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.

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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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