Veliko Tarnovo’s Tsarevets Fortress

The Tsarevets Fortress is Veiko Tanovo’s main tourist attraction and for good reason.  The fortress dates back to the 12th century where it served as the royal houses of the patriarchs of what is now called Bulgaria.  The fortress has an amazing past and it is a must see if visiting Veliko Tarnovo.

The Ottoman army invaded in 1393 and besieged the fortress for three days.   They were eventually successful in breaching the fortress and they burned it to the ground.  Fortunately, Bulgaria began a restoration effort which began in 1930 and was completed in 1981.  This commemorated the 1300 anniversary of the country of Bulgaria (source taken from tourist office).

I began my visit by walking through the main gate and was quickly stopped and asked to buy a ticket close to the main road.  There will be a sign that says tickets.  Obviously, I missed the sign and figured the man at the booth in front of the fortress would charge me.  That’s just not how it works.  Anyway, the cost for visiting the fortress is 6.00 Lev for adults.  The hours are from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Walking to the main gate of the fortress.

Walking to the main gate of the fortress.

I have seen some amazing castles in Europe, but this was enormous.  I would compare it with the fortress in Sintra, Portugal.  The walls are long and stretch for hundreds of yards.

Fortress walls.

Fortress walls.

Once you pass the main gate and walk into the fortress grounds you will be confused on which direction to go.  You can go left or right.  I chose left and walked towards stairs that lead up towards the church at the top of the hill.

Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God

The cathedral was built on top of an earlier Roman church and was constructed during the 1970s and 1980s.  The interior of the cathedral is beautifully designed and the painting inside are inspiring.

There is no cost to enter the cathedral, however for a fee of 4.0 Lev you can take an elevator to the top of the church tower.  The elevator is located on the opposite side of the cathedral entrance.

The views from the top of the tower are breathtaking.

View from the tower.

View from the tower.

Dome of the cathedral.

Dome of the cathedral.

Walking Down from the Cathedral

I slowly made my way down from the cathedral taking as many photos as I could.  I wanted to make the long walk to Baldwin’s Tower, but I had a twisted ankle and decided to stick to the tower walls and take photos.

Luckily, the weather was gorgeous.  There was a nice wind blowing and it added to the experience.  I walked around as best I could trying to think back on how people lived and what their daily lives were like during medieval times.


Over all, I had a fun time visiting the fortress.  I spent nearly 3 hours at the fortress, but I feel you could spend less time there than I did.  The fortress’ history, design, and modern restoration makes it a must see when visiting Bulgaria.  I could have spent a full day here if it were not for a bummed ankle.  If you have visited the fortress or are planning to visit please insert your comments below.  Enjoy!

Follow the bull.

Follow the bull.


Copyright 2014 TORO Media, LLC

One Comment on “Veliko Tarnovo’s Tsarevets Fortress

  1. Pingback: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria | History Hiker

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