There are places untouched by history and time, where the present and the future shape a perfect picture, attracting visitors from all over the world. Dyado Nikola Square in the renaissance mountain town of Tryavna is one of these places. "The pride of Tryavna", as the locals call it, is a spacious grey cobblestone square with an endless amount of cafes and buildings, in the typical renaissance style that surrounds it. It is hard to find a similar place combining so beautifully the comforts of the 21st century with ancient tradition. The reason for this seamless harmony is the largely preserved renaissance appearance of Tryavna. It is one of the few towns in Bulgaria that has kept their authentic renaissance style. Tryavna is located in the northern part of the Balkan, 200 kilometres from Sofia. The old Dyado Nikola Square is in the very centre of the town and is named "the heart and soul" of Tryavna by no accident. You will know you have entered the square when you stumble upon a spacious opening surrounded by petite renaissance buildings. Mingling with the cheerful tourists in the square you will notice the old Clock Tower which the locals lovingly call the Bulgarian Big Ben, and even today it is still considered the biggest sight in Tryavna. Some residents even refer to it as the symbol of the town. The Clock Tower was built back in 1814 and the sweet folk song "Kalino Mome" ("Kalina Lassie") can still be heard all over Tryavna every hour; but the high rising tower is not the only sight in the square, notorious for attracting an abundance of tourists.
The School of Arts is located at the western end of Dyado Nikola Square, across from the Clock Tower. The finest trades of wood-carving are taught there in addition to subjects like sculpture and fine arts. This is the only place in Bulgaria where students learn how to draw, write and engrave wood. The building of the School itself, as the locals describe it, looks very much like a monastery. The whole space is occupied by the typical renaissance-style building characterised by a big wooden gate on one side. The school has no playground for the students to spend during break time, but there is a flower garden and the fragrance of the flowers beautifully combines with the smell of moist wood. The interior design of the School is the complete contrast to its exterior appearance. Inside the school there are modern corridors made of white marble, the floors are covered with tiles, and interesting paintings of famous artists hang on the walls. All of this contributes to the atmosphere of creativity and innovation. Visitors are allowed in some of the workshops of the School and they can watch wood being modelled into various figures. The School is open every day between 09:00 amand 06:00 pm, but the students only have classes on weekdays.
After the School visitors can go to one of the many small workshops situated in the square, where an unusual style of art is on display. Elderly master carvers paint ancient decorations using fine utensils made of wood. The "golden" hands of a sculptor shape flawless earthen pots in the next workshop. Old ladies are sitting in several of the shops quickly weaving rugs decorated with traditional Bulgarian motives. Younger women are making cachet-hook table-cloths in hospitable small shops nearby. The sense of a craft fair is completed by art studios, scattered here and there, full of colourful paintings depicting various sights of the town. Visitors who would like to buy souvenirs have come to the right place. Numerous shops surround Dyado Nikola Squarewhere you can depart with precious findings in your hands, with the majority of shops around the square opening from 09:00 am to 06:00 pm.
Once you are done browsing around the many workshops and souvenir shops in the square, you can take a break from the crafts and sit in one of the typical folk-style cafes nearby. Apart from its old shops and various types of arts, Dyado Nikola Square is famous for its attractive cafes. There is hardly a better spot in Tryavna to have your morning or afternoon coffee. But if you look carefully at the cafes you'll be surprised to find out that coffee is actually prepared on sand. This is a special technology only used in Tryavna, where a large barrel is filled with sand, and a fire is lit underneath it. Grains of coffee are then placed into small cups which are buried deep into the sand, to be heated by the fire where the coffee is boiled. Jam is an obligatory addition to the sand-boiled coffee. White jam is a must which is a real delicacy in Tryavna. White jam looks very much like melted sugar but it is sweeter and harder, that's why it is always served with a glass of water.
If you want to dive into the renaissance spirit of Dyado Nikola Square, just go for it and visit Tryavna. You should mingle with the bustling crowd and see with your own eyes the small traditional shops, symbolised by tireless work where you can feel the past and the future merging right in front of you, promising for an unforgettable adventure.