Abkhazia: Anacopia Fortress
Updated: Feb 16
By: The PH Team
Abkhazia is an unrecognized country in the Caucasus region, internationally recognized as part of Georgia. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the region of Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia on the grounds that the region's historical ethnic majority deserved its own State.
Although only a small strip of land, the unrecognized country is home to immense and important history of the region.
Anacopia Fortress is an ancient military citadel in New Athos, Abkhazia. It is the most complete surviving building of ancient Anacopia, the former capital of the Kingdom of Abkhazia.
A military structure was constructed between the second and fourth centuries. At the end of the seventh century walls were constructed around the site of the citadel because of the fear of the expansion of Islam into Abkhazia.
There is a single entrance to the compound, at in the centre of the fortress is a Roman style tower, four storeys high, with breathtaking views views in all directions across the surrounding landscape of Abkhazia, and of course, of the Black Sea as well.
A small Christian basilica was also constructed in the centre of the fortress during or before the eighth century. Next to the Church is a cistern filled naturally with spring water.
During the eighth century, Anacopia found itself near the frontier that separated Byzantine Christendom from the Umayyad Caliphate.
As such, in 736 - 737, the Umayyads appeared outside the walls with a force of 60,000 men and laid siege to what was the capital of the Abkhazian Kingdom and today, lies within the borders of the unrecognized country of Abkhazia.
The citadel was allegedly defended by a local force of 1,000 Iberians and 2,000 Abkhazians under the leadership of Leon I of Abkhazia.
History recalls, that the Arab forces suffered from an epidemic that killed 35,000 people while a further 3,000 were killed in the fighting in Anacopia. The successful defence of Anacopia is regarded as a pivotal turning point and an extremely important event in both Abkhazia's and the region's history.
In preparation for foreign tourists, the complex has undergone renovations in recent years and is open for curious tourists to come and see the rich history of the site and of the region.
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