Tarnovo (modern Veliko Tarnovo) is a city on the river Jantra in northern Bulgaria. It was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to its capture by the Ottomans in 1393.
Site of a Roman fort probably destroyed by the Visigoths in the late 4th century, Tarnovo was a modest Byzantine city by the 6th century. Captured by Khan Krum around 809, Tarnovo remained in Bulgarian hands until the late 10th century. In Tarnovo Peter and Asen began their revolt against Byzantine rule in 1185, and it became the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, seat of the exarch, and from 1235 seat of the patriarch of Bulgaria. In 1393 the Ottoman Turks captured and burned Tarnovo and deported many of its inhabitants to Asia Minor. In the 14th century Tarnovo was a center of trade and industry and of Slavic literature and scholarship, particularly under Patriarch Evruvitj. After the capture of Tarnovo many Bulgarian scholars sought refuge in Russia and contributed to the development of Russian literature.
The Church of the Forty Martyrs was built by John Asen II to celebrate his victory over Theodore Komnenos Doukas at Klokotnica in 1230. It contains a Greek inscription of Omurtag and a Slavic inscription of John Asen II, and perhaps the tomb of St. Sava of Serbia, who died in Tarnovo in 1251. The Church of Ss. Peter and Paul is a 14th-century reconstruction of a 12th-century building, severely damaged by an earthquake in 1913. The Church of St. Demetrios, built in 1185/6, has the characteristic Bulgarian form of an aisleless, barrel-vaulted hall pierced by a tall drum supporting a dome. In addition, there are the ruins of the vast complex of ruins of the royal palace.