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Tsarevets Fortress
Dimitar Ruykov

Tsarevets Fortress

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Architectural and historical reserve "Tsarevets" is situated on a hill in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo. The earliest evidence of human presence on the hill dates from the 3rd millennium BC. In the period between the 5 - 7th centuries BC, the Zikideva city was situated here - the largest of the Byzantine Empire’s cities in the province of Lower Moesia. On the grounds of the Byzantine fortress, the construction of the Bulgarian stronghold was begun in the 12th century.

 

"Tsarevets"- served as the Second Bulgarian Empire's (1185-1393) primary fortress - has three still preserved gates. The main one is at the hill’s westernmost part, King Asen’s gate (or "The Small gate") is at the northwest part and the Frankhisarska gate is to the southeast. The latter is guarded by a tower known as the "Baldwin’s Tower." Legends have it that in the epic Battle of Adrianople in 1205, King Kaloyan captured the Latin Emperor Baldwin I (Baldwin of Flanders). The emperor remained imprisoned in this tower until the end of his life.

 

The palace and the patriarchal complex were located on the hill’s central parts – Kaleto (lit.“The Calais”). The palace features Throne and Royal halls and a royal residential part. The Patriarchal complex served as a residence of the Bulgarian patriarchs and is located on top of the hill.

 

The restoration of the castle began in the 1930s and continued till 1981, when it was completed on the occasion of the 1300thanniversary of the First Bulgarian Empire.

 

Nowadays, a spectacular audio-visual show "Sound and Light" recreates the glorious and tragic past of the country. Dramatic and inspiring music, combined with hundreds of colored lights, laser beams and the sound of church bells ringing, highlight important moments in the Second Bulgarian Kingdom’s history.

 

The Architectural Reserve "Tsarevets" is among the “One hundred tourist sites of Bulgaria”.

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