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Another iconic Veliko Tarnovo building to be restored!

a postcard of hotel Tsar Boris

a postcard of hotel Tsar Boris

Recent article in the Bulgarian newspaper Trud reports that another iconic Veliko Tarnovo building is going to be restored to former glory. According to Trud, the US millionaire, Edmund Beck, the owner of Hadji Nikoli Inn, purchased the decaying building of Hotel Tsar Boris III.


Hotel Tsar Boris was the one of the most preferred places for Turnovo Bohemia in the early 20th century. Built by the famous master Stoyan Gerganov, father of a prominent Tarnovian Tsanyo Gerganov, the hotel was owned by the brothers Panayot and Yanko Shopovi.


Shortly after the construction of the building, one of the brothers (Panayot) passes away. Yanko Shopov was known for its bohemian and prodigal character, which is why the hotel is later sold to Stanyu Subev – The Butcher.  He in turn sold it in 1919 for 140,000 Levs to Stefan Merdzhanov.


Under the ownership of Stefan Merdzhanov, the hotel goes through its golden ages. Hotel Tsar Boris III is a three-storey building, of which only two are facing the street. Its stone features and balconies, make it interesting in terms of architecture and building today.


Historic data from 1903 shows that the premises (the hotel and the restaurant) had good income. The hotel used to accommodate Italians and Belgians who were involved in the construction of the railway line between Ruse and Veliko Tarnovo. The good financial situation of the hotel led to expansion of the building; a new mansard floor was built and the roof was lined with then unknown galvanized steel.


The entrepreneurial spirit of Stefan Merdzhanov incites yet another improvement on the building – the famous spacious balcony, overlooking the hills of Tsarevets and Trapezitsa.


Hotel Tsar Boris III was a 40-bed hotel with staff of 27-28 people – cooks, waiters, housekeepers. Always fully booked, it accommodated famous people such as Marshal Tolbukhin (a Soviet military commander). The restaurant of Boris III had great menu, appealing to all tastes. According to historic records, it was the place to be on a night out.


Hotel Tsar Boris III now

Hotel Tsar Boris III now

This Veliko Tarnovo property has been uninhabitable for years. It has become a refuge for tramps and was set on fire a few times.


Architect Nikolay Georgiev, who drafted the reconstruction of Hadji Nikoli Inn will take over the reconstruction project of this building, reports Trud.


In 2006, the millionaire paid over half a million lev to the heirs of Hadji Nikoli Inn and invested another 2 million lev for its restoration.


Hadji Nikoli Inn in Veliko Tarnovo


Another iconic building in Veliko Tarnovo is the Hadji Nikoli Inn (Хан Хаджи Николи in Bulgarian). This beautiful inn is located the heart of the Old Town, in Samovodska Charshia, and is a cultural monument of national significance.


The inn is an example of late Bulgarian Revival architecture with historic and sentimental value to Tarnovians. It was built in between 1858–1862 by the native master-builder Nikola Fichev (known as Kolyu Ficheto, who also built the House with the Monkey) for the needs of a wealthy merchant named Hadji Nikola Minchev (Hadji Nikoli). Hadji is an honorary title, given to people who have visited the Holy Land, Jerusalem and the Empty Tomb (Tomb of Jesus).


Hadji Nikoli Inn is of great importance due to the fact that it is the sole “survivor” of the total of 70 inns built in Veliko Tarnovo in the past.


The property comprises of self-contained premises located on each floor, which in the past have been used as storage and workshops, a narrow courtyard enclosed from three sides. On the ground level facing the street, shops were built and still used as such today. The building has a solid brick, natural stone and iron construction.


The Inn has undergone a number of modifications due to urban planning and development plans in the street, but now has been restored to its original form. It operated as an ethnographic museum until 1987 and was open to visitors. Later it was given to the National Museum of Architecture and the shops were used by craftsmen of Samovodska Charshia. After restitution in 1992, the premises were handed back to heirs of Hadji Nikoli. The Inn was closed to visitors and left to decay for more than ten years.


It was bought by Eduard Beck in 2005 and it was restored to the building you see now between the years of 2006 – 2010. It now hosts a restaurant, a wine bar, an art gallery, guest rooms and a museum.



Konstantsalieva House, Arbanasi

Konstantsalieva House

Konstantsalieva House

Konstantsalieva House is one of the most outstanding examples of traditional Bulgarian architecture and one of the most beautiful old Bulgarian houses.


Originally built in the 17th century, the it was gradually expanded and renovated in the following centuries.


The house once was a property of the local Tafrili family and was later purchased by the local resident named Atanas Konsantsaliata (hence its name).


The house is close to the famous Kokonska water fountain. It is arranged over 2 floors with an enclosed (by high stone walls) garden, like a small fortress without any balconies that face the street.

Inside, Kitchen Area

Inside, Kitchen Area

This property has two entrances. The south-west gate with double wooden doors was used for caravans & merchandise entering the yard, whereas the single door on the north was used by the residents of the house.


The ground floor used to accommodate the guards of the house and includes residential areas, as well as a secret hiding place connected to the upper floor by its own staircase.


The first floor consists of a reception hall, living and dining rooms and a special room (in the most sheltered part of the estate) for pregnant women and young mothers in the house.


All rooms are decorated with white fretwork, drawings and applied items and hand-carved wooden features.


Currently the house is a museum, exhibiting the daily life and culture of Arbanasi at the beginning of the 19th century.


Veliko Tarnovo – Photo exibition commemorates 100 years since a devastating earthquake

Images from the earthquake

Images from the earthquake (click to enlarge)

The photo exhibition can be seen in Veliko Tarnovo centre, set in front of the Arts Faculty Building. Images are curated by the Modern and New History Department of the Regional History Museum in VT and includes 61 images from the archives of the museum.

