Culture and Tradition near Veliko Tarnovo


Arbanasi, located 4 km northeast of Veliko Tarnovo, is among the most visited architectural reserves in this part of the country. The houses with their fortress-like stone walls and barred windows and their fabulous interior decorations are the reason why so many people are attracted to this village. Thanks to its churches and monasteries, the place has become an important stop in the spiritual journey of all those who wish to discover the soul of Bulgaria. The people who love food won’t be disappointed either. Arbanasi boasts some of the best traditional taverns on the territory of the country where strange words like kebabche, kyufte, Shopska salad and lyutenitsa find real meaning and transform into delicious national dishes that everyone should try. Oh, important notice: if you happen to be on a diet or you are a vegetarian, steer clear of the kebabche and kyufte! They are 100% meat!


50 km south of Veliko Tarnovo lies the Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex, the most impressive open-air museum dedicated to traditional crafts and customs in Bulgaria. What lures tourists to visit the complex is the enchanting song of the past sung there: it mixes the voice of bagpipes and the chirping of the birds with the metallic rhythm of sledge-hammers coming from the craft shops and the cow-bells in the lush green meadows. This is the original soundtrack to every tour around the Etar.The museum complex spreads out on a territory of 7 hectares and is home to more than 20 traditional handcrafts. If you want to, you can actually take a crash course in any of them. Lessons are available in all workshops. Alternatively, you can just go and buy something from the craftsman’s market. The objects sold there are made by the best-skilled craftsmen in the country. The 19th-century shoemaker’s workshop and the tannery house built in 1860 are two of Etar’s most notable attractions. The complex also exhibits the only collection of water-driven machinery in Bulgaria. The museum is located at the very outskirts of Gabrovo, the capital of humor, and just few kilometres away from the beautiful town of Tryavna, our next stop.


Tryavna is situated some 40 km south of Veliko Tarnovo and is the most important artistic centre in the region. In the old part of the town you will come across many typical 19th-century houses which carry all the significant traits of the historical period they were built in. Although their facades are well-preserved and nice to look at, the thing that really impresses is their interior decoration. It flaunts some fine wood carvings and wall paintings that were made by the best in business – the representatives of the Tryavna Artistic School. This was one of the most popular artistic groups during the National Revival Period which majored in wood carving and icon painting. The best example of their work is kept in Daskalov House. There tourists will have the pleasure to see the two most exquisite and elaborate wood-carved ceilings in the country.


This 600-year-old village lies just 8 km away from Tryavna and is one of the spots in Bulgaria that give real meaning to the expression rural life. The past and traditions have soaked into its buildings, museums, taverns and workshops, thus creating the most authentic atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. Almost every house in Bozhentsi is an architectural landmark where one will come across hundreds of precious objects that speak of the most notable local and national customs and reveal the former glory of Bulgaria’s small towns and villages.