"Power To The People!" Tryavna by johngayton

Tryavna Travel Guide: 23 reviews and 89 photos

Notes From A Day-tripper

From what I'd read and heard about Tryavna I'd expected it to be a "tourist trap" in much the same vein as I'd found Bansko to be. The photos on the web, including this site, collectively give the impression of the town as a museum-piece and so I'd expected over-priced cafes and restaurants, beautifully-restored but souless buildings and the central area to be devoid of local character.

Instead I was pleasantly suprised to find a vibrant community where kids were playing in the snow in the little park, people were shopping in the central shops and the busy little cafes smokingly-inviting and impressively reasonably-priced.

I got the impression that whilst the town is definitely out to attract the tourist trade it seems to have found the balance between generating enough revenue from visitors to keep its buildings well-presented and its streets clean and well-maintained but without losing its own personality.

Admitttedly my day visit was midweek in February with four inches of snow on the ground and I did seem to be the only person walking about with a camera and so perhaps my experience was atypical. I can imagine it being a busy place in the summer but the lack of overdevelopment suggests that the people run their town for their own benefit without the blatant greed that I've noticed elsewhere.

The town nestles in the lower foothills of the Balkans about midway between Sofia and Varna but not on the main road or rail route. Because of its relatively isolated location it managed to avoid Ottoman domination and in early 1800's, as it began to prosper through its craft trades and as a major artististic centre, took on much of its present-day appearance.

The Communist era saw some industrial development with a couple of factories and the inevitable housing blocks but these are much more low-key than found elsewhere.

Even the modern tourism expansion has been more of restoration than building with the exception of a couple of large hotels relatively unobtrusively landscaped on the hills overlooking the town from the north.

The town's tourist appeal is centred around the old town and its host of Revival Period structures, over 140 of which are listed as of National importance. The architectural style is uniquely Tryavnian with solidly-built timber constructions dominating. Several of the houses are museums such as the birthplace of Angel Kanchev, who, as Vasil Levski's deputy in the Central Revolutionary Committee committed suicide rather than be taken captive by the Ottomans, and the magnificently ornate Daskalov House, built in 1808 and featuring ceilings by two of the local master woodcarvers, Dimitar Oshanetsa and Ivan Bochukovetsa, who worked independently on each for six months by way of a bet to see who could create the most elaborate.

There is also the "Street of Crafts", a row of artisanal shops, in their suitably period housing, where you can buy traditional hand-made pottery, woodworks, clothing and paintings as well as more souvenir-type trinkets. One thing I did notice was that the good-looking stuff (of which there's plenty) didn't have price-tags and so best to sharpen up your bartering skills before visiting!

Outside the town the forests and hills are criss-crossed with hiking and cycling trails for which maps are available from the Tourist Office and there is, I believe, a bike hire place in the town (but that wasn't open on my February visit).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A Tourist Town With Its Feet In The Earth
  • Cons:Unfortunately I can imagine it being otherwise.
  • In a nutshell:Must Have A Summer Visit
  • Last visit to Tryavna: Feb 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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