Veliko Turnovo, view
click on image to view big picture
Nearly 170 years after the collapse of the first Bulgarian kingdom following
the struggles of a liberation movement north of the Balkan range but cantered
on Veliko Turnovo, the city became Bulgaria's fourth capital in 1187. Surviving
as capital until the country succumbed to Ottoman rule at the end of the fourteenth
century, the town was also symbolically chosen as the place in which the National
Assembly met in 1879 to draft the first constitution following the abolition of
Turkish domination. The Old Konak, designed by Kolyo Fichetto in 1872, has seen
many key historical events and now houses the Museum of the National Revival and
the Constituent Assembly.
The Architectural Reserve of Tsarevets protects the mediaeval fortress walls
and gates, including Baldwin Tower, the Palace and ruins of the Church of the
Blessed Saviour. On the opposite bank of the river Yantra, which snakes round
all structures in such a manner as to provide a natural defense, and also within
the reserve. The Trapezitsa Elevation is noted for the many churches and other
buildings excavated there.
In 1205, Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan attacked and defeated the crusaders army north of
Adrianople. The first emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire Baldwin I of Flanders
was captured was captured and locked in the Frenkhisar, or Frankish, Tower. Legend has it the Latin emperor resisted the advances of the Bulgarian Queen, who immediately
accused him of attempted rape and had him executed.
Another version states Baldwin jumped from the tower and met his death at the bottom of the deep gorge where the Yantra River flows. Baldwin's
fate remains a mystery to this day. It is known that 20 years after his capture, a hermit emerged in Flanders claiming to be the former emperor. Despite attacti put to death. Situated at the southeastern
part of Tsarevets Fortress, the tower where Baldwin was held prisoner now bears his name.