Kaliakra is a narrow cape with stunning views of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It’s a nature reserve and archaeological site with steep cliffs plunging 70m down to the sea. The cape was named by the Byzantines (Καλή Άκρα), and it translates to “Beautiful Headland”. It was originally settled by the Thracians in the 4th century BC and called Tirizis.
There are some interesting legends about Kaliakra. One is that Lysimachus, a successor of Alexander the Great, stole the imperial treasure, fled to Kaliakra, and died in a storm with his entire fleet just off the cape (he actually died in a battle as the empire broke up). A second is that 40 Bulgarian girls tied their hair together and leapt from the cliffs to their deaths rather than be captured by the invading Ottoman forces. A third says the cape was formed when St. Nicholas was trying to escape from the Ottomans, and as he was running, God made the earth under his feet longer and longer.
I visited Kaliakra on a day trip from Varna, and combined it with the towns of Balchik and Kavarna. Since there’s no public transportation to the cape, I had to negotiate with a taxi driver in Kavarna for a round-trip fare and an hour of waiting time.
After I arrived, I walked down the path from the second defensive wall of the Medieval fortress that dominates the cape. Along the path I was able to see the remains of two small Byzantine churches along with the foundations of ancient homes.
There was also a 4th century Roman bath.
Next was the third defensive wall, which is the biggest part of the fortress still remaining.
The path then led to the end of the cape, passing a few reliefs and monuments along the way. One monument is dedicated to Admiral Fyodor Ushakov of Russia. On July 31, 1791, Ushakov defeated an Ottoman squadron at Kaliakra. As the most successful naval commander in Russian history, he never lost a battle or a single ship in 43 naval battles. The Russian Orthodox Church made him a saint in 2000.
At the end of the cape is a small but scenic chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas.
Since I had plenty of time left over after making it to the end of the cape, I first visited a small museum about Kaliakra. It’s located in a cave and has a scale model of what the cape might have looked like in the past along with several archaeological finds. It costs 3 leva to enter (as of October 2016) and is open daily from April through October, 9am to 7pm. I then had a quick meal of fried calamari at Castello di Kaliakra, a nice restaurant near the end of the cape. Service wasn’t that great but the food was decent.
As my time was winding down, I saw a huge storm brewing off the coast and decided I didn’t want to end up like the legend of Lysimachus. I started to make my way back to my taxi and noticed a cave and Byzantine tombstone as I finished up my visit to the cape.