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Saturday, 19 October 2013

Underwater Thracian city of Seuthopolis

View from the Shipka Pass, Stara Planina mountains, Bulgaria. The Koprinka Reservoir that covers the city of Seuthopolis is on the plane in the far distance, a bit to the right. The plane is also known as 'the Valley of the Thracian Kings'.

In the previous post I wrote about the Thracians, the ancient inhabitants of Bulgaria, and mentioned the 'Valley of the Kings' in Central Bulgaria (nowadays also a major Rosa Damascena producing region) - the place where a big concentration of the remaining Thracian architectural constructions can be found.

One of such constructions is the Thracian city of Seuthopolis (4th century BC) - shamefully, put underwater by the communist government. To be more precise, it was discovered in 1948 during the building of the Koprinka Reservoir (dam of the Tundzha river) - and it was marked as the best preserved Thracian city to date - but it was decided to continue with the industrial works anyway and the city was flooded with water.

Now Seuthopolis is about 20 metres underwater. There are no organised diving tours to the site as far as I know but the Bulgarian architect Zkeko Tilev has proposed a plan (one worth at least 50 million euros) to re-claim Seuthopolis from underwater and to make it a major tourist attraction (as well as that the move would enable Seuthopolis to gain a UNESCO World Heritage Site status).

According to the plan, a circular wall around Seuthopolis would be built within the dam - one, similar to those used in archaeological sea excavations - then the water from inside the wall removed. The city would become a 'deep' island within the reservoir. Visitors would reach it by boats and then observe the city from the water level (20 metres above) or they could take a lift down and explore the constructions immediately.   

The summary of the Tilev's proposed plan can be found here (and I strongly recommend to have a look at it as the concept is very interesting).

Worth mentioning is also the fact that the famous Thracian graves in the area (currently appreciated by many tourists, historians and archaeologists alike) are of people from Seuthopolis. That is yet another reason why uncovering the underwater city would make a perfect sense.

Text and photos (c) Agne Drumelyte, 2013.

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