Fortress of Michael the Warrior

The stronghold of Anevsko Kale probably preserves the remains of the medieval town of Kopsis

Photo: Adelina Lozanova The remains of Anevsko Kale are located on a high hill at the foot of the Central Balkan Mountain Range.

Powerful fortification walls rise over the southern foothills of the Balkan Mountain Range near ​​the village of Anevo, close to the town of Sopot. Known as Anevsko Kale, this fortress perches on a stone hill with a height of 958 metres. It is among the best preserved strongholds from the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The place itself has remained almost intact due to the extremely difficult approach to it.

It is believed that the fortress is one of the three neighbourhoods of the predecessor of today's Sopot - the medieval town of Kopsis. According to some researchers, Kopsis is the long-sought early medieval town of Potuka (or Potoka) described in the hagiography of one of the first Christian saints of Bulgarian origin - St Michael the Warrior from Potuka.

It was discovered that the fortress was set up on three levels - a central main body (citadel) and two surrounding suburb areas below it. Only the citadel itself was fortified. The fortification walls enclosed an area of ​​five decares. They were equipped with steady turrets, bastions and counter supports. The main entrance of the fortress was from the south, constructed with an above door turret.

Remains of about 15 housing buildings have been discovered in the inner area of ​​the citadel. Archaeological research in the lower suburb area proves the existence of a monastery complex dating back to the 13th-14th centuries, established on the spot of a more ancient complex - from the 5th-6th centuries, each one with a church as well. A huge medieval necropolis is located nearby.

Many tools of everyday life, art and coins of Bulgarian rulers, as well as numerous inscriptions in Medieval Bulgarian language, were also found. The research gives grounds for the fortress and its suburbs to be identified with the medieval town of Kopsis, considered until recently to have been lost. It was the seat of Voysil, despot of Kopsis and brother of Bulgarian Tsar Smilets (1292-1298).

Concerning its architecture, Anevsko Kale is a close analogue of the castles on the Balkans and throughout Europe. The well-preserved northern tower, which served as a dungeon, is a clear evidence for it. In the upper suburb, outside the fortification walls, a crypt with three Christian burials was also found. The discovered church buildings present a particularly interesting find. Two of them are single-nave, single-apse, with a narthex, according to their foundations design. They were richly decorated with frescoes inside and ceramic wall tiles outside.

The fortress was mentioned in the Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov's travelogue One Spot of the Balkan, in 1882, and a year later - the Czech historian and researcher Konstantin Jirecek also wrote about it. Throughout its existence, Anevsko Kale performed strictly defined social, political, cultural and economic functions, which made it extremely important for the rulers who lived there.

A glacier in Antarctica is also named Kopsis. Within the fortress's area, one can see massive fortification remains and enjoy charming views of the Karlovo valley and the Sredna Gora Mountains.

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