Northern Black Sea coast gem
Kavarna may be proud of its 2,500-year historyAdelina Lozanova
About 70 kilometres to the northeast of Varna, Bulgaria's 'Black Sea capital', is situated a town which undeservedly remains outside the traditional tourist destinations - its name is Kavarna. Moreover, the town boasts 2,500-year long history and a number of natural, cultural and historical sights.
Greek colonists founded the settlement in the 5th century BC on the plateau of Cape Chirakman. The colony, called Byzone, expanded rapidly and soon turned into a major grain trading centre on the Black Sea coast. During Roman times (1st-5th centuries) the town was thriving, which is testified by numerous remains preserved to the present day.
During the Barbarian invasions (5th-7th centuries) the town fell into decay and after the Slavs and proto-Bulgarians settled in the region, it was completely ruined and deserted. Later on, a new town named Karvuna emerged at its place. The settlement experienced its revival in the 13th, and especially in the 14th century, when it became the main city of the Dobruja despots Balik and Dobrotitsa.
During the Ottoman invasion at the end of the 14th century, the town was razed to the ground but bounced back quickly and in the 15th century was already entered into the Ottoman registers under its present name. Throughout the entire Ottoman period, the town - just like in antiquity - became again a Dobruja hub for grain trade. Many buildings of that period are still preserved along with some of the stores in the port.
The history of the town in modern times is just as tumultuous. After the Liberation in 1878, it had fallen within the boundaries of the Bulgarian Kingdom and was a thriving and prosperous settlement up until the Balkan wars in 1912-1913. However, by virtue of the post-war treaties, Kavarna - along with the entire South Dobruja - was incorporated into Romania and remained part of it up to 1940. Then, the town was returned to Bulgaria under the Treaty of Craiova.
Today the town is an attractive tourist centre owing to its proximity to the Black Sea and well preserved cultural and historical sights. As of 1984, there is an ethnographic centre which is housed in the building of the town's first Bulgarian school, founded in 1869. The complex consists of a restored shoe-maker's and lace-maker's workshops and a big yard. The exposition acquaints visitors with the most typical features of the everyday urban life of the late 19th - early 20th centuries.
The old stores in the port of Kavarna are of special interest, they date back to the 19th century and were used as storehouses for grain meant for export. The complex is a small settlement made of massive stone buildings. Today six of them are architectural monuments of culture.
Among the other sights of Kavarna which are worth visiting are the church of St George, built in 1836, the old Turkish baths dating back to the 15th century and now housing the permanent exhibition Dobruja and the Sea, the old Turkish drinking fountains as well as the magnificent Cape Chirakman, which guards the most ancient remnants in present-day Kavarna.