During the Second Bulgarian State in Veliko Turnovo and the surrounding area, numerous churches and monasteries were built, which became the center of spiritual and cultural life and became a means of self-preservation.
The time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom was a period of active church building. On the territory of the medieval town were discovered the remains of many monasteries. So far, more than 50 medieval churches are known, many of them related to the relics of the relics of the patron saints of the old throne city. This group includes the following monuments:
– “The Mother of All Churches on Bulgarian Land”, her cubes rise to the highest point of Tsarevets, which emphasizes the idea of the sacral center and the city’s protective power of the sanctuary. Today, the church is completely “restored”. The interior painting of the walls is far from the canon – stylized modernism from the “apogee of Bulgarian art” from the 80’s of the XX century. From the Patriarchate – the “mother of all Bulgarian churches” is the administration and management of church life. The patriarchal complex, surrounded by a fortress wall and towers, occupies an area of 2413 square meters. It housed the library, the secretariat, the patriarch’s residential and office premises, the monks’ cells. The Patriarchal Temple of the Ascension-Lord with a bell tower is located in the middle of the courtyard. It houses the relics of St. Michael the Warrior and the canonized patriarchs Joachim I, Macarius and Joachim III, canonized for saints. Nowadays, the fully restored Patriarchal Temple of the Ascension can be seen. The murals in his interior are the work of the artist Theophanes Sokerov. Large-scale compositions showcase the personalities and highlights of our medieval history.
– Church “40 Holy Martyrs” – the only basilica in Turnovo, is an exception in the architectural style of the XII-XIV centuries, when only cross-domed churches were built in the capital.
One of the most iconic medieval churches in Veliko Turnovo is the Holy Forty Martyrs. It is located at the foot of Tsarevets fortress. The temple has been a cultural monument since 1964 and is closely related to the history of Bulgaria. It was built and painted to commemorate the victory of Tsar Ivan Assen II over the epirus despot Theodor Komnen at Klokotnitsa on March 22, 1230. In the XIII-XIV centuries it was one of the most beautiful and richest churches of the monastery, called the “Great Lavra”. “. The church was respected by the Bulgarians, and its beauty attracted many foreigners who turned up to see it. Patriarch Evtimii has also served on many occasions.
It is estimated that at the end of the XII century the Asenevtsi (Bulgarian royal dynasty, ruled between 1187 and 1280) built a monastery around the church. In the sources from the XII-XIV centuries it was called “The Great Lavra”, “Tsar’s monastery” and was one of the most important medieval monasteries around Turnovo.
The conquest of Tarnovo by the Ottoman Turks led to the decline of the monastery. The social stratum (the Bulgarian aristocracy), which maintained the monastery and the church, reduced the number of Christians. The church served Christians in the neighborhood until the sixteenth century when it was converted into a Muslim mosque. This is precisely what saves the temple, because all the Christian temples of Tzarevets and Trapezitsa were destroyed in the Ottoman era (1396–1878).
The mosque was also called Teke (Mohammedan Monastery). It was also known as Kawak Baba Teke or Dervish Teke. The murals of the Christian church were covered with white lime and the icons and iconostasis were burned. The building itself existed without alterations until 1853. when Hadji Umer wanted to mop up the mosque to please Allah, the arches and arches that were characteristic of Christian architecture were removed, the ceiling was significantly raised and the windows expanded, and the capitals of the columns were removed and placed as bases of wooden beams, signboards The columns themselves, Hadji Hummer wanted to discard as unnecessary, but the Muthesarifin discouraged him. To reach the new ceiling, they were only lowered. The old entrance was built and a new one was made in the northern country through which the entrance was made. To this day, only the outbuilding in the western part, which probably served as a mausoleum, has remained original. Inside the mausoleum was blocked up for a hammam (bath). During the Renaissance, when the Bulgarian national consciousness took shape, the Bulgarians began to seek and collect scanty information about their heroic past. The eyes of many were directed at the Teke Mosque. However, no one could dare to cross her doorstep because they risked being stoned. To enter the mosque was a real feat, and even more so to look for Bulgarian shrines there. Only the folk imagination continued to create marvelous legends and legends, even with the smallest mosque-related incident, and the destruction of the minaret every three to four years without any apparent external reason gave rise to fantastic legends in which it focused.