St. Archangel Michael Church, Tryavna
Tryavna is among the towns embodying the Bulgarian National Revival with its unique architecture, spirit and style. But the history of this place extends even further back into the mists of time as evidenced by some amazing epitomes of ages past. The St. Archangel Michael Church, for example, is one of the oldest historical monuments in Bulgaria and contributes greatly to the distinctive atmosphere of the old Clock Tower Square.
The history of the church is shrouded in obscurity. Legend has it that each of the three Asen brothers (i.e. the Asen dynasty or Asenevtsi) built a church near Veliko Tarnovo to honor their victory over the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos in 1190. All three churches, located, respectively, in Tryavna, Dryanovo and Prisovo, bear the name of Archangel Michael.
The one in Tryavna was burned to the ground in 1798 and was later restored by the local people. The new building didn’t go unnoticed and the Ottoman authorities threatened to demolish it. The people of Tryavna blackened the inside of the church with straw-burning smoke, managed to convince the Ottomans that the temple is not new and kept it safe from harm. The Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levski himself had come here repeatedly.
Between 1851 and 1866 the church issued its own coins, called bancheta. At present, there’s a museum exhibition here and the preserved icons and iconostasis, created by prominent carvers and painters from the Tryavna School of Art, still evoke admiration.