Sokolski Monastery is a beautiful Orthodox Monastery in the Veliko Tarnovo area, situated about 10 km southeast of Gabrovo and very close to the ethnographic complex Etara. It can be reached via regular public transport from Gabrovo or via a beautiful and easy 2-hour hiking trail from Etara.
Even though the Monastery is less than 200 years old, there are quite a few legends that go along with it. One of them is about the abyss next to the Monastery. The legend has it that during the Ottoman rule many young Bulgarian maidens met their death here – they chose to jump down and die rather than change their religious beliefs and convert to Islam.
Another legend hovers about the beautiful stone basin in the monastery yard. It has 8 falcon-shaped faucets and is believed to never dry out. They say that its water can cure many diseases and protect from evil spells. In the St Pantaleimon Chapel next to the Church you can see a rock in the cracks of which pilgrims leave notes with wishes. The water that runs from underneath this rock is believed to have healing powers as well.
Plan a longer time to spend at the Sokolski Monastery if possible since there is a lot to see inside and in the beautiful Stara Planina surroundings. There is a scenic picnic spot in front of the monastery and the walking trails around are incredible.
View at Asenov Quarter
The Asenov Quarter of Veliko Tarnovo is located at the foothills of the Tsarevets Hill and Trapezitsa Hills and on both sides of the Yantra. The location became populated as early as the first rulers of the Asenevtsi dynasty and it was first mentioned as a distinct neighbourhood in written sources dating back to the 18th century.
The neighbourhood cam about when the city grew and the two hills did not offer much space for the growing population. After Tsarevets and Trapezitsa Fortresses were built, there were two transverse walls descending to the river that used provide protection to this part of the medieval city.
Remains of such those wall were found during archaeological excavations of south of the main entrance of Tsaravets. In construction works in 1981, remains of a watch tower were unearthed near the Bishop’s Bridge.
Bishop’s Bridge / Vladishki Most
Today important cultural sites are preserved in the Asenov Quarter – Churches of St. Demetrius, St. Forty Martyrs, St. George and St. St. Peter and Paul, which are subject to archaeological, historical and artistic research, conservation and restoration.
Tsarevets fortress is probably one of the most widely visited historical sites in Bulgaria. The hill on which it was built is close to the centre of the modern town of Veliko Tarnovo.
There are several city buses that can take you to the Ivan Asen II square in front of the castle.The fortress is open for visits throughout the year:
- 8 am – 7 pm from April till October
- 9 am – 5 pm from November till March.
Entrance fee to Tsarevets is 6 leva but there is a free admission each last Thursday of the month.
The spectacular Sound and Light show recreates the tragic history of Tsarevets, Veliki Tarnov and the Second Bulgarian Kingdom through colourful light and laser effects, church bells and dramatic music.
Since this is an open site you should bear in mind the usual rules and precautions, such as: move only along the lanes, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, be prepared to encounter insects and reptiles, abide the signs, etc.
Archaeological Museum Veliko Tarnovo
You can reach the museum by public transport if you take any of these bus lines: 20,40,50,110 and get off at Tsarevets.
Little to no information about the beautiful building of the museum can be found at this time. The Archaelogical Exposition of Veliko Tarnovo‘s Museum of History is on display in an old historical building close to the Tsarevets hill. It boasts a 130-old tradition and a permanent exhibition dedicated to the fascinating history, culture and lifestyle of the medieval Bulgarian capital.
Open Tuesday-Sunday from 09:00 till 17:00, the Museum offers free entry each last Thursday of the month. Discounts for students, groups, families and senior citizens apply. Guided tours are available at extra charge.
Address: Devetaki Village, near Lovech, Veliko Tarnovo Region
Latitude / Longitude: 43.236158, 24.895392
Tip: Devetashka Cave is closed for visits during the bats’ breeding season between 1 June and 31 July
The Devetashka cave is an enormous picturesque cave with 2 galleries, 11 lakes and 14 springs. You can see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, rivulets, majestic natural domes and arches.
There is no security and no entrance fees (for now). However, there is no public transport connection and no direct access by car (and there shouldn’t be), so you will have to park just after the bridge of the Devetaki village, which is about 85 km from Veliko Tarnovo and 20 km from Lovech.
Once you have parked your car, follow the signs and walk down the trail for about 1 km. You will then reach the entrance of the Devetashka Cave, one of the biggest caves in Bulgaria and the home of more than 30 000 bats. Make sure you wear the appropriate shoes and clothes.
Fair warning, not all the spots in the Devetashka Cave can be accessed by regular tourists, some require special expertise alongside caving and sailing equipment.
Should you decide to stay overnight before or after your visit, the area offers some good options of small family-run B&Bs along the Osam river. Alternatively, you can check in a hotel in Lovech, which is the closest (20 km) bigger town nearby and provides more sights and attractions and a bigger choice of dining options.
Mindya Rock Fest Poster
15 bands will perform at this year’s Mindya Rock Fest. Established Bulgarian bands, as well as local formations will entertain the rock and blues fans for the fifth consecutive year.
The festival will take place between 22-24 August at the central square of Mindya village, organised by Mindya Rock Fest foundation with the support of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality.
The first edition of the festival was held in 2009, after the initiative of science professor Evgeniy Dainov and his English friends.
This year for the first time the event starts with “zero day”, 22 August, when young bands will compete in front of a jury. The band which gets most of the jury’s votes wins free of charge recording session.
The remaining two days will feature regular participants in the festival. Among the supporting events of the festival are book sales, unique ethnographic items and local folk ensemble performances.
Uspenie Bogorodichno (Assumption of the Virgin Mary) Monastery is located in the north-eastern part of Arbanasi, 6km from Veliko Tarnovo, and was supposedly built in the Middle Ages.
The monastery church is a low, single isle, single apse building with two narthexes and a relatively large Holy Trinity Chapel. New residential and supporting buidings were built in 1716 by abbot Danail from Troyan. In 1798 the so called “Kardzhalii” brigands destroyed the monastery, and it was restored later.
Murals in the nave are painted by unknown master painters around 1600 and those in the women section of the church date back to 1603. An inscription on the chapel entrance tells us the names of the icons painter Daskal (teacher) Kosta, Tsonyu and Goergi and the year 1704 when the murals were painted. Many 17th-18th century icons can be seen in the church, most valuable among them being the miraculous Holy Mother of God – Troeruchitsa (three-handed). It is place at the entrance (narthex) of the church.
The holy icon is lined with silver relief,donated at a later stage by a local merchant, whose child was curedafter prayers in front of the icon. It is believed that through the years a great number people, coming to pray to the icon were healed. That’s why thousands of worshippers gather at the monastery on August 15 on Great St. Mary’s Day.