A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about art

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo

Rusenski Lom National Park


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

From Cherven we moved on to a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo! They are within a gorge inside the Rusenski Lom National Park, only a few miles from Cherven. Only the main church was open. It was set very high within a cliff - from the ground, we could see only a balcony. The path/ steps up to it was round the back of the outcrop.

IMG_6370.JPGIMG_6368.JPGIMG_6369.JPG

The interior of the church was very small, but the walls were covered in medieval frescoes. One outer wall of the church had been replaced with wood - apparently the rock on that side has collapsed in either the 6th or the 16th century. It felt so strange being inside a place that had been literally carved out of solid rock!

IMG_6375.JPGIMG_6374.JPGIMG_6384.JPGIMG_6377.JPGIMG_6385.JPGIMG_6378.JPG

Once we emerged from there, we walked on to another lookout point. On the way there we stopped to investigate some other caves you had to climb up into.

IMG_6386.JPGIMG_6395.JPGIMG_6401.JPGIMG_6403.JPGIMG_6399.JPG

Once we arrived at the lookout point - on the other end of the outcrop - we stopped to take in the fabulous view of hills, forest, valley and river.

IMG_6422.JPGIMG_6423.JPGIMG_6410.JPGIMG_6416.JPGIMG_6432.JPGIMG_6419.JPGIMG_6430.JPG

The sun still beat down. We heard a lot of goose- or duck-like sounds coming from the valley floor far below us - 'F' said that it was actually frogs making these noises! Apparently they are deceptively small considering the amount of noise they make.

There are other churches within the cliffs further along the valley, but the man in the main church had told us that they weren't open. We considered walking along the valley to the first one just to check, but then 'F' said that there was a rock monastery in Basarbovo, a village to the north, which would almost certainly be open. Instead of walking to the original one and risking that being closed and then it being past closing time for the other, we descended into the valley and back round to the car park to continue on to Basarbovo.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:14 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged art sisters bulgaria explorations orthodox_church unesco_world_heritage_site cave_system Comments (0)

Beautiful Arbanasi

Arbanasi and Veliko Tarnovo


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

I went on a lovely trip to Arbanasi today, taking a taxi there and then walking back downhill through a partly wooded gorge to the River Yantra and Veliko Tarnovo. Arbanasi is 3km away from the centre of VT, on a hilltop visible from my bedroom and kitchen windows.

I revisited the Church of the Nativity first. It looked just as wonderful as the first time I saw it!

85dc0550-1d7c-11e9-a5be-c757f8a9d56c.JPG8614c890-1d7c-11e9-ae3c-d511534aa396.JPGIMG_6035.JPG856379f0-1d7c-11e9-ae3c-d511534aa396.JPGIMG_6028.JPG84299a60-1d7c-11e9-a5be-c757f8a9d56c.JPGIMG_6029.JPG84ea5250-1d7c-11e9-ae3c-d511534aa396.JPGIMG_6032.JPGIMG_6026.JPG

After that I thought about going to the most famous house museum in Arbanasi, but then I remembered that I'll be coming back here at least three times before I leave Bulgaria, so I might as well save the house museum to experience for the first time with a visitor!

Instead of that I decided to get some lunch on a terrace which had the most amazing views over Veliko Tarnovo, Tsarevets Hill and the other hills and enscarpments stretching into the distance. Right on the horizon I could see the snowcapped peaks of the Central Balkans.

IMG_6072.JPGIMG_6077.JPG

Tarator and margherita pizza were followed by a visit to the monastery of St Nicholas.

IMG_6067.JPGIMG_6080.JPG

This was small; there was a church in the middle, with what seemed to be accommodation for nuns and priests in the rest of the grounds. When I walked into the courtyard next to the church, I saw two black-garbed nuns standing next to a table piled with flowering willow branches. It's the day before Bulgarian Orthodox Palm Sunday, so I assumed that they were doing something to them in preparation for the next day. On Palm Sunday people here take willow twigs or branches to church to be blessed; they then tie the willow to the main entrance to their houses.

IMG_6088.JPGIMG_6090.JPGIMG_6095.JPGIMG_6093.JPGIMG_6092.JPG

The interior of the church wasn't quite as beautiful as some (it didn't have any frescoes, for example), but it did have lots of framed icons leaned up against the walls. I bought and lit a candle for Dad from the stall inside.

There are lots of other things to see in Arbanasi, but I decided to leave those for today because I knew I'd be coming back. No point looking at everything in one visit! I walked back through a gorge. I had a stream on my left hand side and on my right was the main road, but above me so I couldn't actually see it for most of the time. Not all that many cars went along the road anyway, so there wasn't much traffic noise. I could mainly just hear birdsong and the sound of the stream. At one point I saw two old ladies next to a willow tree by the stream, cutting off twigs - for use the next day, I assumed.

