SHIPS OF ROCK

by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff

Quirky natural phenomenon evokes dark past in former border zone

ships of rock 2_0.jpg

Sinemorets, at Bulgaria's southern Black Sea coast, remains one of the most idyllic and calmly beautiful spots around. Overdevelopment has not completely destroyed the pleasure of walking around the little village, once off limits because of its proximity to Turkey, or sunbathing on its popular southern beach. As for Sinemorets's northern beach, its setting is unbeatable: a sand spit, created by the mouth of the Veleka River and backed by rising rocky hills. This is the reason for the popularity of the village among Bulgarian holidaymakers, mainly artists, intellectuals, and hipsters.

However, over its centuries of history, Sinemorets was not always calm or particularly friendly to outsiders, and one of its impressive sights is a reminder of these times.

In the waters of St Yani Bay rise a pair of rocks that resemble ships of stone. Unsurprisingly, they are called Korabite, or The Ships. According to legends, the name was chosen not just because of their similarity to the hulls of sinking ships.

A local legend claims that in the past this place saw many actual shipwrecks as, back in the day, the people of Sinemorets engaged in a rather nasty activity. In stormy weather they used to light fires on the shore, luring passing ships to the false safety of St Yani Bay. Then they looted the unfortunate vessels.

According to a more prosaic legend, this is where some fishermen's boats went on fire and stayed rusting under the elements up until the 1970s.

Korabite has become one of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast's top photo locations. Photographers from all over converge on them day and night. Though you stand a good chance of being alone especially if you visit off season, this is not guaranteed. On the outcrop of land directly above Korabite there is a steep path leading down to sea. It can get very slippery in bad weather.  

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