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Tsarevets Castle in Veliko Turnovo retains magnetic pull

2010.01.08 Няма коментари
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by Nick Iliev

In spite of the global economic downturn, close to 271 000 tourists visited the Tsarevets Castle in the medieval Bulgarian capital Veliko Turnovo in 2009.

The number of visitors in 2009 was higher than in 2007 but eight per cent less than in 2008.

Visits to Tsarevets Castle last year saw visits peak around St George’s Day, celebrated in Bulgaria on May 6, and around the Easter holidays.

It is also often visited by people travelling to and from Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

Tsarevets is on a hill bearing the same name in Veliko Turnovo. The castle was the primary fortress of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces.

During the Middle Ages, armouries, residential buildings, craftsmen’s workshops and numerous churches and monasteries were accommodated within the walls of the fortress. Archaeological excavations have unearthed about 400 residential buildings, royal quarters, more than 22 churches and four monasteries.

Towering on the summit of the hill is the patriarchal complex. The frescoes inside depict conventional Christian subjects as well as “glorious and tragic” moments of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

One of the hallmarks of the castle complex is Baldwin’s Tower, strategically positioned in the south-eastern part of the fortress. It is on the site of the original medieval tower where Latin Emperor Baldwin I of Constantinople was executed as a prisoner of Tsar Kaloyan of Bulgaria.

Tsarevets was the paramount strategic and defensive installation in the country until 1393, when the castle was besieged by Ottoman forces for more than three months before being captured and subsequently sacked on July 17. The destruction of the castle marked the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Restoration of the building began in 1930, when the first of the three gates of the main entrance to the fortress were reconstructed.

The Baldwin Tower was among the first parts to be rebuilt, while the citadel on the top of the complex was reconstructed in 1981 and decorated four years later.

Today, a popular spectacle is the the Sound and Light (Zvuk i Svetlina) audiovisual show conducted in the evenings, using laser lights, floodlights, music and church bells.

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