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A Brief History of Samovodska Charshia, Veliko Tarnovo

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Sometimes we get people coming through the door at our Bulgarian properties agency, who ask directions to this famous Veliko Tarnovo street.

Luckily our office is not only next to the famous HOUSE WITH THE MONKEY, but SAMOVODSKA Charshia is just down the street.

The picture you see on the left is the recently designed logo of the Samovodska Charshia, given to craftsmen and artisans at the street and a sign that is all hand-made right there in the shop you buy it from.

The logo is designed by Damyan Bumbalov, a resident Veliko Tarnovian artist, who is also co-running the Taralezh Art Gallery.

So how did this street came about? This was a street, where you could find everything. Especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, which were and still are regarded as market days here.

In the second half of the 19th century, when Veliko Tarnovo began to grow to the west of Bazhdarlick Square, the Samovodska Charshia developed as an economic centre. Women from the nearby village of Samovodene used to come here on market days, put down small rugs before them, pile their vegetables and sell them. This is where its name came from, the Samovodene Market. Along the pavements from the bakery to Hadzhi Nikoli Inn village women from Belyakovets sold milk, butter and cheese.

On market days it was one of the most lively places in the town. It consisted of two streets lined with shops, craftsmen workshops and inns. One of them began at a small square known as Oun (the name originates from Turkish meaning flour) Pazar (today Samovodska Charshia Square), and continued along the street which led to the Dryanovo Inn (at the place of the “Modern Theatre” Cinema, recently demolished). There were many other inns hereabouts, those of Hadzhi David and Hadzhi Veliko, Atanas Yonoolou’s and Hadzhi Nikoli’s, a grocer’s shop, a sandal maker, blacksmith and other craftsmen’s shops and workshops.

After the Liberation from Ottoman rule, this part of the town kept its traditions as a craftsmen market during the National Revival period. Its architectural aspect is formed by stone walls with large double gates, old Veliko Tarnovo property and traditional Bulgarian houses with glazed verandas and balconies overlooking the market and the street, surrounded by lovely wrought iron parapets.


There were three bakeries here for simit (circular bread), special round flat loaves of bread called pitti, bread rings, etc. The bakers made kadaif, a Turkish pastry, halva, a sweet made from sesame, and sold popcorn, boza, a local drink made from fermented millet seed, and home-made pickles.

There were more shops and workshops, huddled close together along the street leading from the Samovodska Charshia to the Dryanovo Inn, where you could find a slipper-maker, a knitter, a tailor who made trousers, a grocer, a blacksmith, the kafedzhiya who sold Turkish coffee, and a barber.

The shops which formed the façade of the Hadji Nikoli Inn housed a cotton ginner, a grocer, a jeweller, another kafedzhiya and a shekerdzhiya (a confectioner).

Alongside the craftsmen’s workshops, there were the smaller shops, where flour, bran, cereals, as well as wine were sold. Up until the ’30s of the 20th century wooden red sheds opposite Hadji Nikoli Inn housed tanners, sandal-makers from Asenova Mahala, who sold their whips, saddles, sandals, shoes and anything made of leather.

The old traditions connected with this part of the Revival period, and the wish to revive the national crafts as part of the Bulgarian artistic heritage led to the idea of restoring the craftsmen marketplace.

Today it is a living museum in Veliko Tarnovo. The centre consists of restored Bulgaria homes from the National Revival and Post-Liberation periods, dating back to the second half to the end of the 19th century.

There are various craftsmen workshops at work in the Samovodska Charshia today: a potter, an armourer, a coppersmith, a carver, a confectioner, a weaver, an icon painter’s studio, a photographer, a workshop where kadaif is made, and a bakery. In this way the centre recreates the atmosphere of the first decades of the 20th century.


The richest collection of Roman coins from Deultum exhibited in Veliko Tarnovo

Deultum coins

Deultum coins

Three hundred coins, which are part of the richest collection of Roman coins from the Roman colony Deultum are arranged in an exhibition at the Hadji Nikoli Inn in Veliko Tarnovo.

