Veliko Tarnovo text in pink over image of Veliko Tarnovo and Tsaravets Fortress

Veliko Tarnovo: Street art you’ll love and some unexpected findings

Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) was the first stop on 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 & hidden gems

  1. Veliko Tarnovo street art
  2. A secret garden in Veliko Tarnovo
  3. Veliko Tarnovo’s fortress: Tsaravets
  4. The Assen Dynasty Monument
  5. Veliko Tarnovo’s International Folk Festival
  6. Affordable tours in Veliko Tarnovo
  7. Quick travel guide for Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo street art

As we were wandering on old, narrow streets with terraced houses, some well-kept and renovated, others deserted and maybe close to falling apart, we discovered by interesting and beautiful wall art. A favorite of mine, which we discovered by pure luck, is the painted staircase.

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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:

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!

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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

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

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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 around the large sword in the image below. This sword represents the power and the rise of Bulgaria in 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

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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

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Discover Veliko Tarnovo street art and much more!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links above, you won’t pay a cent more, but The Travel Bunny will get a small commission, which helps keep the lights on. Thank you!

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Quick travel guide for Veliko Tarnovo

Where to stay in Veliko Tarnovo

What to visit in Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo Recurring Events

Other Useful Articles

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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. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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 !

  6. 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.

  7. Tif says:

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

  8. 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!

  9. Rohini says:

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

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