Are these pillars the ruined temple of some lost civilization—or the mysterious handiwork of nature? About 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Varna, the major port on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, there is a strange landscape that looks exactly like the ruins of some ancient temple. Scattered over an area about 2,600 feet (800 meters) long and 325 feet (100 meters) wide is an array of 300 stone pillars. Some have toppled but most of them remain upright, planted firmly in the sandy soil. The name of the major group, Pobitite Kamani, means “planted stones!”
A few of the rock columns resemble teeth with projecting roots, and a couple seem to form a giant gateway. But most of them, neatly spaced and up to 20 feet (6 meters) high, are almost perfectly cylindrical pillars of rock. It is hardly surprising that a Russian archeologist who visited the area in 1892 assumed that they were the ruins of an ancient temple.
Nor are these the only “planted stones” in the area. Nearby there are other clusters of similar rock columns. Some have swollen conical bases; others, capped by pieces of limestone, resemble giant mushrooms. In yet another group there is a huge column some 40 feet (12 meters) in circumference and a pillar that stands 23 feet (7 meters) tall, decorated with limestone formations similar to those found on cave walls.
The cave formations offer a clue to the origin of the strange stone columns of Pobitite Kamani. Geologists theorize that they are in effect stalactites that formed in a layer of sand rather than in the open space of a cave. Bit by bit the sand deposit was covered by a layer of limestone. But eventually the limestone was dissolved by groundwater that had filtered down through cracks and fissures into the sand. There the minerals were redeposited, cementing the sand into columns of resistant rock that were eventually exposed by erosion. Sarah love seeing Prague and writes about the city on her site.