The Roman Colony of Deultum (situated 17 km south-west of Burgas) was established in the beginning of the 70s of the 1st century, during the ruling of emperor Titus Flavius Vespasian, by the veterans of the 8th Augustan Legion. This is the only colony of free Roman citizens on Bulgarian territory.

Deultum coins are owned by dozens of museums at home and abroad, but the most complete collection is owned by the Numismatic Museum in Ruse. It contains 2010 articles and includes hundreds of coin types and variations.

Over 30 of the coins are unique and have no similarities with coins in any museum in the world. The visiting exhibition of the first private museum in Bulgaria has opened yesterday. 250 object made of gold, silver, bronze and glass are arranged at the exhibition room of the Inn.




Rising foreign interest in Veliko Tarnovo


Veliko Tarnovo coat of arms

Representatives of Austrian companies are expected to visit Veliko Tarnovo. The businessmen will be led by the Austrian Ambassador Gerhard Reiweger, who is visiting town for the opening concert of Austrian Music Weeks in the Old Capital.

The diplomat  will support Municipality’s application for EU funding for infrastructure projects, tourism and sports facilities.

In mid-May, a delegation from the Italian city of Ferrara are also visiting the Old Bulgarian capital. The city of Ferrara, too, is applying for the European Capital of Culture in 2019 and the governors of the two cities will share experience and opportunities for collaboration & partnership.

The Prime Minister Marin Raikov suggested that Veliko Tarnovo should also partner with a French city, which like Veliko Tarnovo has a rich cultural heritage. Following a French fashion, the municipality will pass an ordinance that will  oblige the owners of traditional graded/listed Bulgarian houses to renovate them, informed  Mayor Daniel Panov.

He also added that on April 18, the Ambassador of Ukraine (who has Bulgarian roots) will also visit the Boyar town and attend the International Exhibition for Cultural Tourism.

Last week the Mayor hosted 60 diplomats from all over the world.


Sixty diplomats arrive tomorrow in Veliko Tarnovo

Warders of Tsarevgrad Tarnovo

Warders of Tsarevgrad Tarnovo

Sixty diplomats from around the world arrive tomorrow for their visit in Veliko Tarnovo. Diplomatic corps will be accompanied by the Bulgarian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister Marin Raikov. They are visiting the Old Bulgarian Capital at the invitation of Mayor Daniel Panov.

The Mayor is holding a presentation at the Museum of Revival and Constitution Assembly at 2 pm tomorrow regarding Veliko Tarnovo’s application for European Capital of Culture in 2019.

After the presentation, the guests will watch the mini-spectacle “Warders of Tsarevgrad Tarnovo” at the Tsar Asen I Square and will take a stroll through the Samovodska Charshia (bazaar).

The last time Diplomatic corps were in Veliko Tarnovo was 14 years ago.


Saint George’s Church in Arbanasi

St George's Church in Arbanasi

St George’s Church in Arbanasi

The Church of Saint George, or Sveti Georgi in Bulgarian, is located at the southwester part of the historical village of Arbanasi, 5 minutes from Veliko Tarnovo. It is a massive stone building  sized 21 x 10 metres, with a two-slope roof. It has a single nave and apse, with a narthex to the west and a gallery to the north.

Built at the end of 17th & beginning of 18th centuries, the church has kept its authentic look. An inscription above the door on the western naos reads that the frescoes were painted in 1709-1710 “by the hands of teachers Hristo and Stoyo”. The frescoes were painted on the walls of the naos (the central space in front of the altar) and on the eastern wall of the narthex (the westernmost transverse part of an Orthodox Church).

The iconographic cycles presented are those of the Great Christian Holidays, the Passions of Christ and the Post-Easter Cycle.

Archaeological and architectural surveys have revealed that within the current naos and earlier temple existed. It consisted of an altar, naos and narthex under a single massive vault and was built in the second part of the 16th century. In the mid-seventies of the 20th century the Italian restorer Sergio Pigazzini removed the frescoes and the church remained closed for decades.

In 2009 the Ministry of Culture initiated a project for restoration and preservation of St George’s Church, funded with EU funds. 200 sqm of the original frescoes were restored and reapplied to the church walls. The church yard was also renovated.

The church is now open for visitors and included in the tourist route, following the late medieval Arbanasi churches.