Arbanasi is a small village in north central Bulgaria popular with tourists because of its well-preserved historical buildings and proximity to Veliko Tarnovo. The picturesque atmosphere of the village is due to the unique architecture of the houses - each with high and strong surrounding walls and massive wooden gates.
The oldest houses of Arbanasi are made entirely of stone and resemble tiny models of fortresses that cannot be seen anywhere else in Bulgaria. These houses have internal staircases and small windows with metal bars, which strengthen the impression of fortress-like constructions.
Arbanasi reached its economic peak during the second half of the 17 century. The village had over 1000 houses and its population included nobility who traded with Italy, the Austria-Hungarian Empire, Russia, and India. Numerous crafts were developed – goldsmithing, coppersmithing, blacksmithing, and silkworm-breeding. The houses, churches, and monasteries built during that time are proof of the economic progress and prosperity. Today there are 144 houses, 7 churches, and 2 monasteries with rich interior decorations, carvings, and wall-paintings dating back to the 13 – 18 centuries.
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