I arrived around 9pm (closer to ten) in Veliko Turnovo, a classical city etched into two steep cliffs surrounding a winding river valley. The city itself is built on either side of the river with three distinctive fortifications. I ended up having to take a taxi to find the hostel I was looking for (the first three cabbies had no idea where it was). 2 dollars and 20 minutes poorer I was at the door. I met up with some folks I’d seen when I had been leaving Flag hostel, dropped my gear on my bed, and ran out to meet up with them. Apparently the castle was to have a laser and light show which was spectacular. The heavy rain and thick electrical storm above us canceled the show but nature provided us with one which was just as spectacular. Great arcing bolts of splitting lighting lit the skies behind the castle as the storm raged on. We’d taken shelter in a bus stop and made a dash back to the hostel. We had a few drinks and dinner in the kitchen area of the hostel (gorgeous home with five bed rooms, 3 big dorm rooms, outside patios, wood floors, rose gardens, wine cellars… really spectacular). Calling it a night we prepared to see the fortress in the morning.
The main castle is connected to the city by a narrow and heavily fortified path that leads to a central island splitting the river. It is flanked by the two smaller fortifications (which have not been rebuilt) and contains a small church. The entire area is undergoing archeological reconstruction and is being rebuilt to represent its ancient glory.
The church at the very top of the fortress of Veliko has been completely rebuilt and houses some of the most amazing new gothic christian art I’ve ever seen…bloody and tortured, the gothic style is mixed and turned with new age artistic flair. It’s 100% worth seeing. Really amazing.
From the church I turned and headed down into the city and across toward the main bus station. I found my ticket for the night train to Brasov Romania and then headed to the hostel for a night of rain, revelry and plain fun before catching my train that same night.