Archaeologists believe that the history of the Bulgarian Nessebar began more than three thousand years ago, when the Bronze Age was replaced by the Iron Age. The Thracian settlement founded in these places was called Menebria. Then the Greeks came here, and the city turned into a center of trade routes. Since then, the remains of the Acropolis and agora have been preserved in Nessebar. Next came the time of the ancient Romans, Byzantium, the Bulgarian kingdom and the militant Ottoman Empire. All the historical upheavals left a significant mark on urban architecture, and modern tourists arriving in Bulgaria for a beach holiday will always find something to see. Nessebar has preserved many ancient temples, the earliest of which date from the 4th-10th centuries. The defensive system of the city was built in early Byzantine times and the power of the fortress walls that remained from that time is still able to impress a traveler who is interested in ancient architecture. Do not forget the natural attractions of Nessebar, which is rightfully considered the pearl of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Western Fortress Wall
The city walls of Nessebar served to defend the city from enemy invasions. The first fortifications were built in the VIII-VI centuries. BC, when the territory of modern Bulgaria was part of Thrace. Construction resumed in the IV-III centuries. BC, and the last sections were built already in the V-VI centuries:
- The southern and northern sections of the fortress wall went into the sea and served the defense of urban marinas. Today their ruins are under water.
- The entrance to the city was closed by two gates, on the sides of which stood pentagonal towers.
- The western wall, built on land, has survived to this day. You can see a hundred-meter-long section and the ruins of watch towers of 8-meter height.
The walls are located in the old part of the city on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus.
Church of St. Sophia
Many old Christian basilicas built in the early Middle Ages have survived in old Nessebar. The oldest church, the church of St. Sophia, was founded at the end of the 5th century. It was built after the collapse of the Roman Empire, when the Balkans were part of Byzantium. The basilica is called the Old Metropolis. Until the V century. at this place was the urban agora.
The most valuable monument of the Byzantine era is a three-nave basilica. Its length is 19 m, width - 13 m. Each nave is separated from the others by two rows of pillars. The central nave ends with an apse round from the inside, while the dome has a trihedral shape from the outside.
On one of the walls of the basilica, an old marble tablet with a bible verse has been preserved. There is a legend that a wish made near a temple will certainly come true.
Church of St. Stephen
In the 11th century, Nessebar became the new Metropolis. Church of St. Stephen. Within its walls, you can look at the unique murals of the 16th-18th centuries depicting scenes from scripture. The ceiling and walls of the basilica have more than 1000 images and 250 compositions that tell about the life of the Savior and the Virgin Mary. Artists captured the miraculous deeds of Jesus, the stages of his life and his disciples. Scientists came to the conclusion that the temple was painted by three artists, as the manner of writing is different. The most significant fresco in the church is The Last Judgment, which dates from the 18th century.
Initially, the temple was dedicated to the Virgin and only then renamed the Cathedral of St. Stephen. It was built of stone blocks according to the design of the three-nave basilica, traditional for that era. The size of the temple is 12x10 m.
The Church of St. Stephen is called one of the most significant architectural attractions of Nessebar and the whole of Bulgaria. The frescoes, iconostasis and architectural appearance of the temple have reached us in almost unchanged form.
Address: st. Ribarska, 117, Staria Grad.
Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel
Another basilica from the time of the Byzantine Empire in Nessebar is of undoubted interest for lovers of history and architecture. The Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel was built in the 13th century. in the old town, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The structure was a one-nave basilica with an annexe in front of the entrance, crowned with a dome. Nearby was the bell tower. Two entrances led to the narthex - the north and the south. The facade of the basilica was decorated with vaulted arches, made of brick and machined stone.
Unfortunately, the church has not been preserved in its ideal form to this day, but when visiting this landmark of Nessebar, you can look at the stone niches and the remains of the dome skillfully laid on the facades and imagine the former grandeur of the temple, built in honor of the main messengers of divine revelations.
Church of Christ Pantocrator
Bulgarian Nessebar is not in vain called the city of forty churches. In its old part you can look at another magnificent temple, built in the XIV century. and called one of the most significant in the history of the city.
