But before a special natural surprise awaited us. Your name Devetashka, a magical place and disappeared again from the guides, which has captivated us.
Defining the route. A stop at the Dryanovo Monastery
Today is our sixth day in Bulgarian lands and we believe we are perfectly adapted. From the unique natural landscapes of the northwest we go down to Rila, Melnik and cross isolated landscapes of mountains, authentic villages and hardly any tourism. After a stop in Plovdiv we met yesterday with an area, the valley of the Thracian Kings, with a congregation of important historical legacies but also villages of charm until ending in Tryavna from where we left todaydel, one of those places to recommend without conditions. Special, magical and tale
We are aware that knowing where we wanted to arrive, choosing among all the attractions of this area was going to be complicated.
Finally, the monasteries of Dryanovo and Preobrazhensky were essential and Arbanasi and Veliko Tarnovo non-negotiable. The bet (and surprise of the day) was going to be Devetashka where we marked the GPSMore places to visit in the central mountains of Bulgaria:
- Monastery of Troyan and his frescoes by Zahari Zograf
- The old town of Lovech and its Varosha architectural-historical reserve
- The architectural and ethnographic complex “Etar” on the outskirts of Gabrovo
- The picturesque town of Bozhentsi
Although we headed to Devetashka it didn't take us long to stop along the way. He Dryanovo Monastery Just 20 km (30 min) from Tryavna is a classic on any route by car or tour of Bulgaria (Parking 1 BGN)
Built in the twelfth century during the reign of Tsar Kaloyan, and as we are seeing in the history of all these days, he suffered a thousand hardships beginning to be destroyed by the Ottomans that razed everything where they passed.
The current Monastery of "San Arcángel Miguel", from the end of the 16th century, is located 2 km from the first instead of on its foundations and has been restored and rebuilt several times after suffering fires and further devastation
After Rila and Bochkovo, what about this Monastery? It is part of the One hundred tourist attractions in Bulgaria and its integration with the mountains is very beautiful. Even about 300 meters away is the Bacho Kiro Cave that who has more time can visit. We approached to the door but we had another surprise afterwards prepared, with which we prefer to follow our route
Cave have we said? We go to an even more beautiful place and return to mark the GPS route after taking a couple of bottles of water (2 BGN) as the day threatens again with heat.
Devetashka Cave, cavernous deposits of the Paleolithic
This is a route by car through Bulgaria, yes! But the journey through history that we are hitting is really exciting. If yesterday the thing was going from Thracian, the Bulgarian Renaissance, Ottomans and even Romans have been present, today we return to the legacy of our oldest ancestors as we did in the Magura Cave the second day, although it took us a bit to find it (2 km from the Devetaki village). Of course, on the way we continue to meet charming roads surrounded by greenery to the point of seeming to go through tunnels ... up to level crossings practically already removed from Spain (by the way, the Tomtom we bring is working very well)
It was the year 1921 when a Bulgarian scientist discovered it although it was not fully excavated until the 1950s but with the intention of transforming it into a warehouse (6 BGN both).
A cave in a warehouse? It turns out that this cave, also known as Maarata or Oknata, Devetashka It is 1,500 meters long and has an entrance gate 55 meters wide and more than 30 meters high
We started walking through the concrete bases that still remain inside the cave where formerly large oil deposits had been installed.
At about 50 meters there is an immense room of about 2,400 square meters between 60 and 100 meters high that shelter more than 30,000 bats.
Although its true beauty is the seven huge holes in the ceiling through which the light penetrates, illuminating the central hall and part of the two branches that we are about 250 meters (closed the passage to the public today). It is a karst cave filled with sinks, caves, and underground drainage systems from which we can barely discover a partial view
From here the cave separates into two parts. It seems that on the left one runs a river forming lakes and waterfalls that, passing through the main hall, flows into the Osam River.
The one on the right, however, is dry, with several cameras that end in a round room known as the Altar.
If Devetashka is already an impressive natural spectacle, now we add the legacy of our most distant ancestors, what more can we ask for? It turns out that the cave has been inhabited almost continuously since the late Paleolithic !! about 70,000 years ago !! and in it some of the most important Neolithic remains of the world have been found.
