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Emen Canyon, Veliko Tarnovo Area


Emen Canyon

The village of Emen is located in a picturesque hilly area 20 km west of Veliko Tanovo and 8 km north from the main road connecting Sofia and Varna. The Emen Canyon is close to the village and shaped by the Negovanka River. Only 60 km long, the river flows north of the Balkan range and is right tributary of Rositsa River.

Negovanka forms a magnificent gorge, which in its most popular part, passes through the village of Emen. A beautiful walking trail built along the gorge, the river and the canyon gives you a great opportunity to explore this natural beauty. The Canyon is a protected area.

The walking trail passes on both sides of the gorge twisting at about 50 m height above the river. The canyon walls are 80-90m high cliffs where eagles nest.

Along the route there are remains from ancient Roman military station. The end of the trail leads to the most beautiful place along the gorge – the Momin Skok Waterfall, which falls into a small pond.

At the beginning of the trail you find the Emen Cave, which is more than 3 km long and is the 17th deepest cave in Bulgaria.

Emen Cave

Emen Cave

In the past the cave was used for growing of mushrooms, ripening of cheese and even as part of the military base, which used to exist above the cavern. Apart from the well-known Emen Cave, in the period 1985 – 1991 a large local network of caves was discovered. Located between the nearby villages of Musina, Balvan, Novo Selo, Emen, Dobromirka and Vishovgrad, this cave network features numerous dry and water-filled galleries and siphons. Among those caves are Ruse (3306 m long), Bambalova dupka (2923 m) and Troana (3243 m).


St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day in Veliko Tarnovo

Festive procession on May 24, 1940s

Festive procession on May 24, 1940s

Veliko Tarnovo and the rest of Bulgaria celebrate St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day tomorrow with a range of events.


The day is a public holiday and is known as the Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day. On this day Bulgaria celebrates in Bulgarian culture, education and the creation of the Glagolitic alphabet by the two brothers Cyril and Methodius.


Saints Cyril and Methodius are patrons of the National Library of Bulgaria and generally patrons of educational institutions in Bulgaria. They are the patrons of the University of Veliko Tarnovo, which carries the saints names.


Indeed, saints Cyril and Methodius are the most celebrated saints in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and icons of the two brothers can be found in almost every church.


The events programme for the day in Veliko Tarnovo includes:

10,00 h. – Festive procession, dedicated to the 24 May – Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture – from Velchova Zavera (Hotel Yantra) square to Konstantin Kisimov theatre


11,00 h. – Ceremony for award of „24 May” and „St. Patriarch Evtimyi” awards of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality – in front of Konstantin Kisimov Music and Drama Theatre


18,00 h. – Parade of the 2013 school graduates – along Vasil Levski Str., from Konstantin Kisimov theatre to Veliko Tarnovo Municipal building


21,30 h. – “Sound and Light” show at the Tsarevets Castle


Must see: Nicopolis ad Istrum

Nicopolis ad Istrum

Nicopolis ad Istrum

The Roman and Early Byzantine town Nicopolis ad Istrum is located 20 km north of Veliko Tarnovo on a low plateau on the left bank of the Rositsa, near the village of Nikyup.

The town was founded by the Roman Emperor Marcus Ulpius Trajanus (98-117) in memory of his victory over the Dacians in 106 AD.

Originally, Nicopolis was within the boundaries of the Provincia Thracia. At the beginning of 193 AD the town was transferred to Moesia Inferior. The town’s territory was arranged in residential areas, villas and marketplaces.

Nicopolis ad Istrum was arranged in very much the same manner like the Asia Minor towns like Efes, Nicea and Nikomedia. The town government was headed by the Council of Archons.

Nicoplis was home to settlers from Asia Minor, Thraciams and Roman veterans. The classical town  used the grid system of planning, in which streets run at right angles to each other.

A network of streets, the forum surrounded by an Ionic colonnade and a number of other buildings have been uncovered. The main gate of the town, called the Romana Gate, was on the west and facing Rome. The town square (agora) was a centre of economic. cultural and religious life.

This archaeological site was made more accessible to visitors only recently, after it received some development funding from the Ministry of Culture and an EU OP.


Features of Traditional Bulgarian Houses: Jamal

The traditional Bulgarian house is divided into several parts – residential and commercial. Back in the day, the residential part of every home regardless of the property status of its owner had a room with a common fireplace, where the lady of the house cooked and warmed water.


Traditional Bulgarian House

Traditional Bulgarian House

In the past winters were long and cold and people living in the mountainous areas used to heat their homes and themselves directly from fireplaces and hearths.


The fire from the hearth heated not only the living room but also an adjacent room. Usually, this was a bedroom where little ones and other family members slept, especially if the house belonged to wealthy Bulgarians.


This room was heated by a masonry stove called jamal or soba.





The jamal was fired by a special pallet stove. Often the jamal and the common fireplace were built close to each other, since they both used a common chimney.


common fireplace

common fireplace

In old houses in Bulgaria, usually the common fireplace and the jamal were connected, so the cooking heat could warm two rooms at the same time, thus saving the family some firewood.



Before the Liberation, primarily Turkish type of jamals were built in Bulgarian homes, which were made of ordinary bricks. The bricks resembled camels in shape and colour and this is how the name of the heating came about (the word for camel originates from the Arabic jamala, a verb meaning to carry).


These Turkish type of jamals had low and wide bottom and narrow and high top. This type of masonry of indoor stoves appeared in Bulgaria during the 18th century.


