L0057 Tsarevets Fortress
Local Name: Царевец
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
GPS: 43.083328, 25.651265
In the year 1185, three brothers led a bloody rebellion against Bulgaria’s Byzantine overlords.
After their success to free Bulgaria, they designated an already heavily fortified city to be the capital of the Second Bulgarian Tzardom.
The town was called Tsarevgrad Turnov or the Kings’ town of Turnov.
This was the beginning of the Assen Dynasty, and the fortress which they built on a brilliantly strategic peninsula hill, became the castle from which the Assen Dynasty would rule for over two centuries.
Further fortifications, together with the Main Entrance, North-west Gate, South-east Gate, and battle towers were later constructed during the reign of Tzar Ivan Asen II.
The tower at the southeast end of the fortress is known as Baldwin’s. According to the legend, the captured by Kaloyan the Latin Emperor Baldwin Flanders was here.
Tsarevets was the fortress residence of the Tsar, and it was synonymous with greatness, glory and wealth.
Tsarevets Fortress became the political, administrative, military, religious, and cultural center for all of Bulgaria.
In the main citadel you could find the Tzarr’s and Patriarchs buildings, 23 churches and 4 monasteries.
A dominant place in the palace and fortress occupied the royal complex and the patriarchal complex. In the palace of Bulgarian kings live the mediaeval rulers and their associates, who draw up and implement the overall policy of the state. It is the most impressive and monumental ensemble in the capital, with area of 2872 square meters. During XII – XIV century it underwent several renovations. It is protected on all sides by a massive fortress wall and towers. There are buildings with ornate facades inside. The throne-room and the private chambers of the ruler have magnificent interior. The king’s administration offices and a number of buildings with food, hygienic and economic purposes were in the palace. The relics of the revered Bulgarian saint – St. Petka were in the royal church. Some of the Bulgarian kings ruled in the XIV century are buried in this temple.
On the highest part of the hill dominates the impressive building of the Patriarchy with the cathedral “Ascension of the Lord”, the monastery and the palace of the head of the Bulgarian church.
Archaeological excavations have also uncovered the foundations of 470 residential buildings.
Archaeologists began their study of Tsarevets in the early 20th century. By the 1960s and 1970s, the entire hill was almost completely excavated.
Under the ruins of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom were found remains of buildings of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, from the Early Byzantine and Roman times.
The fortress walls and buildings were partially restored in the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, Tsarevets has been transformed into an architectural and museum reserve.
This is a unique place to walk the halls of the great kings of Bulgaria. Meander through the residential areas, keeping watch over the wall for invading armies.
And imagine what life must have been like in this densely populated hilltop fortress.
SizzleMap films created in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria are produced in collaboration with
TAM – Space for Art and Social Initiatives.
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