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Tryavna revisit

Tryavna


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Tryavna is famous for its woodcarving and icon-painting traditions and also for its National Revival buildings. There is a difference between the buildings in Tryavna and the ones in Plovdiv, Arbanasi, parts of Veliko Tarnovo and elsewhere, however; the roofs are tiled with slate rather than terra cotta. Not slate tiles as we know it, either, but big, hefty, uneven slabs of it.

The first place we went to was the Church of Archangel Michael, deliciously cool inside and a feast for our eyes as well. As you might expect in a centre for woodcarving, the iconostasis and pulpit were wonderfully carved. The dark wood contrasted well with the colourful icons.

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The church is on the corner of the main square; a very distinctive clock tower stands on another side of it. I remembered this from last time. We asked if people can climb up it, but unfortunately it's closed off to visitors at the moment.

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Instead of that, we popped into a sweetshop next door - Tryavna has many of these, selling things such as Bulgarian delight, sheets of sesame snap and colourful curly lollies which look like rock.

After making some purchases (I got some sesame snap) we moved next door to the Old School Museum. We went under a stone archway and emerged into a small but wonderfully atmospheric courtyard. The school was built in 1839 and is similar to a house, with only one room actually a classroom. On the ground floor were craftsmen's workshops and on the first floor were the classroom, canteen and rooms for teachers, guardians and pupils from mountain villages. The school was the first secular one in Tryavna.

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The ground floor rooms weren't part of the museum and were closed, but upstairs I looked at an exhibition of colourful paintings and wooden sculptures of people done in the primitive style by the contemporary Bulgarian artists Nikola and Dimitar Kazakov, the old classroom, an exhibition of timepieces imported by 19th century Tryavna families (it included an 'reverse handed' clock - one where the numbers went anti-clockwise) and an exhibition of 19th century school textbooks and student reports.

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The latter exhibition didn't have any English text accompanying them, unfortunately, but it was still interesting to look at. One of these reports was actually from a school in Bucharest and was written in both Romanian and Latin - I liked comparing the two and seeing how similar the languages are.

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The classroom was interesting too because it was set up how it was in the 19th century. The front row was for infants and had little sand boxes for them to outline words and letters in; the second row had slates and was where the infants moved to after a year of sitting at the front. The third and fourth rows had inkpots; students only moved there once they were trusted to be able to write with pen and paper. An old-fashioned version of the Cyrillic alphabet was on the wall.

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After the school museum we walked on to the same café I'd had hot sand coffee at with F in January. It was too hot for coffee this time, so a cold drink was in order.

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From there we walked on to the 'Fountain of Love', something I'd seen back in January but hadn't known the background. It's very small, but has a beautiful carving of a woman; apparently whoever drinks from it will have a happy and long-lasting marriage. Both 'S' and I drank from it!

The fountain was opposite Daskalov House, the beautiful house museum with the carved suns in the roof that I had been to back in January. I had a sit down and admired the sculpture outside while the others went in.

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Another drink at a another café followed, before we left Tryavna and went on to Bozhentsi, a small village about five km away as the crow flies but actually about 20 km to drive due to the roundabout route you have to take through the hills.

Some general photos of Tryavna:

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Posted by 3Traveller 05:11 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bridges art museum traditions bulgaria icons clock_tower orthodox_church house_museum tryavna traditional_customs Comments (0)

Tryavna: Ice, hot sand coffee and amazing woodcarving

Tryavna


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I went on a lovely day trip today with 'F'. We went to a very historic town/village called Tryavna first, before moving on to Dryanovski Monastery, which is set in a dramatic gorge. Both are within 40km from Veliko Tarnovo.

We went by car, driving along winding roads with a mixture of mountains and fields on both sides. At one point, when we had a hill directly on the right hand side of the road, I noticed great hunks of ice like stalactites on the side of the rock. The water that usually comes out of the side of the rock had frozen. I'd noticed this before on a much smaller scale in Gurko Street in VT, actually - built on the side of a steep hill, water trickles from the wall of rock on one side, both naturally and through the occasional small metal pipe.

We had a lovely walk round Tryavna. There was more snow around here than in VT (where almost all of it had gone) so some of the roads were a bit slippery - neither of us fell over though.

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Tryavna is famous in Bulgaria for woodcarving and icon-painting and also for being the birthplace of the Bulgarian revolutionary Angel Kanchev, who on being captured by the police next to the Romanian border in 1872, shot himself rather than run the risk of betraying vital secrets under torture. It is also a very historic town, full of beautiful National Revival architecture.

We were both a bit peckish when we first arrived, so we found a café and had some coffee and something sweet. The café was a hot drinks and sweets place only - nothing savoury! I tried a 'hot sand coffee'; the waitress brought out an empty, painted ceramic espresso cup first. Then she brought out a mini version of the copper jug with a silver inside and a long wooden handle which I gave my sister Emma for Christmas. She poured my coffee from the jug into my espresso cup; it was a very dark and rich brown colour, richer than normal. It was very similar to the Greek coffee I had at Anastasia's in St Albans a few years ago; you aren't supposed to drink the last drop due to the thick layer of coffee grounds at the bottom. Apparently the copper jug is placed on hot sand; that's what heats the coffee. I imagine no kettles are involved! I don't think this is a traditional Bulgarian thing - I think they got this style of coffee from either Greece or Turkey.

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Opposite the café was Daskalov House, a National Revival house museum originally built for a silk and rose-oil merchant in 1808.

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A little museum of woodcarving on one wing included a reconstruction of a 19th-century woodworker's shop, some carved wooden statues of old Bulgarian Tsars and lots of intricately carved icon frames (with icons inside). In many of them, the frame was bigger than the icon!

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The rest of the house was also small, but interesting. Pride of place are two of the ceilings, which have fantastically carved suns. They were the result of a competition between a master woodcarver his apprentice when the house was first built. They both worked on their ceilings for six months, each room sealed off from the other so they never saw each other's work. When they were both unveiled, the merchant Daskalov said that the apprentice had won, but the Guild of Carvers, who had overseen the proceedings, said that the master had. The Guild were still so impressed with the apprentice, however, that they declared him a master. I've forgotten who did which ceiling, but although they were both impressive, one was definitely a level above the other, in my opinion. The sun in the middle of the ceiling was surrounded by very intricately carved daisies - no wonder it the whole thing took six months to carve!

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After leaving there we walked round Tryavna some more, taking it all in. There are about 150 listed buildings here so I took quite a few photos!

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Eventually we both felt like lunch, so we found a pizza restaurant and tucked in. I had my old favourite, tarator, as a starter and we shared a pizza and a side of stir-fried vegetables.

Then on to Dryanovski Monastery...

Posted by 3Traveller 16:24 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains snow bulgaria house_museum bulgarian_cuisine tryavna Comments (0)

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