Tryavna is one of the top one hundred places to visit in Bulgaria. It nestles in the forested foothills of the Balkan range, 40kms south from the old capital of Veliko Tarnovo.
The history of the town dates back centuries and during 1190 the mountain pass became the scene of the Battle of Tryavna which saw the defeat of the retreating Byzantine army.
The Tryavna pass also helped to populate the area. During the 15- 16 century during the Ottoman rule, settlers were given tax incentives to guard the mountain pass from the ‘Hajduci’ who were the modern day guerrilla fighters rebelling against the Ottoman authority.
Tryavna Wood Carving Heritage
Between the 17th – 18th centuries the Tryavna artistic school was founded and the town became well known for its many craftsmen of religious icon carvings and paintings.
The fame of these works spread throughout Russia, Serbia as well as Romania and the Ottoman Empire.
Today, the school still exists and is the only museum in Bulgaria dedicated to wood carving.
Three styles of carving are taught.
Shepherds Carving. These were simple carvings to household items, like spoons, candle holders, cigar boxes etc
Home decoration. A little more elaborate like the sun ceilings.
Church carving. This style being more exquisite.
Daskalov House Museum
Built in 1804 by the merchant Christo Daskalov it houses the museum of wood carving and exhibits of icon painting.
It is a wonderful example of a richly decorated house in the early Bulgarian revival period.
In two of the rooms of the house you can see two decorated ceilings of the sun.
Story has it that a bet was made between the master woodcarver Dimitar Oshanetsa and his assistant Ivan Bochukovetsa ,to see who could carve the most beautiful ceiling.
‘Beauty being in the eye of the beholder’, if you visit you can decide who won the bet!
TRYAVNA CLOCK TOWER
One of the prominent features of Tryavna is the clock tower in the town square dating back to 1814.
The tower is also depicted on the town’s coat of arms
The “kivgireniyat” bridge, built above the river behind the clock tower leads into the Tryavna area of the national revival period.
Tryavna Old Town and Museums
Another symbol of the town is the church of St Archangel Michael. Built in the 12th century it houses several masterpeices of wood-carving including the ‘Bishops Chair’
Walking over the 19th century stone bridge leads you into the cobbled streets of Tryavna’s National revival period houses.
Walking along this street you will find wood carving workshops, a shoemakers shop, local art as well as varied souvenir shops where you can buy local crafts, pottery etc, the prices of which are in keeping with other tourist towns around Bulgaria.
All the houses have been well preserved in the architectural reserve town and several of the old homes of celebrated Bulgarian public figures are now museums.
Angel Kunchev House Museum
Many Tryavna inhabitants took an active part in the struggles for the liberation of Bulgaria. Angel Kunchev was a young revolutionary and Vasil Levski’s first assistant.
The museum exhibits photographs, documents, weapons and other personal items of those locals participating in the struggle.
This house, documents the poetical works of father and son, Petko and Pencho Slaveykov. Pencho was nominated for the Nobel Prize but died before having a chance to win it.
The Old School Museum
Have a look at how a class was run in 1893.
One of the first secular schools in Bulgaria was built in Tryavna between 1836-1839
The old school as it is known used the monitorial education system which grouped pupils by ability. During the 19th century children in the top group would be taught by a qualified teacher although they also taught pupils in the lower groups too.
Petko made many significant changes in the school and so today the Old school is also known as the Slaveykov school.
During 1849 the town of Tryavna invited Petko Slaveykov to be a teacher in the school and he introduced the study of physical education,music and fine arts. One year later the first annual examinations were held.
Museum of Asian and African Art
This unique exhibition, the only one of its kind on the Balkans, is housed on the site of the old public baths. Items on display include voodoo masks for use in magic rituals. Nearly 400 items from India, Tibet, Nepal and Africa can be seen.
Raykovs House Museum
This was the birthplace and home of Pencho Raykov who became the first professor of chemistry in Bulgaria. The museum exhibits mix traditional Bulgarian living with Western influences.
Tryavna became a popular tourist spot back in the 1920’s when a Sanatorium for Lung and Respiratory diseases was built.
The village of Voneshta Voda 20 kms to the east is famous for its mineral waters and many people come for the healing powers of its spring.
Tryavna is easily reached by bus or train and makes a great day out from closer towns like Veliko Tarnovo and Gabrovo.
For those wishing to stay longer, there are many hotels and guest houses to choose from and the town has many restaurants where you can taste the local food.
Cycling and Walking
For those who love the fresh mountain air, there are several hiking and cycle trails to follow.
Bikes can be hired from one of the shops in town or from the hotels and guest houses.
Trail maps can be found in the tourist information office in the town.
Tryavna Ultra. The Ultimate Challenge!
For those ‘die hard’ extreme runners there is an annual competition takes place in Tryavna. Distances of 141kms – 76 kms – 23 kms – 3 kms
Here is a link to the Tryavna Ultra if you wish to challenge yourself!
Restaurants and Accommodation
Restaurant prices are on par with other tourist towns and the food has been excellent in several of the restaurants we have tried.
Guest houses and hotels are plentiful for those wishing to stay in the area.