Veliko Turnovo

Veliko Tŭrnovo

Veliko Tŭrnovo (vĕlēˈkō tûrˈnōvō), formerly Trnovo or Tirnovo, city (1993 pop. 69,059), N central Bulgaria, on the Yantra River. It is a commercial center and produces foodstuffs, textiles, and leather. Trnovo is the seat of an Eastern Orthodox metropolitan. The site was probably a Roman fortress. The second Bulgarian kingdom came into existence at Trnovo when Ivan I was proclaimed czar in 1186. It was the capital of Bulgaria under Ivan II, who built (1230) the Church of the Forty Martyrs. The city fell to the Turks in 1393. A Bulgarian constitution was drafted in 1879 at Trnovo, where the full independence of Bulgaria was proclaimed in 1908. In 1965 the city was renamed Veliko (“Greater”) Tŭrnovo. A university is located there.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Veliko Turnovo


(until 1965, Turnovo), a city in Bulgaria, picturesquely situated like an amphitheater on the slopes of the Turnovo upland and along the steep banks of the winding Iantra River, which cuts through the upland. Administrative center of Veliko Turnovo District. Population, 42,300 (1968). The city is a transportation junction, and its industry includes textiles, radio engineering, motor building, woodworking, brewing, and tanning. It has a teachers’ college, a theater, museums, and historical and architectural monuments; it is also a tourist center.

The exact date of the founding of Veliko Turnovo is unknown. Archaeological monuments of the late Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Aeneolithic periods, as well as traces of a Byzantine fortress from the fifth and sixth centuries and of Slavic settlements, have been found in the city and the area around it. During the period of Byzantine rule, in the 11th and 12th centuries, Veliko Turnovo was already a town of considerable size. It was at first called Turnovgrad, and later Turnovo. It is first mentioned about 1185 as the center of a Bulgarian uprising against Byzantine rule. From 1187 to 1393 it was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and the residence of the Bulgarian archbishop; beginning in 1235, it was the residence of the patriarch. It was a wealthy commercial and cultural center. In the 13th and 14th centuries a number of literary schools grew up in Veliko Turnovo and the surrounding area. On July 17, 1393, it was captured and laid waste by the Turks. Beginning in the 16th century it developed as a handicrafts center. In 1598 and 1686, under the name of Turnovo, it was the center of anti-Turkish uprisings. Subsequently it also played an important part in the struggle for national liberation. In 1767 the Turnovo Patriarchate was abolished. In the 19th century a considerable textile industry developed in Veliko Turnovo.

In 1869, V. Levski founded a revolutionary committee in Veliko Turnovo. During the preparation for the April Uprising of 1876, Veliko Turnovo was the center of the first revolutionary district. On June 25 (July 7), 1877, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, Veliko Turnovo was liberated by the Russian troops. From February to April 1879 the Constituent Assembly, which adopted the Turnovo Constitution of 1879, held its meetings in Veliko Turnovo. During the period 1890-94, the city became the center of the socialist movement in Bulgaria. The first conference of Bulgarian socialists was held in Veliko Turnovo in 1891, as were the congresses of the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party in 1893 and 1902. On Sept. 22 (Oct. 2), 1908, the independence of Bulgaria was proclaimed in Veliko Turnovo. The town’s inhabitants actively participated in the antifascist struggle of the Bulgarian people.

On Tsarevets hill are the ruins of a stone palace of terraced construction from the 12th to 14th centuries and ceremonial halls with mosaics and murals as well as the ruins of a stronghold with turrets, and a cross-domed church. Excavations on Trapezitsa hill have revealed the remains of stone fortification works and 17 churches of the 12th to 14th centuries, with traces of mural paintings and mosaics with ceramic details. Other monuments are the churches of Demetrius (1185, later rebuilt), the Forty Martyrs (1230), and Peter and Paul (14th century), all with murals; as well as the buildings of N. Fichev—the inn of Hadzhi Nikola (1858-62), the Church of Constantine and Helena, (1872-74), and Konak (now the building of the City People’s Council, 1872). The city has many dwellings of the Bulgarian Renaissance period. The old quarter of Veliko Turnovo has been a museum and preserve since 1955.


Angelov, N. “Srednovekovniiat grad Turnovo spored izvorite ot XII-XIV v. i dosegashnite arkheologicheski razkopki.” lzvestiia na Okruzhniia muzei—V. Turnovo,book 2, 1964.
Miiatev, K. “Tsarevgrad i Turnov.” Arkheologiia,1964, book 3.
Nikolova, Ia., T. Draganova, and Kh. Nurkov. Veliko Turnovo.Sofia, 1965.
Bogdanov, I. Veliko-Tyrnovo.Sofia, 1967.

G. G. LITAVRIN (historical information)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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