The Holy Forty Martyrs, St. Dimitar, St. Petar and Pavel Temples

The Holy Forty Martyrs Temple is one of the most emblematic medieval churches in Veliko Tarnovo. It is located at the foot of Tsarevets Fortress. The temple has been a monument of culture since 1964 and is closely related to the history of Bulgaria. It was built and its walls were painted in honour of the victory of Tsar Ivan Asen II over Theodore Komnenos Doukas, ruler of Epirus, in the Battle of Klokotnitsa on March 22, 1230.

The church is composed of two parts: an oblong basilica with six columns and an annex added later to the western side of the building.

It is believed that the Asen Dynasty (a Bulgarian royal dynasty that ruled in the period 1187 – 1280) built a monastery surrounding the church at the end of the 12th century. It was referred to as the Great Lavra and the Royal Monastery in the historical sources from the 12th – 14th centuries and was one of the most important medieval monasteries in the Tarnovo Region.

Bulgarian tsars Kaloyan (who reigned in the period 1197 – 1207) and Ivan Asen II (1218 – 1241), St. Sava of Serbia (1175 – 1235), Tsaritsa Anna Maria (born in 1204 – died in 1237) and Tsaritsa Irene Komnene Doukaina are all buried in the church.

The Orthodox temple also preserves some of the most significant ancient Bulgarian epigraphical monuments that give account of the great deeds of Bulgarian tsars such as Omurtag’s Column, Asen’s Column and the Border Column from Rodosto Fortress dating back to Khan Krum’s reign (803 – 814).

The church of St. Dimitar Solunski is situated at the eastern foot of the Trapezitsa fortress. There the brothers Asen and Peter announced the uprising which led to the restoration of the Bulgarian state in 1186.

The Church of St. Ravnopostol Peter and Paul is located at the northern foot of the fortress of Tsarevets Hill. A monastery complex was formed around the church. Anna-Maria (1221-1237), wife of Tsar Ivana Asen II, ordered the church to be constructed.


Availability for visits: Paid, all year round, available guide.

Transport accessibility: street, there is a bus stop nearby.

Tourist infrastructure: Alleys and signs, hotels and restaurants in the area. In the town of Veliko Tarnovo is working Tourist information center "Tsarevgrad Turnov".

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