The building, made in the Byzantine style, together with a chapel and altar niches, has a length of 16 m and a width of more than six. Part of the building on the plan looks like a cross. On the roof of the church is an octagonal tower with a semicircular dome. The facades are decorated with semi-blind niches in the form of arches. Lightness and elegance of the dome arches give built-in arched windows. The interior of the temple is lit by natural light penetrating through the windows on the southern and northern facades.
Temple frescoes have not been preserved much, but still on the walls and ceiling of the church you can see the remaining fragments of the once rich mural. The church is dedicated to the central image of the Savior in iconography. Pantocrator - this is the Almighty Savior, depicted on the icons and frescoes in growth or sitting on the throne and symbolizing the Heavenly King and Judge.
Church of St. John the Baptist
A striking example of Greek-Slavic architectural traditions, the Church of St. John the Baptist was built in the 10th century. When erecting the church, ancient masters used river stone and uncouth blocks carved from rock. The basis of the foundation is rubble stone, extracted from sandstone and having high strength and moisture resistance. This material allowed the building to survive centuries, and the temple has been well preserved to this day.
The Church of St. John the Baptist has the shape of a cross on the plan. It is crowned by a small round tower with a hemispherical dome. Three altar niches merge on the ceiling into cylindrical arches, connecting to the middle arch. Wall paintings almost did not survive, but a fresco depicting St. Marina on the western column has survived to this day. It is dated to the XVII century.
Address: st. Metropolitan
Church of St. John Aliturgitos
Among other religious buildings that have been preserved in Nessebar since the Middle Ages, this church stands out. In the name of the temple there is a word meaning "without the liturgy." According to legend, during the construction of the church a worker died, and the church did not go through the process of consecration.
It was erected in the XIV century. next to the medieval port of Nessebar. The once majestic building of red brick and machined stone blocks was decorated with ceramic decorations and murals. The church greeted seafarers calling at the port in merchant and warships, and served as a place for them to offer prayers for health and good sailing.
In 1913 the temple was destroyed by a strong earthquake and today there is little left of its former splendor. But even in ruins, you can see ancient murals on the western wall. An unknown master of fresco painting depicted ships calling at the port. Fragments of the mosaic floor are also preserved, and you can enter the temple through the northern and southern gates.
Having enjoyed the World Heritage Sites in Nessebar, to see thousands of tourists coming to the city, you can go towards active entertainment. One of the favorite city attractions where it is nice to spend a summer day with the whole family is Water Paradise.
One of the largest entertainment projects of this kind in the Balkans, “Water Paradise” offers visitors a lot of fascinating attractions:
- Water slides Kamikaze and Space Jam, each 22 meters high, are champions among the attractions of Bulgaria.
- The 13-meter “tsunami” is capable of giving an unforgettable experience to the brave souls who conquered it.
- Rafting-descent 146 m long is the most ambitious in the country's water parks.
- Recreation area for kids with a fairytale castle and cozy "paddling pools".
- A secluded island paradise with massages, a jacuzzi and the best Mediterranean cocktails.
The huge selection of shows that are worth visiting in the water park of Nessebar impresses even experienced tourists. You have a chance to visit a pirate ship, the Wild West and a rock concert.
Open from 10 to 18.30.
Ticket price: from 8 euros.
Upon entering the territory of the Old Town, you will see the building of the Archaeological Museum, which contains historical exhibits and ancient artifacts. The museum opened in 1994 and has become one of the popular attractions of Nessebar among foreign guests.
Four halls present collections of objects found during archaeological excavations and historical scientific research. You can see the ancient anchors used by medieval shipbuilders, and pottery dating from the Bronze Age. Marble sculptures and silver coins, gold jewelry and stone bas-reliefs, ancient Greek amphoras and stone tools are just a fraction of all the treasures presented in the Archaeological Museum.
Address: st. Messembria, 2, Staria Grad.
Open: from 9 to 20 on weekdays, from 9 to 18 - on Sat and vskr.
A little northeast of Nessebar is located the most beautiful natural attraction of Bulgaria - Cape Emine. A sheer cliff, 60 meters above the Black Sea, has long been considered especially dangerous for shipping. A lighthouse was built on the top of Emine, and the ships bypass this place so as not to crash against the underwater cliffs. But the views from the cliff are very picturesque, and excursions to Cape Emine are very popular with tourists in Nessebar.