Bulgarian Old House Village - Arbanassi

  • Travel
  • 18/09/2023 00:00
  • Justina
Bulgarian Old House Village - Arbanassi

Arbanasi, a small village located just 4 kilometers from Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Dynasty (1185-1396), is a preservation zone for old houses in this area. It is quite small, so that you can walk and see almost every corner of the village in 2~3 hours. It is a place where you can fully enjoy the cozy atmosphere strolling after the low walls.
The most famous and must-visit site is the Church of the Nativity of Christ. This place is particularly famous for its beautiful frescoes. In the summer, concerts are held inside this cozy church building.

Church of the Nativity of Christ
This church was built in the 16th century. The murals were completed in 1597. In the 17th century, the northern paraclete and western entrance rooms, which still remain today, were expanded. The walls inside the church are entirely filled with icons. They were filled in several stages over a period of 90 years, including in 1597, 1632, 1643, 1649, and 1681. Therefore, the sacred paintings and murals here contain the widest range of themes, so much so that their origins cannot be traced, and can almost be said to have been listed in a dictionary. For example, there are ‘Virgin Platitera’, ‘Eucharist and Melismos’, and on the south wall you can see images of saints who were soldiers – St. Demeter, St. George, and St. Nestor. Other walls depict scenes of feast days, the sufferings of Jesus, and miracles. Important events from the Bible are depicted, such as the ‘transubstantiation of Christ’, ‘the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary’, and the ‘birth of the Virgin’, and the images of the king and queen of Bulgaria, Constantine and Elena, are also depicted on the wall.
On the other wall, Christ Emmanuel, Christ Pantogrator, and the New Testament Trinity are all depicted. The icon partition was specially commissioned by the Kantakuzin family and demonstrates the magnificence of the art of wood carving. Traditional themes related to ‘judgment’ are depicted on the eastern wall. In addition to ‘Jesus Tan Seng’, it contains anecdotes and depicts the appearances of numerous other saints, and even depicts scenes from the Old Testament. In particular, the scene called ‘A futile life in a world full of lies’ or ‘The Wheel of Life’ is very famous. Also, one wall is engraved with the names of believers who donated their money to build this church.

Konstanzaliev's House
This building is probably the most attractive building in the city of Arbanasi. It is a two-story house built in the 17th century, and its current condition shows the appearance, interior design, and furniture of houses that were common in the 19th century in this area.
Carts carrying large goods entered through the gate on the southwest, with two doors, and people came in and went out through the small and one - winged gate on the north. This door is a wooden door that opens only on one side and has metal firmly embedded. It has a specially designed square shaped hole higher than a person's height, which allows a counterattack from this open area, if there is an intruder just in case. 

For heating, a brick stove was used. The wood-based interior lets you feel the carpenter’s artistic sense. In addition, as a wealthy family, they pursued aesthetic perfection without sparing any materials, clearly showing the architectural aspects of the Balkan region at the time.


Virgin Mary Monastery
It was built during the Second Bulgarian Dynasty, but gradually fell into disrepair under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. However, with reconstruction in 1680, it was revived as a monastery for female monks. It was severely damaged by destruction by the Ottoman Turkish army in 1798, and was restored in 1836, this time adding a bell tower. There is a famous icon, the ‘Troeruchitza, Mother of God’ icon. In particular, it is said that women who wanted to have children prayed and placed coins at the icon, hoping that if the coins stuck to the icon without falling off, the Virgin Mary would hear their prayers.