The Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs

A medieval church built probably in the 12th C. during the rule of Tsar Kaloyan. In the 13th C. it is renewed by Tsar Ivan Asen II to commemorate his victory over the Epir despot Kir Theodoros Comnenos at Klokotnitsa. The church is a late basilica with rich ceramic-plastic decoration on the facades. Fragments from the original mural paintings, dating back to 1230, are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Sofia, the National Historical Museum, the Historical Museum in Veliko Turnovo and also in the church that is now restored. On one of the columns there is a dug-in inscription on the construction history of the church, known as the Tarnovo Inscription of Tsar Ivan Asen II. Columns with inscriptions of Khan Omourtag (814-831) and Khan Kroum (803-814) have been inbuilt in the church. In later years the Great Laurel Monastery appears near the church. During the Ottoman rule these are turned into teke (Muslim monastery) and mosque. The church is consecrated anew after the Liberation. In 1908 the vassalage from Turkey is overthrown and the independence of Bulgaria is proclaimed in the church. A tomb, in all probability the tomb of Tsar Kaloyan, has been uncovered in the church necropolis.