Stalactites and stalagmites, domes and arches in the rock, rivers and lakes, waterfalls, waterfalls and a natural beauty without limits. What better place to live should our ancestors think? As an anecdote, the movie "The Mercenaries 2" was filmed here in 2011 with Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme (we will not be the ones to see it)
The Preobrazhensky Monastery and Minotel Rashev
Still amazed at the wonder we just witnessed, we set off for Veliko Tarvono where we will enjoy most of the day. However, and as we did early, we will make another stop at one of the last monasteries that we will see in Bulgaria (has it become clear to you that Bulgaria stands out for its wonderful monasteries?). 1 hour and a half of road in about 80 km and a stop of those to tell the "grandchildren" in a town where "Christ lost the shoe" and understanding each other with laughter in a small house to eat locals with a Bulgarian who did not understand or palote and posters in Cyrillic on all sides. Does anyone have doubts that with the language of monkeys you can eat anywhere in the world? (and above cheap, 5.80 BGN both)
He Preobrazhensky Monastery (of the Transfiguration) It is one of the most beautiful we have seen these days but it is in a high degree of restoration right now, just 7 km from Veliko Tarnovo, almost juggling with vertical cliffs on the Yantra River
They date it from the year 1360, during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, and the phases it suffered were similar to that of Dryanovo that we saw in the morning, with destruction, fire and even different initial location abandoned after the conquest of Tarnovo at the end of the 14th century by the ottomans
Even today you can see a great deterioration in many areas of what should have been in its day, although the main basilica is an attraction more than enough
The monastery is impressive and again the interior frescoes and exterior walls (1849-1851) leave anyone speechless, although as we said before it is currently under renovation and we can even observe the tasks of cleaning the black of candles or restoring paintings A great job
The idea was to follow Arbanasi (tomorrow morning?) But the truth is that today if we are quite tired of a car and although in 2 days we will be lying in the sun on the Black Sea beaches, today we will try to stay a little earlier in the town of Veliko Tarnovo, specifically in a hotel pimp, theThe hill
Veliko Tarvono, the most beautiful city in Bulgaria
The most beautiful city in Bulgaria or at least that's what several media outlets thought when they awarded him this award years ago and even was named capital of the Balkan cultural tourism. We are also strategically well placed to "kick it" so we will start with Tzarevetz, Asenova and end up in the old area where we sleep.
Veliko Tarnovo is also considered as the capital of the medieval czars of Bulgaria, between wooded hills and divided by the Yantra River, a true medieval city that today has lively nightlife and even modern area and that the Bucharest-Istanbul train line endows of tourist life at any time.
Interestingly, as we have entered the most tourist area of the country worse we have found the infrastructure and roads. The access to the Proe Monastery ... or as it is said, is a piece of asphalt between potholes.
A curiosity, the desire for tourism is such in Veliko Tarnovo, that all hotels have their booking score attached to the door. Have we lost a little north?
We take advantage before entering to also buy some ice cream for which we are blowing 5.80 BGN, which without being an exorbitant price if we think about it in EUR, begins to make us understand that we have gotten into the “tourist city” par excellence, where the prices of Country shine for your absence.
The Tzarevets or Tsarevets fortress It is one of the great symbols of the city and possibly of Bulgaria. It opens from 8 am to 7 pm and costs BGN 6 per person and is a medieval fortress with remains of more than 400 houses, 18 churches and monasteries, shops, towers,…
Its construction was on a hill that was already inhabited in the third millennium BC but that was with the Byzantine Empire (V-VII AD) when an imposing city settled on it. It was this, precisely, that already in Medieval times (S.XII) was fortified with walls up to 10 m high, 3.40 m wide and 1,100 m long with three doors (the northwest is called Puerta de Assen and the southeast Frenkjisarska gate, protected by the famous Baldwin Tower)
It is through one of them that we enter today (protected by towers, already converted into a museum and architectural reserve, and from here you can appreciate the privileged strategic position between walls and cliffs to the Yntra River, almost impassable.
