Arbanasi is an architectural reserve situated 4 km from Veliko Turnovo. The village is a museum of cultural heritage. Some of Arbanasi's churches, monasteries and houses are under UNESCO protection for world cultural heritage.
The village lies 400 m above sea level on a high rocky plateau facing the Tsarevets and Trapezitsa historic hills. The whole Arbanasi is a museum. The earliest written evidence for the village dates back from 1538 year, a sultan firman by Syuleiman The Magnificent giving the lands of Arbanasi, Lyaskovets, Gorna and Dolna Oryahovitsa as a present to his brother-in-law, the grand vizir Rustem Pasha. There is another historic document about Arbanasi, from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sofia Petar Bogdan Bakshich who visited Veliko Tarnovo in 1649 and was surprised to find out that there is a town in the mountain next to Veliko Tarnovo, consisting of 1000 houses, and from which the whole city could be seen. Because the town had many privileges, it quickly developed into an economic centre at the end of XVII century, inhabited by many merchant families. Well developed occupations in Arbanasi were silk production, gold and coppersmithing and vine-growing. At the end of XVIII century the village was robbed and burnt and most of the rich families escaped to Romania and Russia. Soon after that Arbanasi was populated again but it never reached the same level of development because in 1839 all of Arbanasi’s privileges for trading and taxes were revoked. The town could not develop economically, but fortunately, most of the buildings in Arbanasi were preserved. In 1921 Arbanasi is announced for a reserve by the King of Bulgaria and in the year 2000 for “historical settlement” of national significance.
There are seven churches in Arbanasi: Church of the Nativity of Christ (XV-XVII century), Church of Saints Archangels Michael and Gabriel (XVI-XVIII century), Church of Saint Demetrius (XVII-XVIII century), Church of Saint George (XVII century), Church of Saint Athanasius (XVII century), Monastery of Saint Nicholas (XVII-XVIII century), Arbanasi Monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God (XVII-XVIII century). All the churches are relatively small, with one room only, which has two departments: male and female department. All the churches are made of stone and have small windos with iron gratings. The floor of every church is laid with square bricks. The sanctuaries have wall-paintings and wood-carvings from the Bulgarian National Revival period.
The rich history, the presence of cultural monuments and the extremely beautiful mountain area turn Arbanasi into one of the most remarkable places in Bulgaria.