Veliko Tarnovo: Street Art You’ll Love and Some Unexpected Findings

Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) was the first stop in our Balkan road trip. We quickly found a convenient place to stay, based on the Lonely Planet recommendations, took a shower and went for a long walk.

Our small group discovered Veliko Tarnovo’s street art, admired its bright terraced houses, got caught by the rain at Assen’s monument and visited Tsaravets Fortress. We also went to Marno Pole Park and found ourselves in the middle of a colourful festival.

If you’re short on time, you can just skip to the Quick Guide at the end of the article.
If not, join me in exploring Veliko Tarnovo!

Veliko Tarnovo Street Art

As we were wandering on old, narrow, terraced houses, some well-kept and renovated, others deserted and maybe close to falling apart, we discovered by interesting and beautiful wall art.

A post shared by Mirela (@mirela_iepurela) on

Another favourite of mine, which we discovered by pure luck, is this painted staircase:

A post shared by Mirela (@mirela_iepurela) on

A Secret Garden After a wedding ceremony

While we were walking, we went down some other stairs and we ended up in a hidden garden of what I believe was a deserted church. However, it looked as if someone had held a wedding ceremony there not too long ago. The decorations on the ceiling were still there, and so were some light installations, although several of the bulbs were missing:

A post shared by Mirela (@mirela_iepurela) on

While you’re visiting Veliko Tarnovo, I strongly advise you to get lost on the narrow streets, while picking random stairways to go up and down on. I promise you’ll always come across a nice surprise on the way!


Veliko Tarnovo’s Fortress: Tsaravets

In the afternoon, though it was still quite hot outside, we went and visited Tsaravets, the fortress of Veliko Tarnovo.

Tsaravets fortress Veliko Tarnovo Bulgaria

Tsaravets, the Veliko Tarnovo fortress

The fortress dates back to the second millennium BC and has faced many attacks, especially from the Ottoman Empire. The latter has finally conquered it and burned it down in 1393. The story of the conquering and other important moments from the history of Tsaravets have been turned into an audiovisual spectacle, called The Sound and Light Show. The show has been put on stage since 1985, and it consists of lasers, lights, music and church bells.

You can take a peek at The Sound and Light Show here.

As you climb up, at the very top you will come across a church, the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God. Step inside and you will get to gaze at some very interesting, modern frescoes.

Frescoes of the Veliko Tarnovo Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God

Frescoes of the Veliko Tarnovo Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God


The Assen Dynasty Monument

The monument is dedicated to four kings from the Assen Dynasty (Assen, Peter, Kaloyan and Ivan Assen II). You can see their representation the large sword in the image below. This sword represents the power and the rise of Bulgaria in the medieval times.

The Assen Dynasty Monument was built in 1985 when Bulgaria was celebrating 800 years since the rebellion of brothers Assen and Peter.

Veliko Tarnovo Assen Dynasty Monument

Images © Ana Maria Gavrilă


The Veliko Tarnovo International Folklore Festival

In the evening, while we were walking through Marno Pole Park, we saw two guys heading to a stage. I followed them and asked if they knew what was happening there.

They were from a band from New Orleans called Komenka Ethnic Ensemble and they were taking part in a folk festival. They weren’t sure if we needed tickets or not, but since we had already entered through the backstage, the two of them told us to just go ahead and take a seat.

So we stayed a bit. Their band opened and they were followed by numbers from Mexico, Taiwan, Argentina, then it was their turn again… And soon after that, we left, but we really enjoyed it!

Veliko Tarnovo International Folklore Festival

Images © Ana Maria Gavrilă

As we found out, the International Folklore Festival in Veliko Tarnovo is apparently a pretty big deal. It started in 1998 and, from its very beginning, it was one of the 270 festivals recognized by CIOFF*. It brings together groups from all the corners of the world, in a wonderful musical mosaic, and is a pleasant way to relax and cool down at the end of a hot summer day.

International Council of Organizers of Festivals for Folklore and Traditional Arts
Official Partner of UNESCO

Quick Guide for Veliko Tarnovo





Mehana Slavyanska Dusha
Hotel and restaurant in Veliko Tarnovo, 8 minutes away from the Yantra River. Perfect if you’re on a budget. The rooms are clean, the food is tasty, and the staff is very friendly, even though they didn’t really speak English. Kid-friendly.

Address: 21 Nikola Zlatarski, Veliko Tarnovo 5000
Tel. 596-262-5182 | Book room now



What to visit in Veliko Tarnovo

Tsaravets Fortress
Open daily from 08.00 to 19.00 (April – October) or from 09.00 to 17.00 ( November-March). Tickets cost 6 leva for adults, 2 leva for students. The scenic elevator ride costs 2 leva.
Address: Tsar Asen Square, Veliko Tarnovo 5000
Tel. 596-263-8841

The Asen Dynasty Monument
Sveta Gora, Veliko Tarnovo 5003

Marno Pole Park
Address: Marno Pole, Veliko Tarnovo 5000



Veliko Tarnovo Events

The Light and Sound Show
Upcoming dates and tickets are available here.
Tsar Asen Square, Veliko Tarnovo 5000

International Folklore Festival
Upcoming dates: 21 – 28 July 2018, 20 – 27 July 2019. Entrance is free of charge.
Address: Marno Pole, Veliko Tarnovo 5000



other useful articles

Got some other suggestions? Let’s get in touch!

Pin for later

12 thoughts on “Veliko Tarnovo: Street Art You’ll Love and Some Unexpected Findings

  1. Lena says:

    I had never even heard about Veliko Tarnovo before reading your post. But now I am wondering why it is not more famous. It seems like a lovely place where you can learn a lot about the Balkan history and culture (old and new).

  2. Anthony (One of FourFriendsOneWorld) says:

    We love chasing street art. It reveals so much about a city’s culture and history. this post is a really useful resource for travelers visiting Veliko Tarnovo.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!

  3. Jenn and Ed Coleman says:

    I have heard some very good things about Bulgaria. Veliko Tarnovo looks like it has a lot of surprise in store for any traveller. It sounds like you got very lucky to check out the folk festival.

  4. Marya says:

    I never get bored of street art, and the cat painting you took is amazing, like it’s actually cute and creepy at the same time. Hahaha. 😀

    I’ve never heard of Veliko Tarnovo before, but now I’m intrigued to pay a visit if I ever get a chance to visit Bulgaria. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Jenia says:

    I’d love to go to Bulgaria some day! A friend is there right now and loving it 🙂
    The cat in the first photo may be my favorite, but the frescos look very cool, too. So different from what you normally see!
    What does the name of the city mean, do you know? I get the “great” part, but great what?

  6. Punita Malhotra says:

    Isn’t it lovely to discover surprises along the streets as you go along exploring a town? Those examples of street art are great. I love the small red heart on the wall. And how stunning is that cathedral ceiling !

  7. Lauren Pears says:

    I love street art! There’s some great street art here in East London and it always catches my eye. Bulgaria looks so beautiful though, I would love to visit someday soon.

  8. Tif says:

    Never heard of Veliko! Had to look it up!! I really enjoy learning about communities street are! So much history behind it!

  9. Lara Dunning says:

    The cat painting is so cute! I’m unfamiliar with this part of the world so I really appreciate this post and seeing all the photos and reading what you discovered. I’d love to see the fortress!

  10. Rohini says:

    never heard of Veliko Tarnovo before. But looks like a very charming place… Loved the pictures .. captured the feel very welll

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight + 13 =