Ancient Thracian City Kabile near Bulgaria’s Yambol Attracts Growing Number of Tourists
A growing number of tourists are visiting one of Bulgaria’s most magnificent archaeological wonders, though still a rather unknown destination for cultural tourism – the Ancient Thracian city of Kabile located near today’s southern city of Yambol.
At present, Kabile’s tourism infrastructure is being improved as part of an EU funded project worth BGN 5.5 million (app. EUR 2.8 million), as the archaeological research of one of the most glorious cities of the Odrysian Kingdom, the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians, is continuing, reports private Bulgarian TV channel News7.
The Ancient Thracian city Kabile, which was established at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, is located on the southeastern slope of a tall hill known as Zaychi Vrah (“Rabbit’s Mount”) at a curve of the Tundzha River, with a rock acropolis shrine on the hill’s top.
Kabile was located on the crossroads of several major ancient roads, and the fact there is no modern-day settlement built on top of it makes the Ancient Thracian city a fruitful place for archaeological research and cultural tourism.
Kabile was declared an archaeological site by the Bulgarian authorities in 1927; in 1969, it was granted the status of a monument of culture of national importance, and a national archaeological preserve, and in 1979, it was made part of a nature preserve.
In 2014, the Kabile Archaeological Preserve was visited by a total of 11,600 tourists – which, while a small number, is an increase compared to the previous years.
The number of visitors heading to Kabile as a cultural tourism destination is expected to double in 2015, including as a result of the measures under the EU funded project of Yambol Municipality and Tundzha Municipality.
As part of the project, the local authorities and archaeologists have conserved and restored the major archaeological structures in the Ancient Thracian city Kabile, and have built a “panoramic” bridge near the fortress wall of the Kabile’s Roman military camp providing a panoramic view of both the ancient ruins and the natural scenery.
“The aim of the bridge is to be used by the tourists for better access to the site while also providing them with a view of the large Roman thermae inside of the military camp, and also providing them with a panoramic view outside of the archaeological preserve,” explains Stefan Bakardzhiev, Director of the Yambol Regional Museum of History.
The best studied archaeological structure in Kabile is its Early Christian Great Basilica which features replicas of its original floor mosaics.
“The basilica itself is especially attractive because it is one of the earliest Christian monuments on the territory of today’s Bulgaria’s; what is more, it is the largest of its kind from that period,” Bakardzhiev adds.
The museum hall of the Kabile Archaeological Preserve features a permanent exhibition of the artifacts discovered in the Ancient Thracian city, and along the valley of the Tundzha River.
“We have lots of interesting items on display. We have imported ceramics from the Aegean world with which Kabile had comprehensive trade relations [in the Antiquity] through the Tundzha River which was navigable at the time. And we also have ceramic items that were produced by the artisans of Kabile and slated for exports,” explains Tanya Pavlova, a tour guide at the archaeological preserve.
Learn more about the history of the Ancient Thracian city of Kabile near Bulgaria’s Yambol in the Background Infonotes below!
The Ancient Thracian city of Kabile is an Archaeological Preserve located 10 km away for the southeastern Bulgarian city of Yambol. The city of Kabile was founded at the end of the 2nd millenium BC, and was one of the most important cities of Ancient Thrace. In fact, it is believed to have been one of the royal residences of the kings from the Odryssian Kingdom, the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians. In 341 BC, Kabile was conquered by King Philip II of Macedon. The Ancient Thracian city is mentioned by 14 ancient authors, the first of whom describes its conquest by Philip II of Macedon.
After the collapse of Alexander the Great’s empire, in the 3rd century BC, Kabile was ruled once again by the Ancient Thracians. It was conquered by the Roman Empire in 71 BC, and was later incorporated into the Roman province of Thrace. It was an important regional center in the Late Antiquity as well. The city of Kabile was modeled after the Ancient Greek cities at the time. It boasts a stone acropolis with a unique rock relief of the ancient goddess of Cybele, a protector of the city. In the 4th century AD, Kabile was conquered by the Goths, and was later destroyed for good by the Avars.
Kabile is located on the southeastern slope of a tall hill known as Zaychi Vrah (“Rabbit’s Mount”) at a curve of the Tundzha River, with a rock acropolis shrine on the hill’s top. It stood at the crossroads of several major ancient roads, and the fact there is no modern-day settlement built on top of it makes the Ancient Thracian city a fruitful place for archaeological research and cultural tourism. Kabile was declared an archaeological site by the Bulgarian authorities in 1927; in 1969, it was granted the status of a monument of culture of national importance, and a national archaeological preserve, and in 1979, it was made part of a nature preserve. The Kabile Archaeological Reserve has a territory of 650 decares (160 acres). It features ancient structures such as the agora (a central square), Roman barracks, Roman thermae, a bishop’s basilica, among others. Kabile is excavated every year by archaeological teams from Bulgaria and abroad.
Bulgaria’s Yambol District, which has a territory of 3335 square kilometers, boasts about 4000 archaeology sites, averaging more than one archaeology site per square kilometer. Those include over 3000 burial mounds (tumuli) of which fewer than 2%, or about 60, have been excavated and researched; over 300 prehistoric settlements and settlement mounds; about 50 fortified towns from the Antiquity period (including the Late Iron Age, Ancient Thrace and Ancient Rome, and the Late Antiquity); and about 50 fortified towns from the Middle Ages (Bulgaria and Byzantium). In addition to the 60 excavated burial mounds, only about 20 of the rest of the archaeological sites have been excavated and studied. A total of 87 new archaeological sites, mostly burial mounds but also a dolmen, were discovered in Bulgaria’s Yambol District in 2014 alone.