharest to Velilko Turnovo, and it turned out there was no cheap and fast way to get there. That’s when it first crossed my mind to rent a car, find a couple more people interested, and split the cost. I posted the ad for the trip to some Facebook groups and on Couch Surfing and quite a few people wanted to sign up for it. So I contracted a minibus with a driver to be able to take everybody around.
This was on the first weekend of December. Veliko Turnovo was absolutely gorgeous, such a great surprise, one of those places you want to see more and more of. Things went really well on the first trip and, since I had to turn down some people on the first tour, I decided to run it at least once more the following week. So far I’ve taken groups of 16 people to visit the old Bulgarian capital twice, but maybe in the near future I’ll do it again. So far I am loving group tours, so in some way or another, I’ll try to keep them going!
Some info I gathered about Veliko Turnovo
Veliko Turnovo is a beautiful little Bulgarian town, located in the mountainous region of the northern part of the country (located approximately 180 km away from Bucharest). The town has a rich history, having had been the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, starting with the year 1187. The next two centuries are considered to be the golden ages.
Veliko Turnovo is located on the Yantra river and its old town is dispersed on to three hills: Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora. The former residences of the tsars and of the patriarchs are located on the Tsarevets hill.
Between the XIII-XIV centuries, the capital of Bulgaria was an important political, economical and cultural European center. During these times, the Bulgarian Empire was the second power on the Old Continent, after the Byzantine Empire. Numerous monasteries, schools, palaces and fortifications were built during these years. The most notable schools built here were the Painting School and the Literary School of Turnovo, which were founded by Eventimii Patriarch and Teodosii Turnovski.
The prosperity of the city had much to suffer during the Otoman uprising. Veliko Turnovo fell, after 3 moths of siege, under Turkish occupation on the 17th of July 1393. The town was free once again after almost 500 years, on the 7th of July 1877.
Nowadays, Veliko Tornovo is an imporatnt academic, administrative, cultural, historical and turisctic of Bulgaria. The good location, climate, natural resources, the well preserved historical artifacts, the persistence of the old handicrafts respresent all atractions to the area from a touristic point of view. Veliko Turnovo is also a symbol of Bulgaria and the statistics show that it is one of the 10 most visited destinations in Eastern Europe.