Bulgaria has quite a few tourist attractions to offer and Nessebar is one of the most important ones. The town is a located in the Bourgas region, at about 120 km south of Balchik. One aspect worth mentioning is the fact that the town is situated on a peninsula which measures 850 m in length and 350 m in width and that access to Nessebar is done through an isthmus.
The region undergoes constant change due to the fact that it is located at the seaside and the Black Sea enmeshes the land little by little. Just to understand the process, the peninsula had lost a third of its territory to the sea. In fact, the ruins of the ancient fortress are still visible under water at an 80 m distance from the shore.
The town dates back 3,000 years. The original settlement was dwelt by Thracians and bore the name Menebria/Mesembria. It is on the ruins of the ancient establishment that Nessebar was constructed. The town was an important port throughout the Turkish domination over the region and after it freed itself, it turned into a small fishing town.
In 1956, Nessebar was declared an architectural and archeological reservation. The town comprises a mixture of archeological styles: the ancient ruins of the fortified walls and gates date from the 3rd and 4th centuries, the churches from the 5th and 6th centuries, the cathedrals are from the medieval period (10th and 11th centuries), and the sixty houses were all built in the Renaissance period.
You can imagine the special tableau these differently constructed edifices create. Legend has it that throughout its existence, Nessebar has had more than forty churches. However, the historical data and archeological discoveries point solely to 26 of them.
Nessebar still bears the imprint of the ancient city and caries on the cultural legacy bestow upon it by the passage of time. The tourists who want to “go back in time” have only to visit the four museums available in Nessebar: the Archeology Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, St. Stephan Church (which has frescos from the 17th and 19th centuries) and the St. Spas Church where visitors can admire frescos from the 17th century.
All the cultures that have passed through this region have left their mark on Nessebar, but the beauty of it all is that these pieces from the past combine harmoniously to form a whole. But even so, it is still noticeable how the region underwent transformations due to the different developmental stages it passed through.
The architectural styles specific for the Balkan area as well as for the entire region east of the Mediterranean Sea are reflected in the edifices erected in Nessebar which combine elements from the medieval and ancient times as well as from the transit period from the Middle to the Late Bronze Period.
Religious motifs are also visible in the architectural design of the buildings. These date back from the medieval time, but some have been altered so as to comprise the Byzantine elements.
So if you are wondering what is it that you can visit in Nesebar, you should know that the list is long. You can see the ruins of ancient fortifications, houses of worship from Antiquity, churches from the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries), all encompassed within the boundaries of Nessebar. This goes to prove that the town is a living organism, having evolved in time but still bearing the traces of the past.
The Cultural Heritage Law impedes anyone from destroying the structure of the town, which means that constructions in the region are strictly forbidden if they taint the overall cultural ensemble. But even if this law was adopted, several interventions took place in the 19th century which were detrimental to this unique urbanization tableau.
More so, the measures adopted in order to bring stability to the seashore of the peninsula were also out of place. However, these had an important purpose and that was to hinder the Black Sea’s advancement towards the land.
Nessebar impresses through its authenticity. Nothing is changed in the architectural design of the edifices. Interventions are performed solely for maintenance and stabilization purposes. The architectural sites are opened for visitations and while this is good news for visitors it also has negative implications because the sites are prone to deterioration and this is conducted at a faster pace if they are used extensively for touristic purposes.
As long as specific conditions are imposed and the area is adequately prepared for tourists, the sites will be preserved better and visitors can appreciate them for a longer period of time.