Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Country / Bulgaria


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Corridor: Eastern Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Bulgaria, Veliko Turnovo
Type: Vernacular Architecture
Epoch: Modern Times
Theme: Vernacular Architecture
World Heritage:
Modern TimesVernacular ArchitectureVernacular Architecture

The village of Arbanassy is situated some 3-4 km from Veliko Tarnovo, on a plateau at 400m above sea level. The oldest document proving its existence is the royal decree of Sultan Mahmud II from 1810, that renewed 10 older decrees. There it was mentioned that in 1538 Suleyman the Great made a gift to his son-in-law Rustem Pasha the villages of the Arbanasses, including the village of Arbanassy, hosting that year 236 families.
There are no exact data for the origin and foundation of the village. It could be assumed that the village existed ever since the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. There are also various theories regarding the ethnic composition of the population.
There are about 100 old houses preserved until nowadays - they take a very special place in Bulgarian vernacular architecture. They bear the characteristics of the fortified Medieval dwelling and according to the researchers form the beginning of last century, they remind the in their building structure the last Boyar houses in Veliko Tarnovo, which disappeared after the devastating earthquake in 1913.
The house of Arbanassy is large and closed; the ground floor is built of stone, with deep vaults; the walls of the upper floor are usually made of wooden planks and more seldom – made of stone. Interesting in the plan scheme is the precise functional differentiation of the numerous premises – men and women guest-rooms, bedrooms, kitchen, store-rooms, lavatories and wash-rooms, rooms for the servants, hiding places. Unlike the simple and severe facades, the interior of the rooms is richly decorated with woodcarving and plastered ornaments on the brick stoves.
The 2 monasteries and 5 churches built during the period 15th – 17th c. prove the economic power and privilege statute of Arbanassy at that time. Of exceptional value are wall paintings in the churches “Birth of Christ”, “The Holy Archangels” and “St. Dimitar”.

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