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The village of Arbanassi is one of the most picturesque old villages in the country. The old settlement is situated on a high plateau with a view to the hills of Tzarevetz and Trapezitza, four kilometers from Veliko Turnovo. It's distinguished for its impressive houses and churches with rich interior decoration, wood-carving, and mural paintings created in XVI - XVII century. Namely these unique monuments from our architectural and arts heritage are the cause for Arbanassi to be frequently visited not only by tourists but also by scientists, archeologists, historians, architects, and artists.
With a tsar decree from 1921 the settlement is declared resort, and in 2000 it is declared "historical settlement" with national significance and is included in the UNESCO list for world cultural heritage.
The settlement saw its bloom in the 17-18th c. when it grew into a wealthy crafts and trade hub. It was during that period that most of its gorgeous houses were erected. Unique are the architectural and religions monuments that have come down to us - houses, streets, fountains churches, and monasteries, mural paintings.The oldest houses of Arbanassi are made entirely of stone and resemble tiny models of fortresses that cannot be seen anywhere else in Bulgaria.
These houses have internal staircases and small windows with metal bars, which strengthen the impression of fortress-like constructions. The architectural museum that the entire Arbanassi represents has 144 renovated houses, 5 churches with rich internal decoration and 2 monasteries.
The Nativity church is the oldest Arbanassi church and the most picturesque among them. The mural paintings in the chapel are from 1632 and represent the most important scenes from the live of St.John the Baptist, the patron of the chapel. The iconostasis is one of the earliest examples of wood-work in Bulgaria.
The biggest church is St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel's church and the smallest one is St. Atanas' church built in 1637. St. George's church and St. Dimiter's date respectively from 1661 and 1612.
The two active monasteries are situated right next to the village, these are Holy Virgin's monastery and St Nikolas' monastery.
Out of the preserved houses, two are of interest - the Konstantzaliev's house and the Hadjiilyiev's house. The Konstantsaliev's house was built in the 17th century. The basement was built of stone. The main entrance was protected with a solid studded door. Although the premises are spacious and roomy, the large house fortress emanates coziness and warmth.
The prosperity of Arbanasi lasted till the end of the 18th century when it was plundered and devastated by bands of kurdjalii and its population runaway. Even the humble remains of that prosperous settlement are indicative of the past glory.
Nowadays the village lives a new life as an architectural-artistic reserve. Its unique cultural-historic heritage and its immediate vicinity to Veliko Tarnovo make it an attractive place for the visitors. The ancient atmosphere of Arbanassi is in harmony with the modern tourist services it offers.
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