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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Kaliakra cape

Updated: Jun 11

Cape Kaliakra (pronounced Kaliakra, Greek Kali Akkra, translated from Greek means "beautiful cape") is a charming, rocky, elongated and narrow cape on the Bulgarian northern Black Sea coast, located in the southeastern part of the Dobrudzha plateau.

It has always magnetically attracted adventurers with its special charm and unadulterated beauty. The nature here is diverse, alternating greenery, colors, rocky areas and sea views of the endless blue.

The promontory is two kilometers deep into the sea and resembles a peninsula - located in a north-south direction.

How to get here?

Nearby are the two beautiful villages of St. Nicholas and Balgarevo.

Kavarna is 12 km away and Varna is 60 km away.

The strong wind that blows here constantly and all year round, as well as the sea waves have carved the rocks around and given them an exquisite and enchanting shape, unknown elsewhere.

Many caves can be seen along the promontory.

From one of these caves, sometimes described as "rooms", a vaulted window opens over a dizzying precipice, in which the waves of the boundless sea with a loud crash crash around the boulders accumulated under the narrowest protrusion of the mountain promontory. This area is called the "door of the forty maidens".

The unique panoramas, legends and its rich history make Cape Kaliakra one of the most attractive tourist sites - not only because of its beauty, but also because of the fact that this is one of the first protected areas in Bulgaria.

Kaliakra is a nature reserve

Kaliakra was first recognized as a nature reserve in 1966 due to its unique steppe vegetation, many species of plants, shrubs and trees located here (over 400 species) and last but not least - Via Pontica.

"What is Via Pontica?" you will ask. This is an important migration route for migratory birds from Europe to Africa and back.

Every year, a huge number of endangered birds fly from here, which you can hardly see anywhere else in the world.

More than 310 species of birds inhabit the territory of Kaliakra and 100 of them require special care in order to protect them. 106 of these unique birds are protected at European level - the European hooded cormorant, for example, nests here.

Every autumn, between August and October, hundreds of thousands of birds fly over the reserve.

Typical samples are storks - over 30,000, pelicans and cranes, as well as over 3,000 birds of prey, including the globally endangered swamp, falcon and golden eagle.

And in the sea around the cape you will enjoy dolphins.

Kaliakra is an archeological reserve

Kaliakra Archaeological Reserve is one of the 100 national tourist sites in Bulgaria under number 24b.

Here you will find an interesting museum, a place to eat, a lighthouse and a chapel.

The first name of the peninsula was Tirizis - a name derived from the ancient Thracian tribe Tirizi, who inhabited the area in the IV century BC.

An interesting landmark from the time of the Thracians is the ancient fortress wall. It consisted of two parts and protected the existing settlement from enemy invasions. One part was located in the inner part of the city, and the other - in the outer. The first wall protected the city along the land. The remaining ruins to this day rise to two meters in height and surround the surrounding area for 440 meters.

In the outer part of the old town of Tirizis you can see many ancient buildings and ruins left from this distant era. On the territory of the outer part of the city there are many remains of ruins - once beautiful buildings.

During archeological excavations, several medieval churches were discovered.

In the 5th and 6th centuries the name of today's Kaliakra was Acre, and the fortress was called Acre Castelium. It became one of the most important cities in the province of Scythia and was of great importance against the coming barbarian tribes. The fortress was inhabited by Huns and Bulgarians, determined to protect its borders from the Great Byzantine Empire.

An interesting fact is that in 513 a battle broke out near Kaliakra between the rebellious military leader Vitalian and the Byzantine emperor Anastasius I. The emperor tried to bribe the rebel leader, but without success.

Powerless and desperate, Anastasius I sent an army, which was defeated in front of the walls of Acre. According to the chroniclers, the fortress trenches were filled with the corpses of imperial soldiers, and the surrounding land turned red from the shed blood.

To explain the defeat, the Byzantines said that the shamans of the defenders caused a sudden darkness that terrified the soldiers and they went mad into the trenches.

There is a legend that the rocky shore of Kaliakra is reddish in color precisely because of the fierce battles that were constantly fought in these places.

The region marked a rise and continued to develop until the seventh century, after which it declined because the Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians showed no interest in settling in this place.

Discoveries from the 10th century show that Kaliakra bore the names Tetrasiada, Tetrasida, Trisa, Tetrisias, Tirista and Tiriza.

In the 13th century, the land around Cape Kaliakra was owned by the Greeks.

In the 14th century Bulgaria was divided into three parts, and Kaliakra was the center of the easternmost and established itself as a major international trading port. At that time the city marked its greatest prosperity and development.

The Carvonian epoch came and at that time Kaliakra was the capital of the Carvonian principality, and its rulers were Dobrotitsa and Balik.

