Veliko Tarnovo

For the village in Moldova, see Tîrnova, Donduşeni.
Veliko Tarnovo
Велико Търново

Collage of views of Veliko Tarnovo, Top:View of Tsarevets Fortress, Middle left:Saint Peter and Paul Church, Middle right:Saint Demetrius church, Bottom upper left:Boris Denev Art Gallery, Bottom lower left:Saint Forty Martyrs Church, Bottom right:The monument of the Assens


Coat of arms
Veliko Tarnovo

Location of Veliko Tarnovo

Coordinates: 43°04′40″N 25°37′00″E / 43.07778°N 25.61667°E / 43.07778; 25.61667Coordinates: 43°04′40″N 25°37′00″E / 43.07778°N 25.61667°E / 43.07778; 25.61667
Country Bulgaria
Veliko Tarnovo
  Mayor Daniel Panov
  City 30.379 km2 (11.729 sq mi)
Elevation 220 m (720 ft)
Population (Census February 2011).[1]
  City Increase 68,783
  Urban 88,670
  Metro 189,908
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 5000
Area code 062
Website Official website

Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgarian: Велико Търново; Veliko Tǎrnovo "Great Tǎrnovo") Bulgarian pronunciation: [vɛˈliko ˈtɤ̞rnovo] is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province.

Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture. The old part of the city is situated on the three hills Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. On Tsarevets are the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls.

Trapezitsa is known for its many churches and as the former main residence of the nobility. During the Middle Ages, the city was among the main European centres of culture and gave its name to the architecture of the Tarnovo Artistic School, painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School, and to literature. Veliko Tarnovo is an important administrative, economic, educational, and cultural centre of Northern Bulgaria.


The most widespread theory for the name's origin holds that its original names of Tarnovgrad and Tarnovo come from the Old Bulgarian тръневъ (tranev) or тръновъ (tranov), meaning "thorny". The suffix "grad" means "city" in Bulgarian and in many Slavic languages. In 1965, the word велико (veliko), meaning "great", was added to the original name in honour of the city's status as an old capital of Bulgaria. This also helps distinguish it from the town of Malko Tarnovo.


Veliko Tarnovo has a temperate climate, with cold snowy winters and hot summers. The average minimum temperature in the coldest month, January, is about −3 °C (27 °F), while the average maximum in August, the hottest month, is 31 °C (88 °F). The highest recorded temperature is 43.1 °C (110 °F), while the lowest is −28.1 °C (−19 °F), though according to unofficial data the temperature has fallen to −38 °C (−36 °F).

Climate data for Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (2000-2013)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.0
Average low °C (°F) −4.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48


Prehistory and antiquity

Veliko Tarnovo above the Yantra River
Map of medieval Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, with a history of more than five millennia. The first traces of human presence, dating from the 3rd millennium BC, were discovered on Trapezitsa Hill.[3]

Medieval Bulgarian rule

Veliko Tarnovo in 1885

Veliko Tarnovo, originally Tarnovgrad (Търновград), grew quickly to become the strongest Bulgarian fortification of the Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th centuries and the most important political, economic, cultural and religious centre of the empire. In the 14th century, the city was described by Bulgarian cleric Gregory Tsamblak as "a very large city, handsome and surrounded by walls, with 12,000 to 15,000 inhabitants".[4]

In the 14th century, as the Byzantine Empire weakened, Tarnovo claimed to be the Third Rome, based on its preeminent cultural influence in Eastern Europe.

As the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Tarnovo was a quasi-cosmopolitan city, with many foreign merchants and envoys. Tarnovo is known to have had Armenian, Jewish and Roman Catholic ("Frankish") merchant quarters, besides a dominant Bulgarian population. The discovery of three Gothic heads of statuettes indicates there may have also been a Catholic church.[5]

Ottoman rule

Samovodska Charshiya Street in the Old Town.
View over Veliko Tarnovo and the surrounding area in the morning
Tsarevets and Stara Planina as seen from the village of Arbanassi
Kolyu Ficheto's Cathedral of the Birth of the Theotokos, completed 1844 and reconstructed 1913

Тhe political upsurge and spiritual development of Tarnovo were halted when the Ottoman Empire captured the city on 17 July 1393. The siege lasted for three months, with the Bulgarian Patriarch Evtimiy leading the defence.[6] Three years later, the Ottomans conquered the entire Bulgarian Empire.

