The new archeological sensation on our Southern Black Sea coast
The Akra Fortress is the new archaeological sensation on our Southern Black Sea coast. The discovery was not unexpected - the military, whose secret base was located near Chernomorets years ago, has reported archaeological traces of it.
The fortress, part of which the sea has swallowed, provokes interesting versions of what it was in the past. Archaeologists have found remains of a sunk city, 2/3 of which were located on land, and the remaining 1/3 under the water. According to historians, "Akra" is an ancient Byzantine fortress. It has sunk in the water since the 5th century BC, due to the increase in the sea level, which is a consequence of the warming of the climate. Indeed, previous observations in Nessebar and Ahtopol show that significant parts of the cities that arose in VI-V BC are under the water - for example, the northern fortress wall of Nessebar - ancient Mesemvria, the "St. Kirik" Island, which is a part of the town, also the fortress "Akra" on Cape Akin in the town of Chernomorets.
The scientists are quite rightly asked, "Why did the ancients turn to Akra?". Historians claim that there were countries with a certain territory in this region. "With a happy chance, the ancient writers told us where the area of Apollonia Pontica - from Anhialo (today town of Pomorie) to Cape Tiniada in Turkey has spread, and Apollonians created villages and towns everywhere in this area. This way they tried to solve the demographic boom of today's Sozopol peninsula. But with 7-10 children, when married at an early age, this very quickly made the peninsula narrow, so Apollonia as per ancient writers founded at least 10-12 such towns. Nowadays among them are the town of Pomorie, the town Iniada in Turkey, Atia, Akra on Akin Cape, Hersonesos on Maslen nos Cape and Urdoviza the peninsula near Kiten and Ahtopol.
Every time passing along Cape Akin, on the way from Burgas to Sozopol, even in winter, when the sea is rocked by huge waves, it is noticeable that the bay is completely calm. Historians, therefore, believe that there is no way for the ancient inhabitants of this peninsula not to have used to build one of their towns there. Besides the Akra fortress wall and the huge tower at the seashore, which is part of the town, there is an even more ancient settlement, which has existed for more than 1000 years. For it, the scientists judge on discovered amphorae, household and building ceramics. This was obviously a town of Apollonia Pontica and, according to ancient writers, it had important functions in Apollonia's intermediary trade with the surrounding world. Cars loaded with timber, charcoal and leather have been leaving Strandzha Mountain to be loaded on ships in this area. A proof of this are the discovered lead and stone anchors.
The team that conducted the excavations believed that there was a small Byzantine town with strong military functions on the Akin Peninsula. It was roughly equal to the area of the Old Town of Sozopol and had the mission of guarding the quiet bays around Apollonia, to control the sea trade and, at the same time, to secure the protection of the local population. According to the archaeologists, Akra was built with the same type of dwellings and was considered a benchmark for a semi-urban settlement from the Early Byzantine period. It is also alleged that there were abundant Christian churches in this place. Many utensils pars found here have cross stamps, which is a testimony to the Christian culture of the inhabitants of these lands.
A very interesting fact is the double name that this cape has - one is "Akin" and the other is "Akra". Archaeologists claim that the name "Akin" is the modern one, and "Akra" is the oldest one, which means cape, peak, and citadel - a fortified place. The early settlement was probably called Akin. But the fortress wall was in operation for no more than 100 years. During the great Avar invasion in 584 the fortress was burned. It was not until the 11th century that life near the port tower was renewed in the neighbourhood that was sunk. Exactly there were found materials from the same period giving scientists the impression that when Byzantium returned to the coast after a march in eastern Bulgaria in 1001 (during the reign of King Samuil), life in the harbour area of the fortress was restored. From there are the interesting finds found by the underwater expedition of National Hstorical Museum, which makes it possible for the port to be considered one of the main supply points of Constantinople.
The hypothesis of historians is that the name "Akra" has appeared on the Bulgarian lands since 1187. Then the crusaders of the Third Crusade, with King Richard the Lionheart, suffered defeat in their war with Sultan Saladin. Their main fortress is Akra in Israel, and they leave it. Richard the Lionheart returns to England to search for his crown, but his subordinate crusaders are employed in Byzantium. "We understand this because the chroniclers, describing the campaign of King Kaloyan to Varna in 1201, say that they are firing the fortress defended by the crusaders, much before King Baldwin's Fourth Crusade, which conquers Constantinople, so the Varna crusaders could not to be Baldwin Knights, most of whom find work as mercenaries in the closest solvent state of Byzantium, and apparently have been placed in the fortresses on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. "For this reason, it seems highly probable that crusaders who restored the fortress have called it with the name of the place where they spent decades - Akra fortress in Israel - historians believe. That’s why, according to them, the names are two.
Nowadays the Akra fortress is visited annually by hundreds of tourists who remain fascinated and forever captured by its beauty and mysticism. Once touched by the magic of the Akra, they forever bear in their hearts the memory of the centuries-old ancient tower, the fortress wall that sank in the depths of the sea, the remains of various buildings bearing the spirit of a rich and living history. And the view! It is magical - indescribable, charming, supernatural! A view that makes you love it! Forever!
The fortress is located on Cape Akra, 1.5 km northwest of the centre of Chernomorets. Altitude: 27 m, GPS coordinates: 42°27'29" N / 27°37'40" E. It can be reached by a dirt road, both by foot and by car.