Walking through its cobbled streets you reach the highest part, called Patriarchs Complex where the best views of the city are obtained and gives a general perspective of the fortress itself which, on the other hand, is seen to be a reconstruction of what it should have been (which took many years between 1930 and 1981) as it is in a impeccable state
From here, aPalatial complexit congregates with a wall, two defense towers and two doors, a series of buildings with the throne room, the palatial Church and the royal repose.
It seems that the excavations that exposed 470 residential buildings, an inn, aristocracy residences, 23 temples and 4 urban convents also brought the discovery of dresses with gold fabrics and other jewels from the time of the Second Bulgarian Reign
Curious to see are elements like the hanging rock, from where the traitors were emptied, someold monastery of the thirteenth century in worse condition or the some noble's homes important
If we go to the opposite extreme, flanking the Fortress Walls, we arrive at the Baldwin Tower that we have mentioned before that it is completely restored. Baldwin I of Constantinople was executed here in 1204, and there the name remained, although of course, the star visit is at the highest point of the citadel, the Patriarchate Church.
Although dated from the 13th century, it is completely rebuilt. Its interior? After seeing so many fresh these days we got a surprise. We are facing a different set and that has nothing to do with the line we have been observing, perhaps modern, perhaps too dark. We could not say.
We descend quietly towards the entrance after a good walk under the suffocating heat and returning to find beautiful panoramic views of a village on cliffs.
One tip… don't wear flip flops if you dare to enter the Fortress. It seems little, but it is a good ride.
From the top, it may be the best point of view to observe the bottom of the cliff until the old city goes up embedded between four hills where the Yantra River also flows meandering looking for its way. It is also down here where we meet the Asenova neighborhood, at the foot of the fortress, area of artisans and workers of that day
We must recognize that after several days on the road and enjoying villages of true charm or enclosures of great spirituality and although they say that the old area congregates the main places of interest (with churches that are a true wonder - that of the 40 martyrs, San Dimitri, San Pedro and Pablo-) we are living in Veliko Tarnovo a spirit very different from what we have been enjoying. An adulterated product of an authentic and wild Bulgaria, without exploiting mass tourism, which however here is proposed (although you do not find almost foreign tourists, almost all are Bulgarian and Russian).
Thus, we decided to enter the Old Town of Veliko Tarvono, already in the area of our accommodation.
The old town of Veliko Tarvono, Varosha
If we had to choose a point to start this would be the City Cathedral, Sveta Bogoritsa and the surroundings of Bulgarian renaissance houses in this area
The street that leads to the Varosha neighborhood is possibly a good dividing line between what is the modern part from Veliko Tarvono and the old town and Sveta Gora
On our left we are jumping from viewpoint to viewpoint that leave some of the best views on the other side of the "precipice, some waters (2 BGN) and a nice coffee (3.10 BGN)
IncludedAsenid Monument, the equestrian sculptures of four Czars of the Second Bulgarian Empire surrounding an obelisk in an imposing enclosure
Around Stefan Stambolov street you reach Samovodska Charshiya, a cobbled street of craft shops that Paula especially loved.
It is a quiet neighborhood in the area of Varosha (old case) and on which the tourist axis of the city revolves next to the fortress
Art galleries, charming little shops (gifts 18 BGN) and a walk without direction leave the last hours of the day in the city where we even find some "little gift" (60 BGN) that will complete our Bethlehem Portal starting precisely in this Palestinian city
A little higher, already around The hill, is the house Sarafkina Kashta, the house of a rich Turkish merchant from the Bulgarian Renaissance, the Archaeological Museum and the National Renaissance Museum, while the sun begins to leave beautiful colors on the fortress
Although the great attraction is on the 3rd floor of our accommodation (which is why we have chosen it). A Panoramic restaurant from which to see the illuminated fortress While you have dinner of some of the typical dishes and have a good homemade beer (20 BGN)
The day does not go far. maybe Veliko Tarnovo has not reached our expectations created or possibly we come from a route that has left us really authentic and little crowded places and made us lose our perspective. We are sure that it is an essential passage through Bulgaria but ... we are left with the other great discovery that has managed to stop time as few things get on our trips! More tomorrow
Isaac and Paula from Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 57.70 BGN (approx. 29.59 EUR) and GIFTS: 78 BGN (approx. 40 EUR)