Veliko Turnovo is one of the oldest cities in Bulgaria, with a history that stretches back more than five thousand years, according to archaeological finds. The upsurge of Veliko Turnovo is related to the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1393). In 1185 the town was declared capital of the restored Bulgarian State. After its selection to be a capital, the town developed fast, and from the 12th - 14th century it was the most secure fortress in Bulgaria, as well as a cultural and intellectual centre.
The most significant building in Veliko Turnovo is the medieval fortification called Tsarevets, which stands on a mountain surrounded on three sides by the River Yantra. Excavations show that although Tsarevets is surrounded by a fortified wall, it was not a closed fortress, but a real medieval town, with a palace and the church of St. Petka, as well as multiple residential and economic buildings, water reservoirs and battle towers. The Patriarch's residence was on the highest part of Tsarevets, and the Patriarch's church "The Ascension of Christ" was also nearby.