PLEASURE CALLED TRYAVNA

by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by Anthony Georgieff

Traditional town preserves a slice of intact Revival Period spirit

tryavna_0.jpg

Unlike other traditional villages and towns in Bulgaria stuck in their museum-feel, Tryavna, a town in the central Stara Planina mountains, is alive. Ordinary people still live in its fine Revival Period houses and the cobbled streets are busy with townsfolk, hurrying about their business.
Tryavna is arguably the only Bulgarian city with a completely preserved Revival Period centre, combining all the elements of 18-19th centuries cityscape: homes and shops, a school and a stone bridge, a church and a clock tower. There were many towns like Tryavna, but their faces were forever lost in the whirlwind of "modernisation" of the 1970s-1980s which saw the replacement of old centres with uniform squares.

Huddled on the banks of the Trevnenska River, Tryavna appeared in 1565 as a village of Derventdzhii – people in the Ottoman Empire whose task was to keep the mountain passes safe for travellers. In the following two centuries, trade and crafts flourished. In the 17th century, a local icon painting school was formed, and today its disciples are still among the most revered icon-painters in Bulgaria. Woodcarving expanded too, forming another school of talented artisans.

The centre of Tryavna today is a living exhibition to the skills and crafts of local masters. Every detail in the old buildings – from the carved wooden beams supporting projecting windows to the big iron nail heads in the wooden doors – shows the desire of old-time masters to create things of beauty and of endurance.

Tryavna

There are several places in Tryavna where the artistic skills of local craftsmen are at their best. The wooden ceilings of the Daskalova Kashta, or The Daskalov House were carved during a competition between a master woodcarver and his ambitious apprentice. Both men carved suns and it is still hard to decide which one is better – the heavy summer sun made by the seasoned master or the young apprentice's sprightly spring sun.

There is more in the Sveti Archangel Mihail, or St Archangel Michael church. Built it the 17th century, it is the oldest in Tryavna, but what you see today is a reconstruction from the early 19th century. Inside, the iconostasis is covered with the intricate woodcarvings of the best Tryavna masters, and the icons are on a par; superb examples of the art of the local icon-painting tradition.

If you want to see more icons, visit the Icon Museum at the so-called Tsarski Paraklis, or King's Chapel, built by Bulgarian Queen Ioanna.

For many, walking Tryavna's cobblestones – not to mention drinking sand-brewed coffee or trying Rakiya in the restaurants – is immersion enough in the old-time atmosphere. For a fuller experience, however, do visit some of the museum houses. Slaveykovata Kashta, or The Slaveykov House, is unchanged from the mid-19th century, when poet Petko Slaveykov and his family lived there. The home of revolutionary Angel Kanchev is another fine example of local Revival Period architecture, and the house of the first Bulgarian professor of Chemistry, Penko Raykov, presents a Europeanised Bulgarian lifestyle from the second half of the 19th century.

Tryavna's main landmark is the 21-metre Clock Tower in the city centre beside the humpback stone bridge. The tower was built in 1814 and a year later had a clockwork mechanism installed to regulate the working hours of the town's merchants and craftsmen. The clockwork is still operational.

What makes Tryavna even more special is that it is not completely stuck in the Revival Period. In the former city public baths' building there is one of the most peculiar museums in Bulgaria, the Museum of Asian and African Art.

Tryavna

  • COMMENTING RULES

    Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

JOIN TopMobility, THE FIRST SHARED E-BIKE SERVICE IN VARNA
The e-bikes will be located at many spots throughout Varna, easing access to anyone eager to use the service.Download TopMobility's app to use up to 5 minutes free every day.

CELEBRATE LOVE IN BULGARIA: TOP ROMANTIC SPOTS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY
And since visiting romantic spots in Europe like Rome or Paris can be costly around the 14th of February, you can have a look at Bulgaria.

ON A HUNT IN BULGARIA
Hunting provokes the most profound instincts embedded in our human nature. Today, people hunt not to survive, but for sport, to test their skills and to maintain populations of game and wildfowl in numbers that do not affect people's life and work.
ON A LUXURY HOLIDAY IN BULGARIA
Modern luxury is all about subtle comfort, elegant aesthetics and the feeling that all of our needs have been met and catered for even before we have realised their existence.

THE GIFTS OF THE NEW YEAR
When the year is still young, we have many reasons to give presents – from the name days in January that are celebrated by thousands of Bulgarians to St Valentine's Day. But do we really need a special occasion to make a gift? Of course not.
THE LAND OF HEALTH
Mineral waters are among Bulgaria's greatest natural resources. In the country have been registered 225 hot and cold springs with diverse chemical content beneficial for the treatment of cardiovascular, lung, joint, gastro-intestinal and other diseases.

TSAR SIMEON II AND TSARINA MARGARITA OPEN BEY HOUSE HOTEL IN BULGARIA
Bey House Hotel, Restaurant, Garden & Turkish Bath announced that His Majesty Tsar Simeon II of the Bulgarians and Her Majesty Tsarina Margarita, arrived at the Bey

TO CATCH A MOMENT
Few things can be such an intense and rich experience as hunting.
5-STAR BULGARIA
Higher quality: one of the effects of the pandemic, which is now ending, was the change in our attitudes when choosing where to spend our vacation.
FACE TO FACE WITH NATURE
Bulgaria is one of the European countries where hunting and hunting and photo safari tourism are a true pleasure. The country's diverse geography offers a variety of landscapes and habitats where numerous animals roam.
LET'S GO ON A LUXURY HOLIDAY!
When we crave to let ourselves in exclusive pleasures. When we seek a place of quiet seclusion among nature. When we want to indulge in exquisite spa experiences and amazing cuisine... we do not book airline tickets for some exotic destination anymore.
THE CALL OF THE WILD
Let's go back to nature! This is the motto of the modern urbanite in 2021, when the time for planning the summer vacation arrives.