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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov


Updated: May 23, 2022

Nessebar is one of the most ancient cities not only in Bulgaria, but even in the whole of Europe, founded more than 3200 years ago, and is extremely beautiful!

The old city windmill

The mill is located in the middle of the isthmus connecting the peninsula, and today is only a tourist attraction and a symbol of the city.

The ancient town of Messambria Pontica was located on the peninsula of today's Nessebar. Later in the Middle Ages it was called Messambria.

Messambria has two convenient ports - south and north, where to this day are many remains of ancient vessels.

An interesting fact is that the legendary author of fables Aesop was born in Messambria around 620 BC and is of Thracian origin.

At the end of the 6th century BC, the first Hellenic settlers arrived - of Dorian origin.

View from Nessebar to Cape Emine

The city is gradually growing, with temples, a school and a theater gradually being built. It is surrounded by a massive fortress wall.

"Assumption" or "Holy Mother of God" is a Renaissance Orthodox church built in 1873

In 72 BC the city was conquered by the Romans. Mesemvria, as it was then called, with its intact fortress walls and large public buildings, remains an important commercial and cultural center on the Black Sea coast of Roman Thrace.

After the relocation of the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople and the adoption of Christianity as the official religion, favorable conditions were created for the revival of the Black Sea cities.

In Mesemvria, new Christian temples are being built - basilicas, fortress walls, a new water supply system and city baths are being built. All this is done by leading architects and builders of the empire, similar to the capital's prototypes. The central church of Mesembria is named after St. Sophia.

St. Sophia, known as the Old Metropolis, is part of the city's architectural and historical reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is located on the supposed old town center.

It is a three-nave basilica with a semicircular apse, which is three-walled on the outside, with a narthex and an atrium (courtyard). The side naves are separated from the central one by stone-built rectangular pillars connected by brick arches. A second arcade steps above them. On the east wall above the apse are three arched windows. The basilica had a gabled roof, which has not been preserved. The syntron is almost completely preserved in the apse. Inside the church was plastered with mortar and frescoed. The whole floor was covered with a mosaic of small multicolored stones. To the right of the apse is a built-in marble block, on which is engraved a verse from an Old Testament psalm, and the fallen plaster reveals a penetrating cry to future generations: "And let my cry reach you!"

The basilica was built immediately after the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when the Thracian diocese came under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The building was destroyed by the Avars in the VI century and rebuilt in the early VII century.

It acquired its current appearance after reconstruction in the early ninth century.

In the Middle Ages the church was a cathedral of the Diocese of Mesembria.

Towards the end of the 18th century it was abandoned.

The city first became part of the Bulgarian state in 812, when Khan Krum stormed and conquered it and Slavs and Bulgarians settled here.

"St. Paraskeva" is an Orthodox church and part of the architectural and historical reserve in the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"St. Paraskeva" is a single-nave basilica dating from the XIII-XIV century with a characteristic narthex and altar apse. To the east it ends with a five-walled apse. It is built of cut stone and bricks, in alternating belts.

The decoration on its facade is in ceramic style. Along the northern and southern facades passes a number of blind arches, whose tympani are richly ornamented. The motives - herringbone, sun, zigzag, chess and more. - are made of stone and brick. Above them in belts develops a decorative decoration of four-leafed and round glazed bowls, built into the wall itself.

The modern roof is gabled - a legacy of later centuries. The church developed in height as a typical cross-domed building - a cross expressed in the roof and above it - in the center - a drum with a dome. Above the narthex rose a bell tower, as evidenced by the stone staircase built into the wall separating the nave from the narthex. Its roof structure has not been preserved. It is believed to have been a dome. There was probably a bell tower above the narthex.

Its current roof was built later.

In the 12th and 13th centuries the city developed active trade relations with the lands of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, as well as with the principalities north of the Danube.

The churches "St. Stephen" (XI century) and "St. John the Baptist" (XI century) were built and frescoed - they became the prototype of the later built Nessebar masterpieces from the XIII - XIV century.

For 62 years, from 1201 to 1263, Nessebar, like other Black Sea cities south of the Balkans, was permanently included in the Bulgarian state.

Night panorama from Nessebar to Sunny Beach

After almost 40 years of Byzantine rule, Nessebar re-entered the Bulgarian state in 1304 during the reign of Tsar Theodore Svetoslav.

The city flourished during the reign of Tsar Ivan Alexander.

View of the old town windmill from Saint Vlas

View from Nessebar to Saint Vlas
View from Nessebar to Sunny Beach

During the years of Ottoman rule, economic and cultural life did not end. Churches were built, icons were painted. Paisii Hilendarski mentions the town in 1762 in his "Slavo-Bulgarian History", calling it Zamoria.

The old town, seen from Saint Vlas
St. Sophia, known as the Old Metropolis

Many houses from the Renaissance period have been preserved - typical representatives of the Black Sea architecture, as well as many windmills, public baths and fountains.

Mesemvria was renamed Nessebar in 1930.

Nessebar was declared an architectural and archeological reserve in 1956, and in 1983 the city's cultural monuments were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Night panorama from Nessebar to Sunny Beach

How to get to Nessebar?

I wish you an exceptional and impressive walk!

And as an ending,

my dear friends

following this link,

do not miss out

to feel and taste the full album with photo moments -

found out, experienced, photographed and shared with you!


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