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The medieval fortress of Kaliakra
Location of Kaliakra

Kaliakra (Bulgarian: Калиакра) is a long and narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located 12 km east of Kavarna and 60 km northeast of Varna. The coast is steep with vertical cliffs reaching 70 m down to the sea.[1]

Kaliakra is a nature reserve, where dolphins and cormorants can be observed. It sits on the Via Pontica, a major bird migration route from Africa into Eastern and Northern Europe. Many rare and migrant birds can be seen here in Spring and Autumn and, like much of this coastline, is home to several rare breeding birds (e.g. Pied Wheatear and a local race of European Shag). The rest of the reserve also has unusual breeding birds; Saker Falcon, Lesser Grey Shrike and a host of others.

It also features the remnants of the fortified walls, water-main, baths and residence of Despot Dobrotitsa in the short-lived Principality of Karvuna's medieval capital.[1] The Bolata Cove with a small sheltered beach lies just north at the mouth of a picturesque canyon, also part of the nature reserve.

Name and history[edit]

The following names have been used for the headland and the fortress throughout their history:[2]

The name "Kaliakra" is of Byzantine Greek origin. It is a combination of "καλός" ("beautiful") and "άκρα" ("headland" or "fortress") and is traditionally translated as "Beautiful Headland".[1][3]

Kaliakra was the site of the naval Battle of Cape Kaliakra on 11 August 1791, part of the Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792).

The first modern lighthouse on Kaliakra was built in 1866 by the Compagnie des Phares de l’Empire Ottomane; the present one (a 10-m cylindrical stone masonry tower with lantern and gallery) was erected in 1901, with focal plane height of 68 m and a white flash (every 5 seconds); it also has a radio navigation emitter and a foghorn.[2]

Near Kaliakra, there is a large mediumwave broadcasting facility, which went never in service as planned. Currently (2009), several wind power facilities are under development in the vicinity. The area now has 3 championship golf courses designed by the legendary golfers Gary Player and Ian Woosnam.


Rock beach

Probably the most popular legend about the place is one about 40 Bulgarian girls, who preferred to tie their hair together and jump into the Black Sea rather than face the prospect of being captured by the Ottomans. An obelisk dedicated to this legend is placed at the entrance to the cape, called The Gate of the 40 Maidens.[4]

Another legend tells the story of Saint Nicholas, the patron of seamen, who was running away from the Ottomans when God made the earth under him longer and longer so he could escape, and the cape was formed this way. The saint was eventually captured and a chapel was built in 1993, symbolizing his grave. A dervish monastery is also said to have existed on the same place during Ottoman rule, which is thought to have preserved the relics of Muslim Bektashi saint Sarı Saltık.[4]

A third legend is about Lysimachus, a successor of Alexander the Great, who seized the royal treasure and escaped to Kaliakra, dying in a major storm along with his whole fleet.[5]


Kaliakra Glacier on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Kaliakra.


See Also[edit]

Kaliakra transmitter

External Links[edit]

aerial photos by Rumen Rainov


  1. ^ a b c "Нос Калиакра (Cape Kaliakra)" (in Bulgarian). Visit.bg. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  2. ^ a b Асадуров, Милан. Фаровете по българския черноморски бряг (in Bulgarian). Stalker.Dir.bg. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  3. ^ Трифонов, Трифон (2006). 700 наименования от българското черноморие (in Bulgarian). ISBN 954-8991-33-0. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  4. ^ a b "Българските крепости — Калиакра" (in Bulgarian). BulgarianCastles.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-09. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  5. ^ Димитров, Божидар (2006-03-06). "Цар Лизимах криел съкровища в Калиакра" (in Bulgarian). Standart News. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 

Coordinates: 43°22′N 28°28′E / 43.367°N 28.467°E / 43.367; 28.467