Veliko Tarnovo is a province in the middle of Northern Bulgaria. Its capital city, Veliko Tarnovo, is of enormous historical significance as it is known as the capital of Medieval Bulgaria.
Other towns in the province include Gorna Oryahovitsa, which is within 10 kilometres of Veliko Tarnovo, Svishtov, set on Danube River, and Suhindol, the hometown of Lovico — an internationally recognised label for fine wines and spirits. Another notable place is the village of Arbanasi, set between Veliko Tarnovo and Gorna Oryahovitsa. The combination of old style and modern architecture, as well as its churches and monasteries, present the spirit of Bulgaria. Veliko Tarnovo region is divided into the following municipalities: Elena, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Lyaskovets, Pavlikeni, Polski Trambesh, Strashitza, Svishtov, Suhindol, Veliko Tarnovo and Zlataritsa.
Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, having a history of more than 5 millennia, as the first traces of human presence dating from the 3rd millennium BC are on Trapezitsa Hill.
During the Middle Ages, Veliko Tarnovo grew quickly to become the strongest Bulgarian fortification between the 12th and 14th century and the most important political, economic, cultural and religious centre of the empire. In the 14th century as the Byzantine Empire weakened Tarnovo claimed to be the Third Rome based on its preeminent cultural influence in the Balkans and the Slavic Orthodox world. The city flourished and grew for over 200 years. Тhe political upsurge and spiritual development were interrupted in 1393 on 17 July, when after vigorous resistance to a 3-month siege Veliko Tarnovo had been seized and the whole Bulgarian Kingdom had been destroyed by the invader - The Ottoman Empire. The Medieval Bulgaria, towns and villages, monasteries and churches, were burn to ashes. Veliko Tarnovo, known in the Middle Ages as Tarnovgrad, was the location of two uprisings against Ottoman rule, in 1598 (the First Tarnovo Uprising) and 1686 (the Second Tarnovo Uprising), both of which failed to liberate Bulgaria.
Tarnovgrad, along with the rest of present-day Bulgaria, remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century, when national identity and culture reasserted themselves as a strengthening resistance movement. The idea of the establishment of an independent Bulgarian church and nation motivated the 1875 and 1876 uprisings in town. On 23 April 1876, the April Uprising marked the beginning of the end of the Ottoman occupation. It was soon followed by the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). On 7 July 1877, Russian general Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko liberated Veliko Tarnovo, ending the 480-year-rule of the Ottoman Empire. In 1878, the Treaty of Berlin created a Principality of Bulgaria between the Danube and the Stara Planina range, with its seat at the old Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo.
On 17 April 1879, the first National Assembly convened in Veliko Turnovo to ratify the state's first constitution, known as the Tarnovo Constitution, the key result of which resulted in the transfer of Parliament from Tarnovgrad to Sofia, which today remains the Bulgarian capital.
In deference to the city's past, Tsar Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg Gotha chose the St Forty Martyrs Church in Veliko Tarnovo as the place to declare the complete independence of Bulgaria on October 5, 1908.
In 1965, the city, then officially known as Tarnovo, was renamed to Veliko Tarnovo (Great Tarnovo) to commemorate its rich history and importance.