Bulgarian resistance against Ottoman rule remained centred in Tarnovo (then known as Tırnova) until the end of the 17th century. Two major anti-Ottoman uprisings - in 1598 and in 1686 - started in the city. Tarnovo was consecutively a district (sanjak) capital in the Rumelia Eyalet, in the Silistria Eyalet, and finally in the Danube Vilayet.

Constituent Assembly of Bulgaria in 1879

Tarnovgrad, along with the rest of present-day Bulgaria, remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century, when national identity and culture reasserted themselves as a strengthening resistance movement. The goal of the establishment of an independent Bulgarian church and nation motivated the 1875 and 1876 uprisings in the town. On 23 April 1876, the April Uprising marked the beginning of the end of the Ottoman occupation. It was soon followed by the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).

Third Bulgarian State

On 7 July 1877, Russian general Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko liberated Veliko Tarnovo, ending the 480-year rule of the Ottoman Empire. In 1878, the Treaty of Berlin created a Principality of Bulgaria between the Danube and the Stara Planina range, with its seat at the old Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo.

On 17 April 1879, the first National Assembly convened in Veliko Turnovo to ratify the state's first constitution, known as the Tarnovo Constitution, resulting in the transfer of Parliament from Tarnovgrad to Sofia, which today remains the Bulgarian capital.

In deference to the city's past, Tsar Ferdinand, of the house of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, chose the Forty Holy Martyrs Church in Veliko Tarnovo as the place to declare the complete independence of Bulgaria on 5 October 1908.

In 1965, the city, then officially known as Tarnovo, was renamed Veliko Tarnovo (Great Tarnovo) to commemorate its rich history and importance.

People's Republic of Bulgaria

Samovodska charshya street

During Communist rule, the town underwent considerable changes, with some 10,000 of its population thought to have become members of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) by the end of the 1940s. A number of its churches and private enterprises were closed, while the major industries were nationalized. In the early 1950s, the town underwent an intensive process of urbanization, expanding to the west. From the same period also dates the idea of creating a large urban area in Northern Bulgaria encompassing the neighboring towns of Veliko Tarnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, and Lyaskovets (popularly known as "Targolyas").

In 1963, the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” opened as one of the largest institutions of higher education in the country. Urbanization continued during the 1970s, as the engineering, electronic, medical, computer, and furniture industries expanded in the region, adding the neighborhoods of Akacia and Kartala to the town’s landscape.

Veliko Tarnovo today

Castle Tsarevets

Today, Veliko Tarnovo is the center of one of the largest urban areas in Bulgaria and is one of the few cities in the country with a growing population. It is a foremost educational and cultural center, and the home of two major universities and extensive artistic activity. The city is a leading tourist attraction, boasting a steady increase in visitors for the last two decades. During the same period, it has also consistently attracted foreign settlers, and today, the city and its surroundings have become the home of the largest foreign expat community in Bulgaria.


Historical hill Trapezitsa

According to the 2011 census, Veliko Tarnovo had a population of 68,783 as of February 2011, while the Veliko Tarnovo Municipality, including the villages, had 88,670.[1] The number of residents of the city reached its peak in the period 1986–1991, when it exceeded 70,000.[7] The following table presents the change of the population after 1887.

Veliko Tarnovo
Year 1887 1910 1934 1946 1956 1965 1975 1985 1992 2001 2005 2009 2011 2013
Population 11,314 12,469 13,963 16,223 24,648 37,337 56,664 69,173 67,644 66,897 66,145 67,099 68,783 ??
Highest number 69,173 in 1985
Sources: National Statistical Institute,[1][7][8] „“,[9] „“,[10] Bulgarian Academy of Sciences[11]

Ethnic, linguistic and religious composition

According to the latest 2011 census data, individuals declaring their ethnic identity were distributed as follows:[12][13]

Total: 68,883


Panorama of the new part of Veliko Tarnovo
Zone B complex
Cholakovtsi neighborhood
Veliko Tarnovo center

The ethnic composition of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality is 100,570 Bulgarians, 3,681 Turks and 595 Gypsies, among others.


