Cape Kaliakra is one of the most interesting places to visit in northern Bulgaria, if you are a nature fan and you like the tales of bravery and immortality. This place balances between the land and sea, and if you ask me, the view itself is enough to captivate anyone who visits the area!
Cape Kaliakra is located in northern Bulgaria, about 15 km from the Palace in Balchik and 55 km from the Bulgarian-Romanian border. The name "Kaliakra" comes from Thracian and then Greek, meaning “beautiful headland”. It is 2 km long and about 70 m above the sea level. Near the cape, there is a lighthouse, a small temple, called “St. Nicolas”, a fortress and a museum. The museum is housed in one of the many caves, carved by the water throughout the centuries. In the museum, there are displayed results of the latest archeological works in the area.
There are two legends about this place, and they both speak of bravery and immortality.
The first one tells the story of 40 girls, whose villages near the sea were raided by the Ottomans who captured the land in the 15th century. Those 40 girls were the most beautiful young women in the area, and the Ottoman soldiers wanted to keep them for themselves. They left the women in a cave near the cape and went outside to light a fire and prepare the food. Ottomans knew that, because of the specifics of the place, the prisoners have nowhere to escape. One of the girls, whose name was Kaliakra, was braver than the others and managed to convince them to jump in the sea with her. As some were scared to die, she suggested that they all braid their hairs together, and jump while holding the hands, so that no one has a chance to back off. At the sunrise on the next day, 40 women appeared outside holding the hands, with their white robes waved by the wind. Left speechless by this view, the Ottomans could barely move, let alone run after the women and prevent them from jumping. The cape was then named after the bravery of Kaliakra, who managed to keep the dignity of Bulgarian girls untouched, and in this way, they all became immortal. Today, there is an obelisk called “The gate of 40 Maidens”, commemorating this act of heroism.
Another tale is about St. Nicolas and how he was running from the Ottomans, trying to escape the death and God kept extending the land under the saint's feet until the cape appeared. Nevertheless, St. Nicolas was eventually captured and beheaded, but he is still a patron of sailors and fishermen, which is again a tale of bravery and immortality. The temple near the fortress, which is dedicated to this saint, is still functioning and contributes to the magical aura of the place.
Whether you believe in the story of 40 young women or the one about St. Nicolas, it is undeniable that the cape and the area around it have a unique atmosphere. Once you get there, you feel like everything is possible. It is no coincidence that both tales include the bravery and that both main characters have become immortal, even after their death. Visiting Cape Kaliakra, that balances on the verge between the land and sea, is without a doubt a noteworthy experience!
Cover Photo © credits to iStockphoto.com/Lyubov Furs
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