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Veliko Turnovo

Veliko Turnovo - one of the most picturesque Bulgarian towns, standing in tiers above Yantra River, which meanders through the elevations of Turnovo and its three hills - Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora.  The town of Veliko Turnovo is located north of the Stara Planina Mountain (also known as the Balkan Mountain), 241 km northeast of Sofia. It has a population of 67 000 people. 

Known under the name of Tsarevgrad Turnov (i.e. King's Town) and Turnovgrad. In the town and its outskirts traces have been uncovered of life dating back to the late Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, the Bronze and the Iron Ages. It rises to significance during the years of the Byzantine rule (9th-12th centuries).  

After the foundation of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1186), the town became its capital. In that period, the town of Tsarevets had a major role in the political and spiritual life in Bulgaria. Tsarevets gives clear information for the might of the Bulgarian Tsar dynasties and the Bulgarian Patriarch influence, along with the spiritual activities in the once throne-town. Archaeological researches show significant and impressive civil, residential and cult buildings. The most monumental of them were the King's and Patriarch's Palaces. The exquisite architecture, the original and realistic murals in the churches, the colourful mosaics and handicraft masterpieces show the high disposition and artistic genius of Bulgarian masters, such as Zachary Zograph and Kolyo Ficheto. Ancient travellers wrote about the town of Turnovo, then known as Turnovgrad, as "the second in beauty and might after Constantinople". All the significant events in the thirteen-century-old Bulgaria are somehow related to this town. Turnovo witnessed great moments of our history, such as the Second Bulgarian Kingdom's apogee in 12th – 13th c., as well as the adoption of the First Bulgarian Constitution later in 1879. 

It was also a center of medieval Bulgarian coin minting. In the 13th-14th centuries in the town and its outskirts numerous literary schools, centers of educational and literary activity, sprang up.  

The Old Town areas are well preserved, with their terraced Bulgarian Renaissance houses with fine interior, handicraft workshops and cafйs. Today's travellers describe it as the most beautiful Bulgarian town. The audiovisual performance "Sound and Light", which embraces the Tsarevets Hill in lights and music and ringing bells is a truly unique attraction for the town visitors. 

Today the town of Veliko Turnovo is an administrative, economical and cultural centre.