Veliko Tarnovo is situated about 230 kilometers east from Sofia and it takes about 3 hours to reach it by car. The city has about 100.000 inhabitants with about 100.000 more living in the suburbs.
As the city was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the city is also known as the "City of Tsars" or city of supreme rulers. The 200 years of advancements was brought to a halt after a 3 month long city siege by the Ottoman Empire, after which a big part of the city was destroyed, especially the churches and monasteries.
Durring the long 450 years Ottoman rule, there where several initiatives in Tarnovo to overthrow the Turks, 2 more notable, the first in 1598 and the second in 1686, which where both crushed in bloodshed and repression. Starting from the year 1875, the new idea for freedom led to uprisings, war and finally the freedom of Tarnovo and the entire Bulgaria. In 1965, the city Tarnovo was renamed to Veliko Tarnovo ("Big Tarnovo") to emphasize the significance the city had on the history of Bulgaria.
Among the most important sights to visit in Veliko Tarnovo are the remains of the fortress Carevec (Tsarevets Fortress), the fortress Trapezišta, the churches of Saint Demetrius, Saint Forty Martyrs and Saint Peter and Paul, Boris Denev Art Gallery and the monument of the Assens. There are also several interesting museums found in the city.
Veliko Tarnovo played an important part during the long history of Bulgaria so it's a must visit if you would like to learn more about the turbulent Bulgarian history. Most tours taking you to Veliko Tarnovo stop to visit the village Arbanasi which is situated only 10 km from Veliko Tarnovo. It's a very picturesque village having lots of architecture and churches from the period of the Bulgarian National Revival.