Castle spotlight, Tsarevets Fortress, Bulgaria

Tsaravets Fortress
From the late 12th century until the end of the 14th century the Second Bulgarian Kingdom  was the largest and the most powerful state in Southeastern Europe. Tsarevets Fortress is on a hill bearing the same name in Veliko Tarnovo. The castle was the primary fortress of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces. The Tsarevets Hill was the main fortress of the medieval Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo. The hill itself was inhabited as early as the 2nd millennium B.C. The ancient settlement existed even during the Iron Age, but was abandoned in the first centuries of the Roman rule. In the 4th century it was populated again, and at the end of the 5th century it had already became a strongly fortified early Byzantine town. The medieval fortress had been raised during the 12th century on top of the foundations of the early Byzantine one.

The whole stronghold is girdled by thick walls up to 10 feet thick and was served by three gates. The main gate was at the hill's westernmost part, on a narrow rock massif, and featured a draw-bridge. The second gate is 60 feet away from the first one and the third one, which existed until 1889, is 100 feet further. The royal palace is located on the hills central and plain part, which was a closed complex encircled by a fortified wall, 2 towers and 2 entrances, the main at north and the other at south. It featured a throne room, a palace church and a royal residential part and encompassed 4872 square meters.

Tsaravets, BulgariaAbove all these the complex of the Patriarch's Palace was raising its walls high towards the sky. It was restored in 1981 in honor of 1300 years from the creation Bulgaria and it was painted in 1985 in honor of 800 years from the liberation of Vizantia. The interior of the Patriarch's Church has been decorated with modern wall painting, representing miscellaneous moments of the history and culture of Medieval Bulgaria.

In those years, well back in time, the slopes of the hill were studded with residential districts and craftsman's quarters, numerous churches and monasteries. Archaeologists on the hill of Tsarevets have found more than 400 residential buildings and 18 medieval churches. Restoration of the building began in 1930, when the first of the three gates of the main entrance to the fortress were reconstructed. The Baldwin Tower was among the first parts to be rebuilt, while the citadel on the top of the complex was reconstructed in 1981 and decorated four years later. Today, a popular spectacle is the the Sound and Light (Zvuk i Svetlina) audiovisual show conducted in the evenings, using laser lights, floodlights, music and church bells

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