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Bulgarian Revival Architecture, Traditional Houses & Homes Part I


The architecture of the Bulgarian Revival (from the late 1780s to 1878) reflects the general economic, political and cultural progress in the life of the Bulgarian people.


The development of crafts and trades causes the migration of many Bulgarians to towns and cities (Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse, Vidin, Sliven, Veliko Tarnovo, etc.). gradually changing the urban landscape.


Typically, such crafts and trades towns have non-geometrical development plans and picturesque spatial compositions, organically related to the peculiarities of the area and the concentration of crafts and trades sectors distributed around the main street (bazaar), e.g. the Samovodska Charshia in Veliko Tarnovo.


The appearance of some settlements (like those in Tryavna) is determined by the joining of the two-level development of the main street, while others (like in Koprivshtitsa) are characterised by high-wall enclosed properties with large gates.


Due to being under the Ottoman rule, Bulgaria was in complete cultural isolation during that time. The Revival Period puts an end to the “anonymous” building and art-making. Names of master-builders and artists start to appear on church walls and buildings – the walls of the Rila Monastery are signed by Alexi Rilets and Master Milenko, the Hadjidimitrov House in Karlovo by Masters Spas, Ivan and Non; the Dzhambazova House in Karlovo by Master Patyo, and others). Widely acclaimed during the late Revival Period are masters Gencho, Nikola Fichev (aka Kolyu Ficheto, see the House with the Monkey) and his teacher Master Velyo, each with their own architectural style.


Housing construction takes up a significant part of the revival residential architecture, which in turn influences the types of houses built during this period. Depending on their geographic location, experts usually distinguish between Western, Teteven, Koprivshtitsa, Tryavna, Zheravna, Rhodope, Stranddzha, Black Sea, Plovdiv style of traditional Bulgarian houses.


Such Bulgaria homes are also grouped by different features, depending on:

  • the topographical nature of the area – mountain houses and “field” houses (those in flat areas)
  • the prevailing building materials – stone, wood, adobe (sun-dried brick), wattle and mixed;
  • the construction – with bearing walls, beamed, half-timbered and mixed
  • the planning – with or without chardak (chardak is a traditional spacious non-windowed balcony; the term is used to describe the balconies on traditional Bulgarian properties)
  • the composition – symmetric and asymmetric, and the like.

To be continued…

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Future of Old Town Veliko Tarnovo

The lack of detailed development plan for the Old Town of Veliko Tarnovo has lead to the collapse of many beautiful Bulgarian houses, apartments and historic buildings, reports Evrokom Tsarevets, a local TV channel, thus hindering investment in the town.


According to the Chief architect Nikolay Malakov, the main reason for the unfortunate state of Veliko Tarnovo properties in the Old Part is the lack of clear objectives concerning the future of the area.


Preparation of a masterplan for the reconstruction and development of the old part of Veliko Tarnovo is a difficult task. The problems every development plan faces in this part of the town are of varied nature – the specific terrain of Veliko Tarnovo, the historic image that needs to be preserved and the creature comforts that still need to be met.


Seems like the administration of local planning agency is finally taking steps for preservation, however. Detailed plans and requirements for façades of important streets, such as “Nezavisimost” have already been made and will be distributed to owners of properties on chosen streets.


Hopefully, more steps towards the conservation of traditional and Revival period buildings will be taken.  Who knows, it might just give Veliko Tarnovo a much needed boost for European Cultural Capital in 2019.

News, Property News

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.

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New shopping centre in Veliko Tarnovo

Poltava building, currently

current look of the Poltava building

The famous Poltava Building in Veliko Tarnovo gets a fresh face-lift. The premises are set to have a shopping centre with a café, restaurant and gym. It is expected to be open to public this summer.


Hectic renovation works have been going on for a few months now. The restaurant will be open by March 22, just in time for the Official Holiday of Veliko Tarnovo.


A little known fact about Poltava is that it is a typical example of the architectural style brutalism. This style started in England in 1954  and became popular in the 60s. It is characterised by simplified and crude building facades without any decoration and celebrating the natural structure of materials –  the concrete, steel, brick and glass. Currently, the style is very popular in Israel and Latin America. Many prestigious American and British universities and court buildings are also built in this manner.

News, Property News

Veliko Tarnovo – the best Bulgarian town to live in!

New museum in Veliko Turnovo for 2013

Tsarevets Castle

Veliko Tarnovo is competing to be the best place to live in Bulgaria. The poll is organised by a national radio and a  daily.

The best city to live is determined by a national survey. For a month and a half, the 2 media outlets will be gathering all sorts of information about the living quality and standards in towns all over Bulgaria.

Criteria such as investments, bicycle lanes, number of kindergartens, stray dogs, unemployment rates, sports facilities, parking issues, free Wi-Fi from a total of 29 will be taken into consideration

27 regional towns are participating in the battle for the best city to live. Naturally, the city with the highest number of votes will receive a special prize. Veliko Tarnovo has been voted “most beautiful Bulgarian town” for 2008 and 2010!

Currently the town is in the top 10, beating the capital which is ranked 21st!