First we head towards the Shipka Memorial Church which is an outstanding Bulgarian Orthodox temple built between 1885 and 1902 near Shipka town at the foothills of the Balkan Range. The Shipka Monument complex is dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers who died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo – Turkish War in 1877-78.
Next we cross the Shipka pass to arrive in Arbanassi – one of Bulgaria’s most remarkable villages. It is known for the rich history and large number of historical monuments, such as 17-th and 18-th century churches and examples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture. We discover the oldest church in the village – Nativity of Christ (1637 – 1649), dug into the ground without a belfry and with hidden cupola. This impressive monument, fully painted from the inside is a genuine art gallery of murals with over 3 500 stunningly realistic figures and Biblical scenes, painted by unknown artists throughout the ages. Our next stop is the Konstantsalieva house museum originally built in the 17-th century and beautifully restored in National Revival style. It reflects not only the wealth of the owners but also the attention to detail and the quality craftsmanship of that time.
From Arbanassi we proceed to one of the most amazing landmarks of Bulgaria – its former capital Veliko Tarnovo (population: 71 000). The charming town is amphitheatrically situated at 210 m a. s. l. on the Yantra River. The historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom attracts many tourists with its unique architecture and beautiful landscapes. The first site we explore in town is the imposing Tsarevets Fortress – a medieval stronghold located on a hill with the same name.
Tsarevets served as Bulgarian Empire’s primary fortress and strongest bulwark from 1185 to 1393. Then we go for a walk along the lovely Veliko Tarnovo main street, the picturesque Gourko Street and the authentic Samovodska Charshiya Street in the Old Town where we see some crafts exhibits, pieces of art and traditional souvenirs.
Period: Year round
Trip duration: 11 hours
Included: English speaking tour guide, transfers from/to your hotel in Plovdiv
Not included: Tsarevets Fortress entrance fee (3 EUR), Church of the Nativity of Christ entrance fee (3 EUR), Konstantsalieva house entrance fee (3 EUR), food and tips
Note: If your travel in Bulgaria continues in North Bulgaria you can easily use this day trip as a transfer to your hotel in Veliko Tarnovo too. After the end of the tour the guide can drop you off at your local accommodation. Vice-versa is also possible – to be collected from your Veliko Tarnovo hotel and after exploring the city and Arbanassi to get transferred to your accommodation in Plovdiv.