The waters of the Jantra River surround the hill on three sides and turn it into a natural fortress. Tsarevets used to be a residence of the Bulgarian kings and higher clergy. Many civil and public buildings, 22 churches, 4 monastery complexes, streets and squares were discovered on the hill. The Patriarchal church of the Ascension was erected from the ruins.
In the 5th-7th cc on the territory of Veliko Turnovo rose Zikideva the largest Byzantine settlement in the province of Moesia Inferior. Its citadel was situated on the strongly fortified Tsarevets Hill.
In the 9th c on the ruins of the Early Byzantine citadel on Tsarevets Hill grew up a Bulgarian medieval settlement. Gradually it extended during the period of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, and especially during the period of the Byzantine rule. In the 12th settlement was already fortified and within it was erected a nobleman's castle and several Christian religions buildings.
The rebellion against Byzantium was proclaimed in 1185 during the consecration of the Church of "St.Demetrius" -The leaders of the rebellion were two local noblemen - the brothers Peter and Assen. Bulgaria recovered its independence and Turnovo became its capital. And for more than two centuries the town was the political, economic and cultural centre of the state.
The main fortress was on Tsarevets Hill-within it was the Royal Palace - an enclosed fort with representative, administrative and residential buildings.The Residence of the Bulgarian patriarchy rose at the highest site of the hill. The Patriarchal Church of the
Ascension where the relics of St.Michael the Warrior of Potouka were kept, was in the centre of the inner courtyard
Between the strongly fortified hills of Tsarevetz and Trapesitsa, along the Jantra river, in the so called "New City" were built six churches .Around some of them there were monasteries. The most famous were:" The Great Laura" around the church of the Forty Holy Martyrs and the Monastery around the St.st. Peter and Paul church. At the south-eastern slope of Tsarevets Hill was the Quarter of the foreign merchants, known, under the name of Frenk Hissar. In that time Bulgarian was in trade relations with Venice, Genoa, Dubrovnik, and Pisa.
Many cultural and artistic valuables were created in the capital. They define the priority of the town in the fate of the Bulgarian state. For two centuries Turnovo was the main production and spiritual centre. The economic development led to the minting of Bulgarian coins. In the capitals monetary mint King Ivan Assen II struck his first gold coin.
with Bulgarian inscriptions. Gradually the Bulgarian coins began to circulate at the international market.
In the second half of the 14th c they began to be used in Serbia, Bosnia, Walachia, and Venice. Evidence for the international prestige of the Bulgarian state and its capital were the seals of the rulers and the high clergy with the seals were fixed the international contracts the private and the state correspondence.
The sculpture in the capital was a kind of decorative art, connected with the secular and the cult architecture. Along with the works of the monumental sculpture there are diverse samples of small plastics - stone and steatite icons crosses of local and foreign origin, the manufacture of small ceramic icons became very popular. During the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom a very well developed craft ship was the bone carving.
Naturally the manufacture of ornaments was very important for the capital. The ornaments for the aristocracy were made of gold and silver, while the mass production was of copper and alloys, but they repeated the shape of the ornaments made of precious metals. The most popular and attractive technique of filigree, granulation a cellular enamel were applied by the jewelers when they manufactured the ornaments.
Skilful potters produced building, kitchen and decorative ceramics. Of particularly great importance was the manufacture of luxurious vessels with high artistic qualities. In Bulgaria, under the influence of the Byzantine centers, penetrated the "graffito" technique. Turnovo became the largest centre for production of graffito ceramics. The medieval Bulgarian masters assimilated the complex technique of its production perfectly. During the Middle Ages/12th-14th cc./ Turnovo became an important literature and cultural centre, not only for the Bulgarians but for all Slav countries. The Bulgarian kings generously patronized the scholars.