Arbanassi houses

These houses have open verandah without windows covered with wooden lids witch open towards the garden. Modest and strict on its exterior outlook, without balconies and veranda, with grids on the windows and thickly covered gates, the Arbanassi house strikes with its wealth and luxury of its interior structure. The basement is built of stones, with vault entrances leading to big stables, cellars, and hiding places. Here is also the living place of the guard and the servants. Two staircases lead to the second floor - main and usual. The drawing-room, the summer and winter bed-rooms, the room for the lying-in woman, the kitchen, the oven (fonrio), the bathroom and the cellar are situated on the second floor. The rooms are situated from the both sides of one hallway (fhorismo). What attracts even today in the Arbanassi house is its inner decoration - the ceiling wood-carving, doors, windows, cabinets, plaster decorations of ceilings, jamal, friezes. All this is proof of the artful skill of the builder. In the preserved houses nowadays there is no special difference in their location. It is in the riches and diversity of the decoration which is proof not only of the taste and skills but also of the financial resources of the owner.
The Arbanassi house is built in the way that it was possible to live in it for a long time without going out except for water from the well in the yard. Every Arbanassi house is surrounded by high stone walls. Every house had a hiding place. These things speak about the uncertainty of the time when the people of this village lived. You can enter the yard of the house through two big oak gates shouldered with big columns and covered with four-layered roof. There is also a small door for a constant connection with the street. There is a small iron door knocker that hammers on a small iron panel. The old Arbanassi fountains with eaves also arouse interest. These are the Kokon and Pazar fountains (Kokonska cheshma, Pazarska cheshma). The first one is opposite the Konstantzaliev’s house and it was being built in 1786 by Mehmed Said Aga. On the front side of the fountain there is a stone inscription with relief old Arabic letters. The inscription says: “Light will come in the eyes and soul of those who looks at it and drinks.”
Out of the preserved houses, two are of interest - the Konstantzaliev’s house and the Hadjiilyiev’s house.
Beside the Arbanassi houses, other sights of interest are the seven Arbanassi churches and two monasteries: some of the most impressive monuments of Bulgarian art in XIV-XVIII c. These are “The Nativity Church”, “Sts Archangels Michael and Gabriel’s church”, “St Demetrius’ church”, “St Atanas’ church”, “St George’s church”, “Holy Virgin’s monastery” and St Nikolas’ monastery.
In architectural plane they are basilicas, one-apse, with semi-cylindrical vault under two-slope roof. They have stone construction; small iron-barred windows and the floors are covered with square bricks. The Arbanassi churches consist of two departments: naos (a men’s department) and narthex (a women’s deprtment). Usually on the northern side there is a small gallery that ends with small chapel. All the churches are wall-painted. The wall-paintings reveal the development of the painting in its transition to the art of the Bulgarian Renaissance and its connection with the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom - Tarnovgrad.