In this series of posts, we will explore the sites in Southeastern Europe that are the modern-day counterparts to the ancient locales described and mentioned in our novel. We will also delve into what these sites offer visitors today!
Maybe you’re doing some traveling in Eastern Europe, and perhaps you’re heading to the Black Sea Riviera in Bulgaria. Or perhaps you’re already there! If you happen to be near the bustling port city of Burgas, you may want to take a break from the seaside and venture inland for a day trip. In the mood for some history? Or a nice glass of wine? (Both, you say?) Then consider heading westward to Yambol Province—and specifically, Kabyle.
And even if you’re traveling in Eastern Europe only virtually, feel free to simply travel through time with us to Kabyle in this post!
Our second stop as we travel through time is…
Kabyle—the second locale in ancient Thrace mentioned in The Mask!
The settlement of Kabyle, noted by ancient historians, including Polybius, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder, was established around 2000 BCE. Named after the mother goddess Cybele, the town grew at the foot of an important hilltop sanctuary and astronomical observatory. Once a Thracian stronghold and important center in Southeastern Thrace, the town changed dominion several times during its turbulent history.
Conquered by Philip II of Macedonia in 342-341 BCE, Kabyle was eventually incorporated into Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Empire. After the break-up of the empire, the town was retaken by the powerful Thracian tribe of the Odrysae and was the seat of the Odrysian dynasts Spartokos and Skostokos. At the beginning of the 2nd century BCE, Kabyle appears to have been one of the most prosperous settlements in Thrace, numbering 7,000 inhabitants.
But in the 1st century BCE, Kabyle was conquered once again; this time, by the Romans under Marcus Lucullus. During the Roman period, the city housed one of the largest military camps in the Balkan provinces, and Kabyle became an important crossroads in the Roman Province of Thrace, located approximately midway between Byzantium/Constantinople and the Danube River.
Kabyle—a place with plenty to offer for lovers of both Thracian and Roman history
Nowadays, the ruins of ancient Kabyle are located just outside the modern village of Kabile, Yambol Province in southeastern Bulgaria. An interesting archaeological site only 95 kilometers (59 miles) from Burgas, Kabyle can be reached via bus or car.
The reserve includes the ruins of the ancient Thracian settlement, the ruins of the Roman town, the remains of the hilltop sanctuary and observatory, and a reconstructed Roman-style fort. Beautiful mosaics, coins, and other artifacts are also on display at the on-site museum. Visitors can also enjoy organized Roman period reenactments.
The surrounding Yambol district is home to several prestigious wineries and wines of distinction, so a day trip combining both history exploration and wine-tasting can be easily arranged from Burgas or Plovdiv. Furthermore, not too far from Kabyle is the quaint historical village of Zheravna, a treasure trove of preserved Bulgarian Revival Period architecture, as well as the “Blue Rocks” section of the Balkan Mountains near Sliven.
Thank you for traveling through time with us today! In our next post, we will continue west and venture to the Valley of the Kings. But not the one in Egypt… the Valley of the Thracian Kings!