University of Veliko Tarnovo

Higher education

The Faculty of Fine Arts building of Veliko Tarnovo University

Veliko Tarnovo has two universities, Veliko Tarnovo University (one of the biggest universities in Bulgaria) and Vasil Levski National Military University. The Veliko Tarnovo University currently has around 18,000 students. Vasil Levski National Military University is one of the oldest military universities in Bulgaria.

Secondary education

Veliko Tarnovo has four secondary schools: Secondary School Emiliyan Stanev (main subject: foreign languages), Secondary School Vela Blagoeva (main subject: informatics), Secondary School Georgi Sava Rakovski (main subject: sports) and Secondary School Vladimir Komarov. There are ten high schools: Vasil Drumev School of Natural Sciences and Math (biology, chemistry, math), Professor Asen Zlatarov School (foreign languages), Honorary Old School of Economics, St. Cyril and Methodius School of Humanities (literature, history, Bulgarian language), A.S. Popov School of Electronics (computers, electronics), Kolyo Ficheto School of Building Construction (buildings), Angel Popov School of Architecture and Surveying (architecture, surveying), Professor Vasil Beron School of Tourism (cooking, restaurant, hotel), Vocational School of Fashion Design (sewing, design), and the American college, Arcus.

The First high school in the town

Primary education

The town has five primary schools, named "St. Patriarch Euthymius" (since 1969), "Dimitar Blagoev", "Petko R. Slaveykov" and "Bacho Kiro". The schools educate students from ages 6 to 14. The subjects are Bulgarian language, math, biology, chemistry, physics, music, art, and others. The most popular sports include football, volleyball, basketball and handball, among others. Beginning with their first class, children learn English, and after four years they can study languages such as Russian, French, German, and Italian.


In 2013, 450,000 tourists visited the city. The most popular landmark is the historic hill Tsarevets, which held the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. A number of other sites also attract tourists, including the historic hill Trapezitza, the Samovodskata Charshiya, numerous medieval and Bulgarian Renaissance churches, and the ancient Roman fortress of Nicopolis ad Istrum.


Stefan Cherkezov,hospital Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo is home to the Regional Hospital "Doctor Stefan Cherkezov," one of the largest medical facilities in North Bulgaria.


The Monument of Asenevci
Monument Mother Bulgaria

This monument was built in 1985.

The Monument of Mother Bulgaria was built in 1930.


Veliko Tarnovo is main transport center in Bulgaria.From the town passes the main road from Romania to Middle East.


Rail Station
Bus station

In Veliko Tarnovo are crossed two main roads:Varna-Sofia and Rousse-Stara Zagora. The most important traffic roads are South road junction(constructed in 2000) and Wester road junction(constructed in 1978). The town has two bus stations.

Rail Transport

Through passes the main railway Rousse-Stara Zagora. The Central rail station was built in 1900.


Ksilifor park
Marno pole Park


Stambolov bridge
Stone`s bridge
Bishop`s bridge

Stambolov bridge

The Stambolov bridge is the most famous bridge in the townлIt is an arc bridge and projected by an Italian architect.It was constructed in 1897.[14]

This is the oldest bridge,built around 1800s in Asenova mahava(Old town).[15]

Constructed in 1930 in Asenova mahala,like a connection Veliko Tarnovo-Gorna Oryahovitsa.

Few bridges for industrial workers were built in the town during the 1980s.



In 1967 Elmot AD was founded to produce electrical engines, electric wire rope hoists, rope stops, reducers and gear motors, cranes and crane components. The plant of the company is in the Western industrial zone.


In 1966 the company Bitova elektronika AD was founded in the South industrial zone to produce radio and TV sets. In 1966 to 1969 it produced radios from the series Accord, from 1967 to 1970 radios from the series Lira and from 1971 to 1975 radio from the series Harmony. In the middle of the 1970s the factory started production of a new product, televisions. The first televisions were named Resprom. The first Resprom series was T. In the 1980s the plant began producing color televisions, Veliko Tarnovo 84 and Veliko Tarnovo 85. Today the company produces electric locks, antenna filters, Lockean, assemblies and parts for servicing.

