The European countries bordered by the Black Sea have among them dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here are a few to pique your curiosity. Compare the two magnificent Saint Sofias, Kiev’s (Ukraine) a cathedral and Istanbul’s (Turkey) now a museum. The underground city of Cappadocia (Turkey) is unbelievable, as are the Rock Hewn Churches of Ivanovo (Bulgaria). The Wooden Churches of Maramures in Romania are as unusual as the tower houses in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia.
These fascinating European countries straddle the boundary between Europe and Asia, and are the site of some of the most important civilizations and events in Western history.
Georgia has one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world; Turkey is where Greeks (remember Helen of Troy?) the earliest Christians, and the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires flourished. Bulgaria, birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, was a large part of ancient Thrace and a powerful empire for centuries. Romania has protected and maintained its culture despite Byzantine, Ottoman, and Communist rule. The Ukraine has fought for its land with Huns, Goths, and Avars, and suffered through the first “modern” war in the Crimea.
Whether you’re fascinated by Greek antiquities or the cultural evolution of recently independent states, religious or military history, the Black Sea region is teeming with world-renowned historical sites and monuments.
On to Turkey and Safranbolu, a UNESCO Site, the last and largest repository of 19th century, half-timbered Ottoman houses. With its strategic location on the Bosphorus peninsula between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul has been associated with major political, religious and artistic events for more than 2,000 years.
Medieval towns, fortified churches, painted monasteries, wooden masterpieces and ancient Dacian ruins are just some of the attractions that make up Romania’s exceptional cultural heritage. 25 of its beautifully preserved architectural gems have been included by UNESCO in the World Cultural Heritage in acknowledgement of their natural, scenic and monumental appeal.
Romania’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Monastery of Horezu, Medieval fortified churches of Transylvania, Historic centre of Sighisoara, Wooden Churches of Maramures and Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains.
Transylvania is home to nearly two hundred villages with fortified churches built by the Saxons between the 13th and 15th centuries. Having to withstand constant invaders, the villages’ central areas, where the church was located most of the time, were fortified with defence walls, having the capacity to shelter a large number of people. Seven of the fortified churches have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. A visit to these quaint villages, placed amidst lush farmland and green rolling hills, will give travellers a taste of the long-gone medieval times.
Bulgarian Landmarks in the UNESCO List of the World Natural and Cultural Heritage include Kazanluk Tomb. A Thracian tomb, dated to the late 4th-early 3rdcentury B.C. The murals in the burial chamber and in the corridor areof exclusive artistic value. The tomb is located in the Tyulbeto Hillnear the town of Kazanluk.
Among Ukraine National Parks are the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian Mountains, (listed by UNESCO), which extend all the way to Slovakia. UNESCO has entered over 200 of the most important monuments, architectural pearls and historical places in Ukraine onto the organisation's list of world cultural heritage spots.
Ukraine is a historical and cultural treasure-trove that has been forged through the centuries both by the ancestors of the Ukrainian nation and by the dozens of minorities inhabiting these lands, and this is reflected in a diverse mosaic of landmarks, place names and locations.
The historic centre of Odessa has preserved its authentic landscape made of a system of harbours, a coastal area and an extensive upper plateau cut by several ravines. This part of the city also contains a plethora of well preserved historic structures built by renowned architects and engineers. It represents a complete historic ensemble of the 19th century with only a few younger buildings.
Unesco also said that Odessa is example of a cultural landscape, in the core of which is a magnificent Classicistic ensemble of monumental buildings that represents a socio-cultural phenomenon of the "nineteen-century European Union" formed on the basis of a port city.
Georgia joined UNESCO on 7 October 1992. The historic churches of Mtskheta, former capital of the Kingdom of Georgia, are typical of medieval religious architecture in the Caucasus region; they were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994.
Georgians adore the popular song style known as the Chakrulo. This is a polyphonic song of medieval origin that uses metaphors and complex musical ornamentation. It is connected to the cult of wine and winemaking. In 2001 Georgian Traditional Polyphony a Masterpiece was listed by UNESCO as part of the world’s Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage.