Bulgaria’s central heartland is vital to the national consciousness, for its role in the 18th- and 19th-century National Revival; this legacy lingers in the period architecture of Lovech and Koprivshtitsa, and at battle sites such as the forested Shipka Pass.
The area around the Central Mountains contains two mayor mountain ranges: the Stara Planina and the Sredna Gora, sprawling just to the southeast. The lowlands are famous too for the Valley of Roses, near Kazanlâk, an important producer of rose oil.
Most impressive, however, is Veliko Târnovo, once capital of the Bulgarian tsars. Built into steep hills and bisected by a river, its fortress is among Europe’s most impressive. Târnovo’s exuberant existence as a university town translates into fine dining and busy streets.