IMG_6112.JPGIMG_6116.JPGIMG_6117.JPG

Not long after that I got a good view of the Patriarchate Tower of Tsarevets Fortress in the distance (my photo didn't turn out that well though).

IMG_6119.JPG

Eventually I saw tiled rooftops through the trees and realised I was about to come out into the Asenov quarter of Veliko Tarnovo, down by the River Yantra and round the back and to one side of Tsarevets Hill. I hadn't been this far round before. I walked out of the wood onto a cobbled street flanked by white- and pink-blossomed trees...

IMG_6122.JPGIMG_6125.JPG

...then along the riverside until I reached the wooden bridge. I could see little fish in the river.

IMG_6136.JPGIMG_6133.JPGIMG_6139.JPGIMG_6137.JPGIMG_6142.JPG

All in all, it was a lovely outing. I couldn't believe I'd left it so long since my last visit! I should have made a trip out there while it was snowing in the winter.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:37 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains bridges art monastery dad bulgaria icons veliko_tarnovo church_of_the_nativity fortifications orthodox_church tsarevets_fortress bulgarian_cuisine river_yantra arbanasi traditional_customs palm_sunday Comments (0)

Glorious spring day

Veliko Tarnovo


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Today I went on a really nice walk down to the River Yantra and the museum church of St Peter & St Paul. It was my day off and was such a lovely spring day, I simply had to get out and about. As I stepped out of my flat I noticed that since only last Sunday the amount of blossom on the almond tree had noticeably increased. The scent of flowers and other plants filled the air as I walked down the road towards the Tsarevets plaza.

IMG_5959.JPG

On the plaza I noticed some Easter decorations; a giant basket filled with giant colourful eggs had been placed at the edge. After a quick photo I moved on down the road winding down the hill to the River Yantra. I saw lots more almond trees in blossom, some with martenitsas tied onto branches.

IMG_5963.JPGIMG_5964.JPGa4dd5dd0-1d79-11e9-a5be-c757f8a9d56c.JPGa4b367a0-1d79-11e9-83c8-f73d5647848d.JPG

When I reached the river I carried on past the Church of the Forty Martyrs, the main bridge and the wooden bridge to the Church of St Peter & St Paul. I came here back in December but the church was closed then. To my delight, I saw that today it was open.

IMG_5979.JPGIMG_5981.JPGIMG_5985.JPGIMG_5969.JPG

This church was originally built in the 13th century and was extended between the 16th and 18th centuries (and the roof tiles like quite recent too). It's a museum church now, not used for services. It had some very colourful remains of 14th, 16th and 17th century frescoes on its inner walls.

IMG_5970.JPGIMG_5971.JPG

On my wander around the small grounds, I noticed several bright red beetles with black spots - they weren't ladybirds though!

Posted by 3Traveller 05:46 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bridges art museum bulgaria veliko_tarnovo orthodox_church river_yantra easter_celebrations Comments (0)

Veliko Tarnovo Day celebrations

Veliko Tarnovo


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Veliko Tarnovo Day - the birthday of the city, when religious figures, a military band and schoolchildren parade through the town with pennants, icons, flags, black-and-white photos of the city's benefactors, a long green garland, music and colourful balloons.

IMG_5857.JPGIMG_5859.JPGIMG_5863.JPGIMG_5869.JPGIMG_5871.JPGIMG_5856.JPGIMG_5860.JPGIMG_5861.JPGIMG_5862.JPGIMG_5864.JPGIMG_5868.JPG

The mayor gives a speech and presents newly appointed honorary citizens. There's a carnival atmosphere in the air, with free concerts in front of the Municipal Hall and street stalls nearby.

IMG_5874.JPGIMG_5882.JPGIMG_5875.JPG

After dark a party truck sweeps down the main street and along to the plaza in front of Tsarevets Fortress with a crowd in tow, partying to the music blasting from the loudspeakers.

IMG_5892.JPGIMG_5897.JPGIMG_5902.JPGIMG_5909.JPG

Later that night, fireworks light up the sky...

b86b3c20-1d77-11e9-9bb2-55744de16095.JPGIMG_5938.JPGIMG_5929.JPGIMG_5944.JPGIMG_5935.JPG

...and an amazing laser and 3D-imaging show is displayed on the hill of the Assen Monument.