In 1969 the factory ZZU (Zavod za zapametyavashti ustroistva, Завод за запаметяващи устройства in Bulgarian) or Plant for Storage Devices was founded in the South industrial zone. In 1983 the company took a new name, Системи за телеобработка и мрежи (in English, Teleprocessing Systems and Networks). The plant manufactured different electrical schemes and ware. Since 2005 the name of the company has been “Карат Електроникс” АД (Karat Electronics AD), and it produces meters and cash registers.

In 2002 in the North part of the New town Tremol OOD was founded, one of the fastest developing electronics companies in Bulgaria. Today the company produces non-fiscal printers, POS printers, scales and cash registers. In 2007 the company was equipped with new production machines and appliances. Tremol OOD exports its products to Bulgaria, the Balkans and the European Union, and it is looking for new relationships.


Veliko Tarnovo is the biggest producer of plastic bags in Bulgaria. In 1992 Megaport OOD was founded in the Western Industrial zone of the town. The company produces bags, folios and other plastic tools, and currently has about 400 employees in Bulgaria. Extrapack OOD is a company for plastic tools founded in 1995. In 2000, it opened its first plant in the Western industrial zone and in 2011 its second, outside the town.


The biggest factory in the town was "Mavrikov," and today it has some small factories for clothes and other wares.


Prestige 96 is one of the largest sweets companies in Bulgaria and is based in Veliko Tarnovo. Another respected factory in the industry is Karmela 2000. The Bakery, founded in 1885, is one of the largest plants of its kind in Bulgaria. Elit mes OOD, founded in 1995, is a meat products producer located in the North industrial zone.


The main brewery in the city was established in 1987. Today it is called Bolyarka AD and is located in the Central industrial zone. It was a leading national brand in the 1960s and 1970s and remains popular today. In 2012, the Britos brewery was founded in the Western industrial zone. The Pepsi soft drinks plant in the Central industrial zone produces drinks for Bulgaria and for export to the Balkans.

International relations

The Varosha quarter

Twin towns – Sister cities

Veliko Tarnovo is twinned with the following cities:[16]


Tarnovo Ice Piedmont on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Veliko Tarnovo.


Ivailo Stadium is the biggest football stadium in the town. The stadium is the home of all the sports teams in Veliko Tarnovo which are called Etar. Ground was broken for the stadium in 1957 and it was completed in 1958. It has been rebuilt in the 21st century and now has seats for 18,000. Veliko Tarnovo has teams in football, basketball, volleyball, handball, athletics and other sports.

The Vasil Levski Palace of Culture and Sports is the biggest sports hall in Veliko Tarnovo. The hall was completed on 15 November 1985. The hall has 1600 seats and courts for basketball and volleyball.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 NSI, 2011 Population census in the Republic Of Bulgaria, p. 16 (Final data)
  3. Dimitrov, Bojidar. "The Church "The Forty Holy Martyrs"". National Museum of History – Sofia, Bulgaria. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  4. Jean W. Sedlar (31 March 1994). East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000–1500. University of Washington Press. pp. 113. ISBN 978-0-295-97290-9.
  5. "Търново се перчело с европейски квартали Арменци превземат католическата църква в старопрестолния град". Bulgarian Newspaper "Стандарт". 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  6. McLean, George; et al. (2005). Religion in public life: Religion, morality and communication between peoples. I. CRVP. p. 184.
  7. 1 2 (Bulgarian)National Statistical Institute - Towns population 1956-1992
  8. (English) Bulgarian National Statistical Institute - towns in 2009
  9. (English) „WorldCityPopulation“
  10. „“
  11. (Bulgarian) Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
  12. (Bulgarian) Population on 01.02.2011 by provinces, municipalities, settlements and age; National Statistical Institute
  13. Population by province, municipality, settlement and ethnic identification, by 01.02.2011; Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (Bulgarian)
  14. Stambolov bridge
  16. "National Commission for Decentralised cooperation". Délégation pour l’Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales (Ministère des Affaires étrangères) (in French). Retrieved 2013-12-26.
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