Step Back in Time to Tryavna
Strolling through the neat, cobbled streets, traditional white-washed buildings designed with characteristic state roofs, overhanging eaves and wooden shutters, will indulge you with a real glimpse of architectural splendour from the Bulgarian National Revival Period. Despite the cold day, inside the windowed shops, artisans can be seen busily crafting beautiful wood, ceramic and textile creations in their tiny workshops, and it seems that nearly every house in this part of town has been preserved in honour of it’s ancestors.
Tryavna, located near Gabrovo and on the northern side of the Stara Planiana Mountains, is one of Bulgaria’s most enchanting Renaissance towns. First impressions would appear that little has changed for centuries, such is the attention to detail given to protecting their cultural and historical heritage. The original settlement dates back as far as 1565, and both the Thracian and Romans have inhabited the area, but, from the Eighteenth Century, it has flourished as a trading and cultural hub which is still very evident today.
During the high seasonal months, crowds of tourists descend on this small town to immerse themselves in the beauty and skills of old and modern artisans. Tryavna is particularly famous for its icon painting and wood-carving to which museums such as the The Daskalov House, with its famous wood-carved ceiling suns, have been meticulously kept as a homage to the intricate skills of previous crafts-people. Traditions have been passed down by generations who are continually learning and sharing their talents though the Tryavna Artistic School which is one of the oldest, and most famous in Bulgaria.
Back in Dyado Nikola Square is another well-known attraction – the Clock Tower. Built from stone, it dates back to 1814 and stands at 21 meters tall with a decorative pointed dome which overwhelms the smaller, cafes and nearby shops. While you’re there, in the cafe next door, you can sample hot chocolate and coffee made on hot barrels of sand, munch on one of the delicious pastries and consume the surrounding atmosphere at your leisure.
From the square you can either take a walk across the arched, stone bridge where the River Trevenska flows underneath, and pass by local shops which sell unique tourist mementos; or go left from the clock and amble down the craft street – Petko Rachov Slaveykov – where you’re able to watch the skilled processes that go into making jewellery, leather, wooden items and icon paintings. The buildings on this street from which local artists create, are themselves works of art and was declared a cultural and historical reserve in 1979. On the opposite side of the road, is the St Archangel Michael Church whose features include its stone roof, wooden belfry, carvings and icons.
There’s much to see in this small town and a day trip just won’t cover it all so if you don’t live in the area, stay at one of the many traditional guest houses to make the most of your visit. There are many more museums and restored houses which used to belong to famous Bulgarian intellectuals, revolutionaries and artists, including, surprisingly, a Museum of Asian and African Art. Over 140 monuments dedicated to Renaissance Art are scattered throughout the streets, and even their recycling bins have an artistic role in this intensely enriching town of Tryavna.
For more information browse the town’s website here but if you have your own tips about what to see, feel free to share them below…