12-13 August, 2011
Another lovely, photogenic Bulgarian town. Veliko Tarnovo is built alongside (and up the steep banks) of the River Yantra which snakes along down in the gorge, with a couple of sharp S-bends. This has created an “almost-island”, accessed from the Old Town by pedestrian bridge, on which is situated the 80s “Monument of the 4 Kings”. I wondered why the Communists would have erected a monument to royalty, but I concluded that nationalism always trumps communism in the Balkans.
Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of the second Bulgarian kingdom (12th-14th c. AD). The first was subsumed by Byzantium, while the second succumbed to the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years.
The ancient walls on top of the hill above the town enclose ruins of houses, the Royal Palace and (Orthodox Christian) Patriarch’s complex.
Off tomorrow morning by train to Ruse (pr. roo-say), on the Danube River, the border between Bulgaria and Romania.