IMG_5950.JPGIMG_5954.JPGIMG_5955.JPG

I enjoyed all of the above very much. The weather was perfect and everything was impressive. For the laser and 3D-imaging show, Gurko Street was so packed with people I didn't even attempt to get near the front; I went back up to the main street instead, where I viewed the show from one of the plazas that looks out over the river and the Assen Monument.

The almond trees are blossoming - very picturesque.

IMG_5889.JPG

On the main street at the moment there are some wonderful photos of Veliko Tarnovo displayed. I took these photos of them as I returned home after the parade.

IMG_5885.JPGIMG_5886.JPGIMG_5887.JPG

Last night I went to a short, free concert by the Veliko Tarnovo Brass Band, part of the Veliko Tarnovo Day weekend celebrations. It was OK, but there was no heating on in the building for some reason, so we all got distracted by the cold! The band had a guest jazz soloist called Theodosii Spassov, who is apparently very well known in Bulgaria. I simply could not work out what instrument he was playing - it looked very like a clarinet from the distance, but it sounded like a cross between a clarinet, flute and recorder. It sounded quite breathy. I only found out later that what he was playing was actually a kaval - a type of end-blown flute traditional to the Balkans and Anatolia. Sometimes he combined playing that with a type of singing, humming and other strange vocal noises. The pieces they played were a little bit samey to be honest, but I'm still glad I went, because it was an interesting experience.

IMG_5853.JPGIMG_5855.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 04:47 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged art parties bulgaria procession veliko_tarnovo fortifications tsarevets_fortress gurko_street assen_monument Comments (0)

Into the Rhodopes: Bachkovo Monastery & Asenovgrad Fortress

Bachkovo Monastery and Asenovgrad Fortress


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

It turned out that I was the only guest who wanted to go to the monastery and fortress on Monday, so I had to pay a bit more than if there'd been more people, but it was worth it!

The journey took about 40 minutes. On the way to Bachkovo Monastery we passed through the town of Asenovgrad. Luben, the driver, told me that Asenovgrad is known for making wedding dresses and red wine; sure enough, we passed lots of shop windows filled with wedding dresses. Then we went further into the Rhodope mountains, with dramatic scenery at every turn.

Bachkovo Monastery was absolutely beautiful, just as I expected. Although I didn't get all that much time to look round, it was still brilliant. Apparently it's one of the largest and oldest Orthodox monasteries in Europe. The main church gleams white in the sun;

IMG_5661.JPGIMG_5658.JPGIMG_5655.JPGIMG_5659.JPGIMG_5605.JPGIMG_5609.JPGIMG_5648.JPGIMG_5633.JPGIMG_5610.JPG

I loved the frescoes on the ceiling and pillars of the long archway just in front of the main entrance. The interior was intensely atmospheric, too.

IMG_5638.JPGIMG_5640.JPGIMG_5616.JPG

It was lovely to wander round the grounds in the sun, too. There was a sheep in a pen for some reason and cockerels and hens wandered round the edge of the main courtyard.

IMG_5618.JPGIMG_5621.JPGIMG_5627.JPGIMG_5641.JPG

I seemed to be one of very few international tourists there; mostly it seemed to be Bulgarians popping into the church to pray and then leave. There was a smaller church as well, but unfortunately it wasn't open.

IMG_5645.JPG

The old refectory was closed too, but running round its outside wall was a famous and very well-preserved mural of the history of the monastery, painted in 1846, it shows in colourful detail a panorama of the monastery grounds.

IMG_5619.JPG

I would have loved more time here but I knew we had to move on to Asenovgrad Fortress.

Asenovgrad Fortress perches dramatically in the mountains about 2km from the town. The only wholly preserved building in the fortress complex is a tiny church which nevertheless has two floors.

IMG_5685.JPGIMG_5664.JPG

It has fragments of murals on the walls. It looked like a working church, not just a museum one; there were chairs in rows, a wooden stand with bibles and a colourful cloth on it, and next to a window some coins lay scattered in front of an icon.

IMG_5677.JPGIMG_5666.JPGIMG_5680.JPGIMG_5668.JPGIMG_5670.JPG

Rising above the church is a hill with fortress foundations clearly on show. A Bulgarian flag flew from the top. It was still very sunny and needless to say, the views I got from the top were amazing.

IMG_5715.JPGIMG_5689.JPGIMG_5700.JPGIMG_5706.JPGIMG_5699.JPGIMG_5692.JPGIMG_5708.JPGIMG_5712.JPG

Luben pointed out to me two tiny little churches on the mountainsides opposite and told me there are many more in the local area.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:36 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains art birds monastery bulgaria explorations fortifications orthodox_church bachkovo_monastery asenovgrad_fortress Comments (0)

(Entries 31 - 35 of 62) Previous « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 9 10 11 12 .. » Next