Situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea, the more than 3,000-year-old site of Nessebar was originally a Thracian settlement (Menebria). At the beginning of the 6th century BC, the city became a Greek colony. The city’s remains, which date mostly from the Hellenistic period, include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora and a wall from the Thracian fortifications. Among other monuments, the Stara Mitropolia Basilica and the fortress date from the Middle Ages, when this was one of the most important Byzantine towns on the west coast of the Black Sea. Wooden houses built in the 19th century are typical of the Black Sea architecture of the period.
Pearl of the Black Sea
Dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’, Nessebar is a Balkan beauty spot with a spectacular old town poking out from its coastline. Over 3,000 years of civilisation have left their mark here, from the Romans to the Ottomans. But you won’t just find ancient history. It’s a bubbling beach town, too. Its seafront has a row of modern hotels stretching out in front of a pristine beach.
New Nessebar Beach is a Black Sea favourite. It’s a 2.5-kilometre arc of fine shingle backed by a long promenade. Awarded a prestigious Blue Flag award, it has firm family credentials, with gently deepening waters, a roll call of watersports, plus restaurants and bars on tap. For something more secluded, try the beach on the north side of town, where you’ll find a swathe of soft golden sand, backed by rolling dunes. It eventually leads to Sunny Beach, Bulgaria’s biggest – and loudest – resort. It, too, has Blue Flag status.
The old town
Connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, Nessebar’s old town is on a small, lozenge-shaped peninsula. It crams in 44 churches, plenty of Roman ruins, traditional Bulgarian houses, not to mention an Archaeological Museum and an Ethnological Museum. It’s little wonder UNESCO made it a World Heritage Site. But if you’re all cultured out, there’s a harbour filled with seafood restaurants on the west side of the islet.
Tourists can get more information about the history and the development of the town at the Archaeological Museum which is located at the very beginning of the peninsula. It exhibits finds discovered during archaeological excavations. The traces of past historical periods are everywhere. Part of the fortification wall can be seen in the Old Town. It was declared an architectural-construction monument of culture of national importance by virtue of publication in State Gazette, issue No 41 of 1964. A number of churches have been preserved and two of them – St. Spas Church and S. Stefan Church, have been transformed into museums.
Many of the houses in the Old Town were built during the Bulgarian Revival Period (18th – 19th centuries). The architectural design of Moskoyani House, where the exhibition of the Ethnographic Museum of Nesebar is housed, is interesting. Visitors can learn many things about the life and the culture of the people of Nesebar. Various everyday objects and traditional costumes are displayed there.