In the first millennium BC the territory of the modern town was occupied by the ancient Thracian and Greek polis Kruni. It spread on a large area, encircled by a wall. To the north it reached what today is the bus station. To the west its wall continued to the west of the main street, covering part of today's center. The south wall started from today’s History Museum and continued south of the main street to the street which is south of the Art Gallery and the river. Its east wall went north, following the river. During 3rd – 4th c. AD the borders of the late antique Dionysopolis expanded, reaching Dzhenny hill and the sea. Although scarce, the archaeological studies conducted to date in the modern town, allow us a peek into the secrets of the ancient Greek polis. They confirm that it conducted a lively overseas trade and had a good manufacturing base and rich hinterland: workshops for Thracian ceramic products, vineyards, agricultural lands, fishing. In the middle of the 6th c. AD a powerful earthquake befell the city and was followed by a terrific flooding from the sea along the entire coast. As a result, landslides occurred and the polis was destroyed to the ground. The surviving population of the ancient city moved to the new fort, whose construction began at the end of the 5th c. and the beginning of the 6th. It is situated on the plain’s plateau, northwest of the center of Balchik, on the territory of the current neighborhood “Horizont”, about 1 km from the beach. It occupies the angle of the coastal plateau which is almost 220 m high, formed between the steep, sometimes vertical sea slopes (to the south) and a wide and deep valley (to the east). The fortress has an irregular shape, as it is strongly elongated from south-southwest to north-northeast. It stands more than 300 meters away from the southern slope of the coastal plateau and occupies the edge of its terrace and the upper part of the slope leading towards the valley to the east.
The area of the fortress is about 150 decares, which is why it has not yet been fully studied. So far have been uncovered parts of the city walls, the gates and the defensive towers. It is believed that the construction of the fort started by Emperor Anastasius and was completed by Emperor Justinian I, assuming that the finishing works had to be hastened as a consequence of the catastrophic flooding of 544/545. Apparently it was after this year that the ancient population left Dionysopolis and moved here. The arrival of the Bulgarians in these lands was a turning point in the long process of ethnic and territorial changes initiated as a result of the Migration Period. Fortified places of significance to the empire remained abandoned and desolate for a long time. It is on their ruins that the Proto-Bulgarians settled firmly. Undoubtedly, this process affected the whole plain, which after that became knows as the Karvun land, while the settlement was called Karvuna. During the first three centuries of the existence of Danubian Bulgaria, the Bulgarian nationality was consolidated. Located in close proximity to ancient capitals Pliska and Preslav, the area was densely populated and covered by aulas – forts and fortified urban settlements. Along with Drastar (modern-day Silistra) an exception to the rule was only the unfinished fort near the village of Nikulitsel, abandoned by Khan Asparukh’s Bulgarians, and the one near Balchik, which proves to be not only the largest but also the only one in the whole area of the Danube Delta to Pliska which had a priority in the defense strategy of the first Bulgarian Empire.
Within the project “Improving the tourist attractions and the related infrastructure in the Balchik Municipality” under Operational Program “Regional Development”, conservation, restoration and exhibition of the fortress will be carried out. In order to turn the site into a tourist attraction a non-verbal interpretation through information signs will be provided. Given the location of the site and the complexity of its historical development guided tours and an individual system for tourist interpretation will be provided.
Where: neighborhood “Horizont”, Balchik
When: all year round. For more information: Tourist Information Centre Balchik, tel.: 0579 / 7 10 87
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