Location: Black Sea Coast Type: road trip; nature landmarks; historical landmarks; caves; Black Sea Coast; Bulgaria Suitable for children: yes; with a baby carrier for babies and toddlers
Yailata is a national archaeological reserve on the Bulgarian seaside, famous for its 101 cave “apartments” from the 5th century B.C and an early-Byzantine stronghold from the late 5th century A.D. The area is situated 18 km northeast from the town of Kavarna, close to the Rusalka resort.
It is a seaside ledge with an area of 300 acres, separated from the sea by cliffs of 50-60 meters height. The name of the site comes from the characteristics of the terrain. Translated from Turkish, Yailata means “high pasture.” It has been inhabited by Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs, and each of these cultures has left its mark on the land over the centuries.
Some years ago the area was quite wild and unknown to the general public. Its existence was only known to local people, fishermen, archaeologists and campers. It is in the cave apartments that the campers found shelter in the warm summer evenings. They slept in the 2 or 3-bedroom homes of the ancient people or on the beach under the stars, enjoying the tranquility of the severed sea paradise in the daytime, gathering around the fire in the evening. And then there was always someone to play the guitar and embody the magic of the place in music.
But contractors and real estate developers have long been trying to end this old-fashioned romance. And with time campers have ceased to come here. On the other hand everywhere around the reserve are emerging signs, information boards and litter bins. Once even a concrete slab, but that’s another story… And at the very beginning of the path, that leads into the reserve, nowadays is a parking lot and an information desk, where you have to pay a 3 Bulgarian lev entrance fee.
Never mind, nothing I wrote or could write on this topic could fully express the beauty of the place, which will be revealed to you, as you enter Yailata.
A signboard will lead you down a narrow but safe path over the breaking waves, first to the fortress and then to the caves. The fortress itself could not impress you very much. There are four towers and a tower-gate, which are only partially preserved, and are generally like any other ancient pile of stones.
Much more interesting are the caves, hollowed in the rocks above the roaring sea. They can be reached down a path of stone stairs and are rather easily accessible. In some of the ancient apartments you can still recognize the purpose of each room – whether by the stone bed or the remains of “cupboards”, carved into the rocks.
Here you can also see the a cave turned into a church during the middle ages – the Saints Constantine and Helena temple, with unique Bulgarian runes, crosses and stone icons, as well as Thracian wineries from the fifth century B.C.
Walking around Yailata you will surely enjoy the beautiful scenery and mystical calmness of the place. After awhile you will reach the end of the path where one can sit on the rocks, listen to the sea and watch how the waves break at his feet.
Another trail enters into a forest and comes across the cliffs on a small beach, and then goes all the way to the Rusalka resort. But stop and rest here for a while. Listen to the waves and they will carry you centuries ago…