Cape of the 40 maidens

Lysimachus' fabulous treasure is believed to be hidden in the caves near Kaliakra

The gateway and parts of the mighty walls of the Kaliakra fortress are restored to their 14-century view.

Located some 60 kilometres to the northeast of Bulgaria's 'seaside capital' of Varna, the picturesque rocky cape of Kaliakra (from the Greek - beautiful cape) protrudes more than two kilometres into the sea. Its oldest name - Tirizis, dates back to the 4th century BC and is derived from the name of the local Thracian tribe, the Tirizi.

Supposedly, here was the capital city of diadochus Lysimachus (c. 360-281 BC), one of the military generals of Alexander the Great who later on became king of Thrace. According to a local legend, during Alexander's campaigns against Persia, Lysimachus acquired great wealth plundering the rebellious towns. He hid the untold riches of gold, silver and precious stones in a cave by this cape. They have not been found to this day.

Kaliakra was at its heyday in the late 14th century the main city of the Principality of Karvuna of the Bulgarian rulers Balik and Dobrotitsa. Two more legends date from these times. The best-known one is about the 40 Bulgarian maidens enslaved by the Ottomans during the conquest of the Balkans. The girls bravely chose death to being dishonoured. They braided their hair one to the other and threw themselves in the sea. According to the legend, one was called Kaliakra. Old people say the maidens turned into white swans. Today, a vaulted window over the towering abyss at the end of the cape is called 'the gate of the forty maidens'.

The other legend is about St Nicholas, the patron of sailors. The saint was running from the Turks and God protruded the land beneath his feet creating the cape as it is now. At the place where the saint was nevertheless captured, today there is a small chapel. After stubborn resistance, Kaliakra was conquered at the end of the 14th century.

The cape is rich in archaeological remnants - ancient and early Christian necropolises, fortified walls, towers, a water-main, baths. In the region can be seen rare fauna and flora species such as the Pygmy Cormorant, dolphins, wild figs.

In the centre of Kaliakra there is a restaurant for the tourists, while the museum is in a natural cave in the calcareous rocks. The beautiful cape opens a view towards enchanting shores and turquoise blue sea, and incredible sunrises and sunsets amidst romantic ancient ruins.

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