Whether you’re familiar with the sights of Veliko Tarnovo and know how to navigate yourself around, or if you’re a first time traveller to the city, taking the Free Walking Tour will offer you a unique insight into Bulgarian history and the stories that lie behind the most prominent landmarks and statues in the city.
The walking tours start outside the Tourist Information Centre and although they don’t operate every day during the off-peak season, the organisers are happy to arrange a personal tour at your convenience if you arrange it in advance. So, after a short introduction of what to expect and a brief background to Bulgarian history, my guide, Danika, and I meet up and set off a short distance to our first port of call: the Mother Bulgaria Monument.
It was very clear from the outset that the tour was going to be both entertaining and informative as Danika talked passionately about Bulgarian wars, invasions and occupations whilst we walked around each of the memorials – subjects that can often be recounted in a lacklustre way but were told with enthusiasm. Well versed on all aspects of Bulgarian society, past and present, my knowledge is enlightened by a circuit that comprises of a combination of local tourist hot spots and lesser known icons of local history.
Ordinarily, they offer two tours a day: one of the old part of town which encompasses a more historical approach to the most popular tourist attractions and the other, an Art Tour. Danika had suggested that we combine the two which made a more interesting aspect to the walk and so, as we walked through the streets, she also explained the inspiration behind some of the numerous street art. I have seen most of this art adorning the brick walls, doorways, electricity boxes and steps around town for many years, yet her expertise – partly based upon direct research with the artists involved, and partly down to her own knowledge of politics and social struggles – proved to bring a revealing angle to the artwork.
Danika is a very natural tour guide who doesn’t overload you with boring facts, but instead, narrates history, art and culture in an engaging way that is easy to keep up with. Before going on the tour I thought I was relatively well informed about Tarnovo but I was to be proved very wrong! As we strolled from one end of town to the other, there were many more surprising factors to learn but you’ll have to go on the tour yourself to find out more about the old and new urban legends of this city.
The Walking Tour starts at 11am every day and last around two hours. You can find more information and updates here