Over the 19th and the 20th centuries more complex and externally decorated jamals appeared in the traditional Bulgarian homes. They carry western influence and these types of jamals were usually called European or German, depending on where the appearance was inspired from.


Unlike the Turkish jamals, European jamals were built with small and narrow bricks. Most of them have their own oven and they were often decorated, which is what distinguishes them.


Both Turkish and European jamals have the same principle of heating. Once the fire is started, it heats the bricks. Then once the bricks are warm enough, the fire is left to smoulder until live coals remain. Then warmed bricks start to accumulate the heat and thus warming the rooms in the old Balkan houses.


Until the mid-twentieth century, most Bulgarian homes had more than one jamal. Usually a Turkish jamal on the first floor and a European type on the second. Unfortunately a large number of them were destroyed during the mid 70s of the last century.


Looking for a traditional property with such authentic features? Browse our character Bulgarian properties now!


Preobrazhenie Monastery, Veliko Tarnovo

The monastery bells, gift from Russian soldiers

The monastery bells, gift from Russian soldiers

Preobrazhenie (Holy Transfiguration of God) Monastery is located 7 km from Veliko Tarnovo and is the largest monastery in the area. It is established during the rule of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331 – 1371).

In medieval times, the monastery was located about 400 – 500 m south of its current location, as evidenced by archaeological research.

During the Ottoman rule the monastery was burned down a few times and eventually abandoned  and destroyed.

In 1825 after receiving permission from Sultan Mahmud Han II, a patriotic monk, father Zoticus of Rila Monastery, started to rebuild the monastery at its current location.

The construction of the main church “Transfiguration of Christ” started in 1834 by master-builder Dimitar Sofiyaliyata and was finished by the famous builder Kolyu Ficheto. The internal and external walls of the church were decorated  with frescoes between 1849 – 1851 by the great Bulgarian painter Zahari Zograph. Among the most impressive frescoes are The Last Judgement and The Wheel of Life.

In 1861 Kolyu Ficheto built the  seven-bell belfry with the clock. Two years later he built the small Annunciation church on top of the underground St. Andrew chapel.

During the Russo-Turkish Liberation War (1877 – 78) the monastery was converted into a military hospital. After the Bulgarian Liberation in 1878, the Russian  soldiers showed their gratitude by donating the bells, chadeliers and liturgical books for the church.

Currently the monastery is a functioning friary. Together with the invaluable frescoes, it possesses pricelss old books and icons. The monastery holiday is celebrated on August 6.


Long Night of Museums, Veliko Tarnovo 2013

Long Night Of Museums Veliko Tarnovo Poster

Long Night Of Museums Veliko Tarnovo Poster

VELIKO TARNOVO celebrates the Long Night of Museums tomorrow at the Sarafkina House, the local ethnographic museum and one of the finest examples of Bulgarian houses from the Revival Period.

An Ethnographic Night at The Museum marks Veliko Tarnovo’s participation in the European initiative “Long Night of Museums” on 18 May.

The event, celebrating the International Museum Day is organized by the Regional Museum of History in Veliko Tarnovo is dedicated to Ethnography and will take place at Sarafkina House on Gurko Street.

The event starts at 7 pm with a presentation of the pan-European initiative “Long Night of Museums” and opening of mini- exhibition and bazaar “Made with Love” of various needlework pieces, made by Sedyanka (working-bee) club.

A workshop “Try it yourself” will give all visitors the opportunity to learn how to do spinning, embroidery, knitting, shuttle lace, etc.

A small open stage will be provided for those who prefer to sing, play or narrate stories.

The audience will be shown a multimedia presentation called “Faces, hands and messages”, dedicated to traditional village and modern town crafts.

The museum’s permanent exhibition can be viewed over a glass of wine, while listening to traditional folk and urban tales and stories. From the windows, the yard and balconies of the house the visitors can enjoy the unique views of night time Veliko Tarnovo.

The Long Night of Museums will offer to the theatre addicts two performances at the lapidarium of the Archaeological museum: “Fireball”, based on Ivan Radoev’s play, presented by Starostolnitsa chamber theatre at 20,30 h. and –„Passions of the Word” a spectacle of the ALT – Students’ Experimental Theatre of the Faculty of Pedagogy of Veliko Tarnovo University at 22,00 h.


Veliko Tarnovo Chess Tournaments Week


Over 200 junior chess players are participating in this year Veliko Tarnovo Chess Tournament Week.

Four tournaments are being held between four age groups – up to 8 years old, between 8 and 12, and  12 – 14 (mixed boys and girls).

There are going to be seven rounds with 30 minutes per player according to the rules of Speed Chess.

Organizers of the “Tarnovska Tsaritsa” (Queen of Tarnovo) Junior Cup are members of the local Chess Club Etar.

The European Champions Tsvetan Stoyanov and Gabriela Antova are also attending the event, as well as the Hungarian and World Vice Champion, the Hungarian, Ana Marjanovic.

Tarnovska Tsaritsa opens today at Hotel Etar with an official conference and is only the beginning of the chess tournaments in Veliko Tarnovo.

The International Tournament for Men & Women “Old Capital” launches tomorrow. All Bulgarian and foreign players are eligible to participate the first open international tournament.The tournament is acknowledged for international ratings and titles. The playing time is 90 minutes per player + 30 seconds per move. Race will continue for six days and will end with a closing ceremony and awards.