Paloma, our motorhome has continued to hug the Bulgarian coast line, moving about 45km down towards the ecological reserve in Cape Kaliakra. (N43.368153, E28.464224)
Today, the cape with its eco reserve, wind farm, tourist attraction and golf courses, offers few clues as to the countless bloody battles which have been fought along this length of the Black Sea coast.
Нос Калиакра ( got to love the alphabet as that is cape Kaliakra) Offers a fantastic view point over the Black Sea, the cape has seen a long history of fortifications; occupied successively by the Thracians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Bulgarians, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Romania. – just the British missing then !
Unsurprising then, that this picturesque stretch of coastline has been the inspiration for countless myths and legends, and we’re going to explore a few.
The Kaliakra peninsula stretches 2km into the Black Sea. We took the van as far as we could, checked with the parking attendant that it would be ok to overnight, with a shrug, he said ok and then we made our way down to the tip of the peninsula on foot.
Myth number one ( isn’t it cool when signs are in English)
When the Ottoman Empire invaded Bulgaria in the late 14th century, burning and raping their way across the country, livestock was slaughtered for sport, villages and crops were set alight and those who resisted were killed where they stood ( sound good so far) The girls who were captured were kept for the pleasure of the Ottoman officers.
When the troops approached the cape the 40 girls of the headland, stood strong. They tied their hair together, and jumped from the edge of the cliff; preferring to die on the rocks beneath rather than be captured !
As we explored the cape we came across loads of smaller monuments and statues some of these looked to be new additions, while others have been well eroded by wind and water and now appeared almost timeless.
Myth number two
Another local legend explains the formation of the peninsula. Saint Nicholas, patron saint of seamen, was fleeing the Ottomans to aid his escape God created the cape beneath his feet, a narrow path stretching out into the sea. He was nevertheless captured, – A hard one to believe !
Myth number three
Cape Kaliakra has long been regarded as a strategic significance for battle, back In 14 something or other while heading south to face the Ottoman Empire, King Władysław III made camp at Kaliakra.
Then again the cape was to play a key role , in the later Russo-Turkish War. It was here that the Russian Admiral Fyodor Ushakov sailed south to smash the Turkish fleet. The Battle of Cape Kaliakra, fought on 11 August 1791, which was reputebly the fiercest naval battle the Black Sea had ever seen and brought an end to the Russo-Turkish War !
As we passed through row upon row of stone foundations, the remains of a town that once surrounded the Kaliakra Fortress. I needed to know more –
The Kaliakra Fortress continued to grow. A second fortress wall was built during the Hellenistic period, and later the Romans would extend the original fortress after which the fortress featured inner and outer townships.
Kaliakra Fortress remained an important military outpost throughout the 5th and 6th centuries, the Byzantine General Vitalin and his rebel army is said to have dealt a crushing blow to the forces of Emperor Anastasius I.
Myth number four
According to history it was at Kaliakra that King Lysimachus built his capital. He was ruler of the Thrace after Alexander the Great. When he returned to Kaliakra with treasures galore won in his campaigns he hid his fortune in the caves scattered along the cape, Lysimachus and his entire fleet were drowned in a major storm, and the treasure remains unfounded !
Enough myths and legends for one day…….
Sadly the only statue with no English is the statue of Admiral Ushakov , a Russian admiral – the statue has a real commusit feel to its look… but I can’t work out his connection to the cape ?
Stunning day out and overnight parking for 6 Lev, ( less than £3) oh and the sea views are to die for !