The photographs reveal the devastation and destruction from the earthquake on June 1, 1913 that shook the Old Bulgarian Capital. Some of the images are being displayed for the first time, and post cards with such images can also be observed.


Tarnovians and guests of the city can see the damages on some of the most iconic Veliko Tarnovo houses, building, monuments and churches – The state School for Boys St Cyril, 40 Martyrs Church, St Spas Church and the St. St Peter and Pavel.

The Cathedral Church "Nativity of the Holy Mother"

The Cathedral Church “Nativity of the Holy Mother”

The Cathedral Church "Nativity of the Holy Mother" now

The Cathedral Church “Nativity of the Holy Mother” now

The exhibition shows not only the devastation and tragedy of Tarnovians in the summer of 1913, but also the vision of the affected buildings after the disaster and after their reconstruction in the coming decades.


Photographs show that despite the horror and the damages amounting to 12,316,000 Levs, residents of Veliko Tarnovo found the strength and will to recover the City of Tsars, that was destroyed up to 80% in June 1913.


Information about the earthquake and more images can be seen on Regional History Museum website.


The Ancient Roman City of Novae (Nove)


The Ancient Site of Novae

The archaeological site of the Roman city Novae or Nove is located 4 km east of Svishtov and approximately 88 km from Veliko Tarnovo. The place was initially a camp site founded by legio VIII Augusta in 45 AD, which later on was replaced by the legio I Italica.


It is thought that the fort was sized 485 by 365 meters and was erected next to the high right bank of the Danube. The civil settlements were located west and south-west and were populated by military veterans, merchants, artisans and their families.


A smaller settlement was discovered during excavations 2 km east of the town of Novae. At the end of 3rd and early 4th century, the military camp gradually grew and became a fortified town with a mixed military and civilian population.


The legions in Novae were involved in many battles, including the war of the Emperor Trajan against Dacians and the campaigns of the rulers of the dynasty from the north east. At the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th century, the city was the centre of defence against of the Byzantine army against the constant attacks of the Slavs and Avars.


During its long history Novae is visited by some of the most famous Roman emperors – Trajan (98-117 AD), Hadrian (117-138 BC, Caracalla (198 – 217 AD). There are suggestions that Emperor Maximinus Thrax ( 235-238 BC) was born in Novae.


In the second half of the 5th century AD Novae is the main residence of the Gothic King Theoderic the Great, who conquered Rome and subsequently created the Gothic kingdom with its capital Ravenna in the territory of present-day Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.


The House with the Monkey in Veliko Tarnovo

Yantra Homes is next to the House with the Monkey

Yantra Homes is next to the House with the Monkey

The House with the Monkey in Veliko Tarnovo is built in 1849 and is one of the works of the Bulgarian Revival master Kolyu Ficheto. This landmark building is located between the old Market Halls (now hosting small shops, a restaurant and a bar) and the Samovodska Charshia.


This three-storey Bulgarian house is built under the commission of a merchant named Nikola Koyuv, on a narrow plot between the two streets. Despite the limited space, the building had all the necessary rooms and facilities like storage rooms, a shop on the ground floor (now antique shop) and accommodations. Similar to other Veliko Tarnovo houses it is located on two streets. Housing premises are accessed from the backstreet. Links to the other floor is via an internal staircase. The ground floor has an arched design.


An antiques collector named Stoyancho P. Akhtar also live there for some time. He is claimed to be the first collector of antiquities and owner of Bulgaria’s first private collection of valuable medieval manuscripts and coins.


You find the monkey on the smooth plastered façade, sitting below an inscribed stone slate. There are two round holes with metal grid on each side of the figure. The first residential floor is protruded by approximately 26 cm transition and forms a low profiled cornice. The second floor also comes forward like the first, but with a much richer concave curve and small rectangular profiles and retreat. Each residential floor has 5 windows and there is a skylight on the second floor. The façade is a brick veneer with curved shapes. Such decoration is rare for homes in Bulgaria and is thought to be brought by the master builder Kolyu Ficheto.


Such decoration of the façades is found in other houses in Tarnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa and Plakovski Transfiguration Monastery, where the famous builder has worked. The House with the Monkey was restored under the project of architect. T. Teofilov.  It now hosts the Tarnovo branch of the Union of Scientist and Scholars in Bulgaria.


Asenevtsi Monument Veliko Tarnovo



Asenevtsi Monument is one of the iconic landmarks of Veliko Tarnovo. This imposing monument stands tall next to the Boris Denev State Gallery, the Yantra River, at the feet of the Sveta Gora Hill and overlooking the beautiful traditional Bulgarian houses of the Old Town.


The Asenevtsi were three brothers named Asen, Petar and Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II was the son of Asen. Asen and Peter liberated Bulgaria from Byzantine rule. Kaloyan turned Bulgaria into one of the main forces in Eastern Europe and was the first and only Bulgarian ruler that defeated army of crusaders. Ivan Asen further expanded Bulgarian territory (extending it to three seas – the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Adriatic Sea) and power by diplomatic means and marriages .


During the rule of these four tsars, Bulgaria reached its zenith and Veliko Tarnovo became the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.


The Asenevtsi Monument was built in 1985 to commemorate 800 years since the rebellion of the brothers Asen and Peter. The tall sword pointing to the skies and situated in the middle of the ensemble symbolizes the power of Medieval Bulgaria. Starting from the tsars facing the gallery, from left to right you see Asen, Petar, Kaloyan and Ivan Asen, each bearing features that characterised them and their rule.


The monument and the surrounding park are a favourite recreation place for Tarnovians and guests of the Old Capital, as well as a summer scene and venue for cultural and musical events, such as the Dixie Jazz Festival and most events from the Art Summer Project.