Custom Search

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spring in Veliko Tarnovo - Capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom

This is mainly a picture post from a Bulgarian city where my mother comes from and where I used to spend some of my holidays as well as many weekends during the year. Unfortunately, only my uncle lives there now and I don't get the chance to go there more than once per year, sometimes even less.

Tarnovo was an important city between 1185 and 1396 - the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (or Tsardom) between the Byzantine domination and the Ottoman conquest. The picture below is from the castle hill Tsarevets but of course this is only a 20th c. reconstruction on the place of the remains.

Tsarevets Fortress

Tarnovo is situated on several hills around the meandering river Yantra, later joining the Danube which later joins the Black Sea.

That's a different point of view to the same hill.

Old town seen from Yantra river peninsula

A typical house

The picture below must be from an abandoned house which, I hope, will be renovated and not destroyed. They actually did a very good job in renovating old crumbling houses on a difficult hilly terrain so there is hope.

The owners of the house

The building below used to be the headquarters of the communist secret police and most probably some poor souls had a hard time there. Now it is an arts gallery, with a nice cafe and a the most beautiful view at the old city. Isn't it perverse to locate the secret police there?

View of the peninsula and the arts gallery
(ex- secret police headquarters)

Very often, the houses are literally on top of each other. Once I saw a hotel with two floors seen from outside but with almost ten floors below, reaching another street on a much lower level.

One on top of the other

That's a typical Tarnovo house, often found in other parts of the country as well and actually most probably having its origins in the Ottoman architecture. If you travel in Central Anatolia you see many of them.

A street in the old town

That's the river Yantra and a part of the old town with some new buildings as well.

The Patriarchate in Tarnovo

Besides the beauty of the place I associate Tarnovo with a careless childhood: reading in one's cool bed when it is really hot outside; having a nice long siesta and waking up hungry like you do only when you are growing; eating a huge cold water melon cut in slices; having long walks with my parents and coming back home while my grandmother prepared a tasty dinner....

* The pictures (except the 1st and the last) were made by my brother Viktor Zhechkov and his wife Mariana Vitkova at the beginning of May, 2009.


Delwyn said...

I have really enjoyed this post, thank you. I am only just finishing the book Solo by Ran Dasgupta about the life of an old man Ulrich, in Bulgaria, living through the communist era.
Happy Days

Ruslan said...

Delwyn, now you can better imagine how it looks like. It's not all as beautiful as this one though....

One day I can make a post of a big Communist-era neighbourhood which is probably a better setting for your novel.

How is the book?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hi, I have been lurking at your blog for awhile and decided to un-lurk. Thank you for sharing about Veliko Tarnovo. Before this, I have never heard of it. We were never taught much about the history of the Balkans but I would like very much to learn more about it and about such beautiful places.

Ruslan said...

Hi Lone Squirrel,

Welcome :-)

I saw that you were in the environment business. Me too actually.

Have a nice Sunday although if you are in Malaysia, it must be over already.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Very interesting photos and narrative. I'd never really considered visiting your area but you're piquing my interest.

Dumdad said...

Fascinating post. The photo "One on top of the other" is quite scarey!

I_am_Tulsa said...

Such lovely buildings! Thank you for introducing a part of the world I have not seen YET. Looking forward to learning more!