Arbanasi sits on the high plateau overlooking the River Yantra. A few kilometers from the old medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo. There are beautiful panoramic views over towards the Balkan Mountains. Tsaravets fortress and the city of Veliko Tarnovo can be seen below this wealthy and historic village.
The beautiful village of Arbanasi is very popular as a tourist destination. With its unique style of elaborate buildings it offers many types of accommodation for those that wish an alternative to the nearby city of Veliko Tarnovo.
Brief History of Arbanasi
By taking a leisurely stroll around Arbanasi you can easily tell this was an affluent village. In fact it still is the ‘posh end’ of Veliko Tarnovo. Many rich merchants and craftsmen lived in Arbanasi.
The village was inhabited by Bulgarian noblemen or Boyars in the 13th century after Ivan II conquered the Arbanashka (the land of Albanians) in 1230.
Written documents however, say it was founded by Albanian Christians in the 15th century who arrived from the South- western parts of the Balkan peninsula.
It was also ruled by the Ottoman nobles and by the middle of the 1600 ‘s became the property of Roustem Pashid, brother in law and Grand Vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Silkworms were also bred in Arbanasi and the silk was exported to Istanbul. The wine that was grown in the area went to Italy.
International trade flourished particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries. The population of Arbanasi were granted many privileges including reduced taxes, this in turn brought more settlers and prosperity to the village.
In the last decade of the 18th century Arbanasi was raided and burnt down. Possibly by Turkish Brigands who opposed the Ottoman Sultan. To compound problems, an outbreak of Cholera and the plague made the rich merchants flee the settlement. After 1810, although new artisans were arriving in Arbanasi, its heyday was over and in 1839 a new decree by the Ottomans took away its former privileges.
What to see and do in Arbanasi
Walking in Arbanasi
Take a walk around the peaceful village streets of Arbanasi. There are many little roads to explore between the large houses which are built like small stone fortresses with their large heavy gates and little sentry boxes.
You can easily pass a couple of hours and if you include taking in some of the historic churches and lunch in one of the many restaurants, then a whole day can be enjoyed here.
For the more energetic. Here are a some walks in the Arbanasi area you can check out.
This 400-year old house was once owned by a wealthy merchant named Atanas Konstantsaliata. The house has been preserved and opened as an ethnographic museum. It is an interesting place to visit and is one of the main attractions in Arbanasi
The entrance to the house has large studs in the wooden door to prevent would be attackers or robbers pushing their swords through. To gain access now, you can pay a few leva and just walk in!
There are only a few rooms to see in this two story home but it is interesting to see how the ‘posh lived back in the Ottoman days. It even has an indoor toilet!
The house presents the lifestyle of people from Arbanassi in 19th century.
Where to Stay and Restaurants in Arbanasi
Being a popular area for visitors, Arbanasi has many restaurants to choose from. They all serve Bulgarian traditional and european cuisine.
Likewise there are a number of accommodations to suit every budget from hotels & bed and breakfast to guest houses and house rentals. Arbanasi is not a large village and so all establishments are easy to reach.
Book Early for Best Deals
Book an Awesome Holiday Home In Arbanasi
The holiday home has 2 bedrooms with air conditioning. A fully equipped kitchen with an oven. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels is provided.
An outdoor swimming pool and barbecue facilities
Arbanasi Deluxe Villa
This property is rated for the best value in Arbanasi! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.
Arbanasi is only a few minutes by car taxi or bus into the city of Veliko Tarnovo if you prefer a livelier nightlife. For many tourists and weekend visitors Arbanasi offers a quieter alternative.
Churches and Monasteries of Arbanasi
The church played a very significant role in the history of Arbanasi. There are several churches, two monasteries.
The Church of the Nativity Arbanasi
If you were only going to visit one church in Arbanasi this would be my favourite choice.
Built during the 15th century the Nativity Church is the oldest in Arbanasi. The interior is covered in wonderful frescoes and paintings from the 17th century depicting scenes from the old and new testaments.
It is believed that this church has the most detailed description of Christian themes and motifs in Bulgaria. The wood-carved altar is also one of the oldest and best preserved in the country
Tours to Arbanasi
The Monastery of St. Nikolas
Founded by the Asen family the monastery was robbed and burnt down in 1393, 1717 and 1729 by the Ottomans. It was later abandoned in 1744 due to an epidemic of the plague, most of the monks who lived at the monastery died.
The St Nicholas monastery was rebuilt after the liberation of Bulgaria. Many of the icons you see today were gifts from Russian officers and soldiers.
Like many monasteries in Bulgaria, overnight accommodation is available.
The Assumption of the Lady Convent
This small church was built and painted in the 17th Century. The many people who come here to pray and light a candle also stand in front of a silver icon of the Holy Mother of Christ. The mother icon is believed to cure incurable illnesses and bring good luck in life.
Souvenir Shopping in Arbanasi
Wandering around the lovely streets and alley’s you will come across many places to buy gifts. There are at least two antique shops to browse and art studios of various media. You will also find ladies with handmade crafts such as lace and knitwear and other items that may be of interest which you can buy directly from them.