The town of Veliko Tarnovo (population 74 800 inhabitants) is situated in central Bulgaria, at the foot of Stara Planina, 210 meters above the sea level. It is regally situated along the historical hills of Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, on the two banks of Yantra River. The town lies at almost same distance from the biggest Bulgarian towns – 241 km northeast of Sofia, 228 km southwest of Varna, 192 km northeast of Plovdiv, and 224 km northwest of Burgas. The old metropolis of Bulgaria is a regional centre. The favourable climate, the presence of numerous natural and historical landmarks, and the development of the national crafts offer great opportunities for development of tourism.
Veliko Tarnovo is the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1393). One of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria, also known as the City of Tsars (kings), a historical, cultural, transport, industrial and tourist centre of modern Bulgaria. The precipitously perched houses and medieval fortifications girdling the Tsarevets massif add melodrama to the scene. Le Corbusier raved about Tarnovo's "organic" architecture, and even the dour Prussian Field Marshal Helmut Von Moltke was moved to remark that he had "never seen a town of more romantic location". Inheriting centuries-old Prehistoric, Thracian and Antique culture, and sitting on the gorge of Yantra River, many streets are lined with traditional houses, and above the town the ruined citadel on Tsarevets Hill recalls the time when this was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Tarnovo Schools of Literature and Arts were also established and developed here, paving the way for remarkable architectural monuments to be created.
Veliko Tarnovo is a town with rich and glorious historical past. The earliest traces were found on the Trapezitsa Hill from the first half of the 3 rd Millennium BC Remnants on Tsarevets Hill date back to the end of Bronze era (13th century BC) The oldest settlement was inhabited by Thracians and exited by the end of the Iron era. The following inhabitants were the Byzantines. In 8th century a big Slav-Bulgarian settlement was built there. At the end of the 10th century the elevations of Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora were densely populated and in the 12th century Veliko Tarnovo was a fortified town and a significant economic center.
The origin of the name is related to the Slavonic word "tern" or "turn" (thorn) and during the years it developed into Ternov, Trunov, Tarnov, Tarnovgrad, Tarnovo, and Veliko Tarnovo, called Veliko (Great) in relation to its size, beauty and grandeur. In 1187 Uprising of Assen and Petar (brothers and noblemen), the Byzantine rule was thrown off, and they proclaimed Veliko Turnovo capital of the restored Bulgarian Kingdom. During the 13th and 14th centuries the town became a significant political, economic, trade and cultural centre in Europe. This material and spiritual upsurge was discontinued on 17th of July 1393, when the whole of Bulgaria was conquered by the Turks.
During the Revival Period the town experienced a new economic, cultural and political upsurge. Crafts developed, trade flourished, beautiful houses, public buildings and churches were built. Veliko Tarnovo became a center of the struggles for ecclesiastical and national independence. On the 7th of July 1877 Veliko Tarnovo was free again. On the 16th of April 1879 the Tarnovo Constitution, one of the most democratic constitutions in Europe at that time, is passed there. On 17.04.1879 the first Great National Assembly of liberated Bulgaria convened in Veliko Tarnovo. It was namely there that on 06.09.1885 the acknowledge of the union of the Principality Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia was made.
Although Sofia became the capital of United Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo continued to be a bastion of the Bulgarian national spirit, and self-awareness.