Because of its good governance, the locals decided to name the town after Dobrotitsa - Dobrich. It is a great honor and gratitude for any ruler, military commander or ruler. This is no accident - the master led a successful military campaign and policy, as evidenced by the minted coins with his face.

The territory of the despotate was named after the despot Dobrotitsa, whose Turkish pronunciation, Dobrudja, has survived to this day.

To this day, the ancient fortress walls from this remarkable era have been preserved, as well as ancient buildings and even parts of the aqueduct.

It was at this time that a strong and reliable navy was created.

During this period Kaliakra became a major center for spiritual and religious life.

During the period 1366 - 1444 Kaliakra was one of the most important political-administrative, economic and spiritual centers.

The lands of Dobrotitsa or today's Dobrudja, where the Kaliakra reserve is located, are one of the most fertile and therefore in the whole region there is a strong development of agriculture and maritime trade.

Maritime maritime trade with Venice and Genoa is developing.

Remains of temples and chapels can still be found in Kaliakra.

It was here, in 1444, that the Russian fleet, commanded by Vladislav Varnenchik himself, landed. At that time, a war was being waged between Russia and Turkey for supremacy over the Black Sea.

During the invasion of the Ottoman Turks in these lands, the fate of the Balkan Peninsula and Byzantium was decided.

The Karvun principality turned out to be one of the last Bulgarian possessions before falling under Ottoman rule.

Most of the legends are from this period.

The historical information about the struggle of the local population to preserve the Bulgarian identity and faith is one of the most impressive.

The most popular legend, which the locals keep and tell, is about the forty Bulgarian virgins, led by the beautiful, tense and most personal girl - Kaliakra, who jump off the rocks to save their faith.

At the end of July 1791, the Russian fleet, led by Admiral Ushakov, defeated the Turkish armada. The Turkish fleet is unable to continue the long and difficult battle with the Russians and admits victory. With this victory ended the Russo-Turkish War from 1787 to 1791.

That is why the monument to Admiral Ushakov, erected in his honor and in gratitude for his glorious deeds, was the first to greet tourists here - near the small parking lot.

Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov was a famous Russian naval commander, Admiral (1799).

Legends and myths

One of the legends about Cape Kaliakra is associated with St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.

When the Ottoman army captured the fortress in 1393, a ship entered the port. The sailors did not know that the fortress had fallen and were glad to return home, but on the shore they were all captured. However, one of them managed to escape and ran along the rocky shore towards the end of the land. But the ground seems to increase with each step, and the sheer cliffs rise seventy meters to save him from pursuers.

According to legend, the escaped man was St. Nicholas himself - the patron saint of sailors.

To save him from the enslaver, the Lord extended the earth beneath his feet, thus creating Cape Kaliakra.

According to another legend, in the caves below the fortress one of the heirs of Alexander the Great - Lysimachus, hid his military booty - a treasure of gold, silver and precious stones.

But the most famous legend is about the forty Bulgarian virgins who braid their hair for each other and throw themselves into the sea so as not to fall into the hands of the Ottoman enslavers.

One of them - the most beautiful, proud and uncompromising girl was called Kaliakra.

Today and in memory of these brave Bulgarian girls at the beginning of Cape Kaliakra you will see an obelisk called the "Gate of the 40 Maidens".

Here is the legend itself:

"During the Ottoman invasion, the invaders managed to conquer the coastal villages. They robbed and looted everything they encountered along the way. They captured forty girls. They chose the most beautiful they met. They took them to the very promontory and imprisoned them in the last one. a cave, leaving a guard to guard them from the entrance.They waited for evening to light violent fires and hand over the beauties to the most distinguished warriors, as a reward for their bravery.

The girls, gathered from different villages, did not know each other, but the common bad fate brought them together as sisters. None of them wanted to be dishonored by the attackers. All day they searched for a way to escape the fate that awaited them.

The bravest of them revealed to them the way to save their honor, pointing to the window and saying: "That's where salvation is, that's where the sea will take us!"

Some of the girls got scared and started crying. But most of them recovered and comforted their comrades: "There is no life for us, it is better to die clean in the sea than to fall into the hands of soldiers."

The girls negotiated for a long time, but some still trembled with fear - they were young, they wanted to live and enjoy the world. But most of them bravely decided their fate - better death than such a fate.

They decided, in order not to give up any of them, to braid their braids for each other.

As the sun began to set, they stood up. In the middle was the bravest and most beautiful girl. She took a step toward the window, and both rows of wings fluttered on either side of her.

When the soldiers saw them, they were like a flock of cranes, with their clothes outstretched and their arms outstretched, floating to the sea.

Dizzy from the sight, no one thought to go down after them and try to save them.

The girls fell into the sea and died in the fading waters of the sunset. They kept their name and maiden honor clean."

I wish you an exceptional and impressive walk!

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