BULGARIA'S MYSTERY ROCKS

BULGARIA'S MYSTERY ROCKS

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 08:28

Natural or manmade? Pobiti Kamani near Varna challenge imagination

a2429d666fe7ce4e9cc4add5ad02bfd0_XL.jpg
According to a legend that was probably concocted in the late 20th or early 21st century and was possibly inspired by Jorge Luis Borges's story of the hidden meaning of a tiger's stripes, the pillars are the bodies of petrified giants who, when seen from

When the first Western traveller saw Pobiti Kamani near Varna, he could not believe his eyes. The massive stone pillars emerging from the sandy, shrub-covered wilderness made Viktor Teplyakov, a "special missions officer" in the Russian army during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, rein in his horse. He wanted to explore, but there was no time.

"The gigantic pillars' location does not follow any order or common architectural pattern," Teplyakov wrote later. "In some places, they rise in the form of perfect cylinders, while in others they look like towers or broken pyramids or truncated cones; some are wide at their base and seem as if encircled with broad cornices. There are hillocks so thick with pillars that they remind me of the ruins of an ancient gallery. Some of them are hollow and their core is filled with a grey sandy mass."

Teplyakov's description was the first we have of the natural phenomenon of Pobiti Kamani. The area with the stone pillars, some of which are over 9 m tall, covers more than 70 sq km and is among the popular tourist sites in the vicinity of Varna. The rocks are also known as Dikilitash. This name comes from Turkish and means the same as in Bulgarian, "Stones Beaten Into the Ground." Situated on both sides of the old road to Sofia, there are over 300 stone pillars. In the summer, you would be hard pushed to feel the mystical charm that attracted Teplyakov. There will be busloads of tourists plus the inevitable litter.

pobiti kamani varna

Teplyakov believed that Pobiti Kamani was the remains of an unknown prehistoric civilisation – probably the same one that created the massive structures at Tiryns and Mycenae, in Greece. The man who made the first scientific evaluation of the phenomenon had no such misconceptions. He realised that Pobiti Kamani was the result of a natural process. Like Teplyakov, he was a foreigner, an army officer and visiting the area because of a war. Thomas Spratt, a captain in the British Royal Navy, saw Pobiti Kamani in 1854, during the Crimean War.

"On the whole, they were believed to be artificially created, perhaps the remains of a huge temple of some earlier people, for example.

A perfunctory glance might certainly suggest that they were shaped for some such purpose by man. But a more careful eye would notice their irregular position, shape and height, which shows clearly that they were not made artificially. Because there are several which are partially formed in the rocks in the area, the similarity of this stone mass to a cromlech or a druidic altar naturally leads to the idea that they have some connection with the early beliefs of the East. They might have been used in this way and adapted to the religious ideas and services of earlier people, but they are certainly not a construction or creation of man. They are, in my opinion, natural creations," wrote Spratt in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London in 1857. There, he also published the first engraving of the rock phenomenon.

pobiti kamani varna

Geologists are still not unanimous about how the sandstone pillars of Pobiti Kamani were formed. Some say that they are the remains of primeval organisms: prehistoric coral reefs or petrified trees.

According to the most popular theory Pobiti Kamani is not of organic origin. The pillars began to form 50 million years ago, when what is today northeastern Bulgaria was the bottom of a lake. There were natural gas deposits under the earth's crust, which began to rise up to the surface. While passing through the water, the bubbles began to oxidise the methane present in some of the bacteria in the water. Gradually, calcium carbonate pillars formed around the outflows. Then everything became petrified over the millennia. When the lake dried up, the columns were left on the surface. The wind, rain, cold and heat continued working on them.

When the first humans appeared in these lands, Pobiti Kamani was already standing – fully formed and a challenge to the imagination.

In 1937, Pobiti Kamani was declared a protected natural area, the first in Bulgaria.

pobiti kamani varna

 

pobiti kamani varna

 

pobiti kamani varna

 

pobiti kamani varna

 


us4bg-logo-reversal.pngVibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners


Issue 163 Nature Natural phenomenon The Black Sea Legends Bulgaria America for Bulgaria Foundation

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

Bulgarian Black Sea beaches
BULGARIA'S WILDEST BEACHES
Anyone who's visited Sunny Beach or the stretch of coast south of Sozopol will be amazed: Bulgaria's Black Sea shore, actually, is not just a concrete jungle dotted with multi-storey hotels, casinos and bars.

eyes of god cave
INSIDE GOD'S EYES
The Eyes of God: whoever came up with this name for the most impressive feature of Prohodna Cave, near Karlukovo, did a good job. The two openings in the ceiling of the cave really look like the gaze of a supranatural being.

nesebar from air night
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF NESEBAR
Looking for some peace and quiet on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in summer is a natural aspiration, even in a year of pandemic and reduced international tourism like 2021.

sea daffodils
BULGARIA'S SEA DAFFODILS
Some of the sand dunes along the southern Black Sea coast that have not yet been overbuilt with hotels and resorts are the home of a fine and very delicate wildflower, the sea daffodil.

old plovdiv houses
THE SECRETS OF REVIVAL PERIOD PLOVDIV
The braw houses lining the cobblestone streets of Old Plovdiv are arguably the city's most recognisable sight. The only thing that can distract from marvelling at their painted façades, projecting bay windows and verdant gardens is the pavement.

seamstresses
FROM RAG TO LABEL
If you arrive in the village of Breznitsa in the evening, you’ll catch the glint of a gold-laminated minaret out of A Thousand And One Nights.

lavender field bulgaria
BULGARIA'S LAVENDER AFFAIR
"If I see another one of you posing in a lavender field, I will scream!," a Facebook friend posted recently.

old bridge bulgaria ottoman
BULGARIA'S WONDROUS BRIDGES
With their ingenuity, some bridges puzzle, and those you will find in Bulgaria are no exception. Some of them are centuries-old, while others are relatively new.

mausoleum alexander of battemberg
FORGOTTEN MAUSOLEUM
The stories of what happened to the bodies of those who ruled Bulgaria post-1878 are as poignant as some of their deeds. King Ferdinand (1887-1918) was buried in 1948 in Coburg, Germany.

kaliakra cape
THE LEGENDS OF CAPE KALIAKRA
There is something mysterious in the picturesque ruins of a fortress on a rocky cape rising 70m above the crashing waves that seems to have inspired both horrifying or outlandish stories.

creators_of_the_bulgarian_state_monument_2.jpg
1,340 YEARS OF BULGARIA
When was Bulgaria founded?

bulgarian rose
DARK SIDE OF BULGARIAN ROSE
You have already seen it: in Bulgaria's official logo, on fridge magnets, boxes of Turkish delight, cosmetics, Facebook and Instagram posts, and any tourism promotion material imaginable.