Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument

Photo by Els Slots.

Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument is part of the Tentative list of Bulgaria in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument consists of groups of calcareous columns formed by natural forces. The formations are mainly stone columns between 5 and 7 meters high and from 0.3 to 3 meters thick. The columns do not have solid foundations, but are instead hollow and filled with sand. It lies in a desert-like landscape.

Map of Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Malta - 22-May-24 -

Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument (T) by Clyde

I visited this tWHS as a pleasant detour after visiting the Madara Rider WHS. Although there is a parking lot hidden just behind the site proper, it didn't feel safe at all to leave my car there so I decided to park my car in the very wide shoulder of the main road (as did most other local cars). The main road passes right through the pretty natural landscape and there are very minor limestone formations also on the other side of the road although the beware of snakes sign and the overgrown grass made me just watch from a distance.

The natural monument landscape on the other side is really beautiful to explore. It is quite strange to explore what now looks like a desert landscape in the middle of never-ending sunflower fields (a very ugly looking industrial scale facility is the only eyesore around apart from the main road itself). It has been also dubbed as a "stone forest". The limestone formations are actually tubular stone pillars which formed around "rising methane-bearing fluid plumes". These desert rock formations  are believed to represent an exceptional record of paleo-hydrocarbon seep system. The pathways of fluid circulation are recorded as columns set in sand, producing a desert-like landscape. Apart from the geological importance of the natural monument, Pobiti Kamani is also considered to emanate some sort of cosmic energy.

The Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument occupies an area 8 km long and 3 km wide, with seven groups of stone pillars. The main group which can be visited quite easily is known as "Dikilitash" and includes over 350 stones. Most of the stone pillars are five to seven metres high with a thickness that varies from about 30 centimetres to 3 metres across. The stone pillars are almost all hollow cylinders, mostly filled with sand, and some contain a number of fossils, including petrified remains of numulites, mussels and giant snails. A large number of the stone pillars are also considered to be simulacra, that is accidental natural formations which happen to resemble human faces or other other objects. These appear on a variety of rock surfaces and many have been accredited with names and personalities by the locals, for example the soldier, the lonely man, the small throne, the big throne, the camel, the poodle, the forked stone, the mushroom, the heart, the stone of fertility, the family and the stone of the divine love. The latter formation is made up of a stone pillar that eroded and tumbled down to the ground, but at its core it forms a silhouette of a heart.

The area around the Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument is also blessed with a vast range of flora and fauna. This barren scrubland is in fact home to 21 species of birds, 7 mammals (many rodents roaming around on a quiet day) and more than 240 varieties of plants, many of which are quite rare. That said, I'd be surprised if this ever becomes a WHS, mostly since natural formation hypothesis is still that ... a hypothesis and is still being studied at the Oceanographic Institute in Varna and worldwide. Still, it is a worthwhile detour while in Bulgaria if you have time to spare.


France - 28-Aug-18 -

Pobiti Kamani Natural Monument (T) by Argo

Several areas with “standing stones” (Pobiti Kamani in Bulgarian) can be found immediately West of Varna city. The main area of interest is easily accessible by car and can be visited (at least there is a car park and a ticket office). It can be reached via the national road or via the highway (there is an exit from the highway in the immediate area of the site). Coming from Varna, the national road goes through the area of interest, so you cannot miss it. Car park is immediately after, on the left side of the road (beware, when we visited it August 2018, entrance of the car park was not signed).

Some stones are up to 5 meters high. Some are grouped, some stand alone. Some have fallen. Most of these stones are hollow columns, so they would better be described as tubes. Their immediate environment is quite like a small desert: be prepared to walk on sand. Flora is different as well. There is almost no management of the site, unfortunately, so visitors can walk on the plants, and we even saw some people climbing on stones.

The main question is about the origin of these “standing stones”. Ticket office at the entrance of the site has information panels (in several languages including English) listing different hypothesis. What is for sure is their natural origin. Some believe they are the result of erosion of sedimentation layers, formed at the bottom of the sea. Some believe these structures grew up around trees which then died and disintegrated. Some thought this was corral. One of the most recent proposal is that these structures were created under the sea by micro-organisms who were living around hydrothermal vents of methane. At least this would explain the “tube” aspect.

Bottom line, these standing stones are quite spectacular and this is a nice place for unusual pictures. Mystery around their origin adds to the “enchanted land” aspect. However, I think some progress should be made on how they were formed. They could well be the result of an outstanding, unusual natural phenomenon and this would sound to me as good reason for inscription. But which phenomenon exactly? I believe Unesco Evaluation Bodies would like to know the answer as well, before possibly recommending this site for inscription. 

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