Sevlievo is right in the geographical centre of Bulgaria, meaning that any corner of Bulgaria is about the same distance from this point. The area is not only recognised for its rich history, but also for its crafts, industrial position and beautiful surroundings. So what to do in Sevlievo, Bulgaria?
Sevlievo is the heir of the medieval fortress Hotalich, which is only 4km away from the city and archaeological diggings are still being made every summer.
The visit to Sevlievo, Bulgaria was part of the 4-day road trip in Bulgaria, (which also included one day in each of these towns: Dryanovo, Gabrovo and Tryavna) and it was the last stop before returning home to Bucharest.
How to get to Sevlievo, Bulgaria?
Renting a car is your best option, guaranteed. There are so many beautiful places to see, and public transport is not helping too much.
But, if you can’t afford it or don’t know how to drive, then the next best thing is to get a train or a bus from Sofia. The bus trip from Sofia to Sevlievo should be under 3 hours. Check the bus schedule on https://avtogari.info/ (use Google translate plugin on the browser), but it would be better to get to the bus station and ask there. The information available online is not enough to buy your ticket.
Where to stay in Sevlievo, Bulgaria?
We arrived in the evening in Sevlievo and checked-in at Sevlievo Plaza Hotel. The hotel was built during communist times but was fully renovated, and it felt pretty comfortable. The location is excellent, as it’s right across the street from Sevlievo city hall.
The lunch was pleasing, with some traditional Bulgarian dishes, which included some vegan options as well. This was one of the few restaurants in Bulgaria, which made my tummy feel good.
Evening in Sevlievo, Bulgaria
For dinner, we went to Coffee Theatre, which is listed as a night club on Google Maps, but it’s more like a rock club, where locals hang out, and they even have rock bands performing live on weekends.
The food was great, even for a vegan. I really enjoyed my grilled vegetables, fries and fresh salad. The Bulgarian wine was excellent. This was probably my favourite place to go out on my 4-day road trip in Bulgaria. So the conclusion is, if locals love it, then you should try it out.
They even have an adorable cat, which comes to say hello to the guests. They have a terrace outside, for summer nights and an underground area, for cold weather, where the singing happens.
After a nice dinner and drinks, we went back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
I slept like a baby. The next morning, I woke up early, and after breakfast, we started exploring. The first stop was the historical museum.
Historical Museum of Sevlievo
The first visit of the day was at the Historical Museum of Sevlievo, Bulgaria. The museum is right next to the city hall, and only 2 minutes away from the Sevlievo Plaza Hotel.
The museum hosts most of the archaeological findings from the medieval fortress Hotalich and counts around 45 000 items – documents, photos, artefacts, artwork and others. The museum is located in the building of the first secular school, Hadzhi Stoyanovs.
As the diggings at Hotalich are still happening every year, for 40 years now, they are adding new exhibits each year. One of the latest addition is a beads necklace, recovered from the cemetery area of Hotalich.
St. Iliya Church
Next to the Historical Museum, an impressive church rises. As I walked inside, I noticed there were steps at the entrance.
The church is a bit buried in the ground, to not make its tower taller than the mosque’s minaret. Remember that Bulgaria was under Ottoman occupation for nearly 500 years and that means they had and still have a lot of mosques. The interior is impressive, having a valuable wood-carved iconostasis.
Dandolovi house ethnographic complex
Dandolov houses is a complex of 3 traditional houses, under one roof. The house was built in 1870 and was restored in 1981.
Today, the houses belong to the Sevlievo Historical Museum and host 3 exhibitions: “Rural and urban life in Sevlievo region during Bulgarian Revival”, “Sevlievо courtyard in the Revival period” and “The Beauty in works of Sevlievo craftsmen during the Revival”.
Hotalich Fortress is the last medieval town. It had been inhabited for more than 1,000 years and functioned as an important defensive centre. Hotalich is basically the town which existed before Sevlievo. As you will see once you visit it, there isn’t much left of it. When the Ottomans attacked it, they burnt it to the ground and today the archaeologists are digging the earth to find base stones of dwellings and churches of the former medieval town.
After the attack, the people from Hotalich decided to settle a bit down the valley, on the spot of today’s Sevlievo.
The site is quite big and you can easily spend 2 hours at Hotalich if the weather allows it. At the entrance, where you park the car, you will find a guide. Once you pay the entrance ticket, the guide will show you around, explaining what they discovered about Hotalich.
The medieval town is situated on a hill, and the more you climb, the better the view is. In front of Hotalich is a valley, and the local guide said that on clear spring days, you can see the peak of the mountains from that hill. The view is beautiful, and I can understand why they choose this place to build a town.
Asen and Iliya Peykovi Art Gallery
If you have the time, please do drop by this local art Gallery. The building itself is one of the most beautiful buildings in Sevlievo.
The ground floor hosts a permanent exhibition, which consists of work of famous sculptor Asen Peykov and the space paintings of his brother Iliya Peykov, who spent their childhood and adolescence in Sevlievo, Bulgaria.
Besides their permanent exhibition, on the second floor is a sell-out exhibition of the local artists, which changes every now and then.
Other sites to see in Sevlievo, Bulgaria
The Liberty Monument
The monument of Liberty is situated in the centre of Seclievo, opposite to the city hall and stands tall, to remind all those who pass by of the free-spirit citizens’ stories. The monument was built a century after the liberation, to commemorate the historic moment. The Clock Tower is another symbol of Sevlievo.
The long karst plateau Strazhata stretches from Gabrovo to Sevlievo and ends North West, with an impressive vertical rock crown called Vitata Stena(The Winding Wall). An eco-trail starting in Sevlievo and passing through the Baadalata reserve, a thick lime-tree forest, leads to the natural sight.
Sevlievo is the starting point for the mountain treks to the Balkan huts Mazalat, Tazha and Sokolna, which are situated within the Central Balkan National Park.
The Tabakhana (tannery)
One of the most attractive sights in Sevlievo is the Tabakhana. This is the only one restored tannery in the country. Tanning was an emblematic craft for Sevlievo, and its goods were sold in big European cities.
I hope I have convinced you to give Bulgaria a chance and explore it deeply, to go on road trips and engage with locals and traditions. Bulgaria has much more to offer, and it’s up to you to discover it.