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48-hour festival to bring colour and music to Veliko Tarnovo’s Old Town

The square in front of Tsarevets Fortress
Photo: Facebook / Varusha South

A growing number of towns and villages in Bulgaria are being revived as their central districts are being transformed into special zones where art, culture and quality food combine in a perfect mix of sensations.

Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Gabrovo are just some of the cities where the transformed parts of the downtown are already favourite meeting places for both locals and visitors.

One of Veliko Tarnovo's oldest residential districts, Varusha-South, is recently being similarly revamped.

Samovodska Charshia street in Veliko Tarnovo's Varusha district

Its cobbled streets once echoed with the hustle and bustle of its many inns and taverns. The Samovodska Charshia, one of the largest town markets in Bulgaria's  post-liberation period in the late 19th century, was located there. The former market place is now a street of artisans and attracts tourists from all over the world.

A group of young people decided to focus public attention on the transformation of this central part of the city in the most popular way - by creating a festival named "48 Hours Varusha-South".

"Don't build such high walls to divide you, but more bridges to unite you", said the man who built two of the iconic buildings of the Charshiya: "The House with the Monkey" (1849) and the inn of Hadji Nikoli (built from 1858 to 1862) - the Bulgarian self-taught architect, master builder and sculptor Kolyo Ficheto

The Hadji Nikoli Inn built in the mid-19th century

Although he is not the only master who shaped the image of Veliko Tarnovo, his words have shaped the minds of generations.

The idea of the festival which will be held on August 19, 20 and 21 is also in line with the message of Master Kolyo Ficheto:

"One of the most important bridges that this festival is building is the one between the citizens and the institutions - explained to Radio Bulgaria one of the organizers, Galin Popov. - I have been organizing cultural events in the region for more than 10 years and I have never seen such a great commitment of the institutions as now with the festival "48 hours Varusha-South". Probably because it was initiated by many people and the institutions recognize it as representing a significant part of the citizens of Veliko Tarnovo."

More than 20 exhibitions will be held during the festival.

"One Square Meter of Art" is an initiative where for the last 4 years, in a space of 1 square meter, the curator Martina Yordanova has been presenting different artists. During the festival, the focus will be on Michail Michailov, who represented Bulgaria at the Venice Biennale. Another exhibition will be hosted by Narativa Gallery, where they will present the artist Krum Bagelski - known in the Veliko Tarnovo area as the author of a huge mural he has been painting for several years on an industrial chimney in Dryanovo."

In addition to the two highlights of the festival's artistic programme presented by Galin Popov, we should also mention the musical programme. It will take place on four stages, two of which are located on the town's main street, which will be closed to cars for about three hours on Saturday night.

"In this way, we want to draw attention to the idea of turning the town's main street into either pedestrian only or a hybrid form as a pedestrian and vehicular thoroughfare. Much of the traffic that passes through the neighborhood is transit and there is an opportunity to redirect it to the road connecting Veliko Tarnovo with the neighboring villages of Arbanassi and Gorna Oryahovitsa," Galin Popov points out.

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

Photos: Facebook / Varusha South, Facebook / Hadji Nikoli Inn
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