Markeli FortressThe majestic Markeli Fortress is built on a high hill 7 km west of the town of Karnobat. The earliest archeological finds testify that its territory was inhabited by the Thracians as early as the first millennium BC. Later, in the 6th century, a monumental fortress was built here. A large three-nave basilica was built inside and in the basement of which a martyrdom was discovered during the excavations - an early Christian tomb, in which a particularly holy man or saint is buried. It was built before the basilica.
In the 6th century the road to the river Mochuritsa, at the western foot of the fortress, was fortified.
Markeli became very famous in the early Middle Ages, in the VIII-IX century. It was then that it became a military camp, in which the Byzantine army was concentrated during its numerous campaigns against the first Bulgarian capital Pliska. Several battles between Byzantium and the Bulgarian Khanate took place at the foot of the Markeli fortress.
The reason for the great importance of Markeli during this period is its location. The fortress closes the shortest road from Thrace to the capital Pliska, passing north through the ridge of Stara Planina.
In the 9th century, or a little earlier, the stone fortress of Markeli was surrounded by powerful ramparts. It acquired the appearance of a fortification with earthen embankment walls, enclosing a fortified space of nearly 500 decares. It is still debatable whether this was the work of the Bulgarian rulers or the Byzantine emperors.
At the end of the 10th century Markeli was again a Byzantine fortress. After 1186 it was within the borders of the Bulgarian kingdom, but at the beginning of the XIII century, in 1207, it was destroyed by the Latin Empire.
During the excavations of the Markeli fortress, in addition to numerous ceramic vessels from different epochs, coins, weapons and many more were found. etc., and many valuable murals, some of which are one of the earliest in Bulgaria - from the VI century.