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Ancient City of Nessebar*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

View of Nesebar's Old Town with the wooden houses, ancient ruins and churches and one of the town's symbols, the wooden windmill (to the left)
State Party  Bulgaria
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 217
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1983  (7th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Nesebar (pronounced [neˈsebər], Bulgarian: Несебър, Nesebar; other spellings include Nessebar and Nesebur) is an ancient city and a major seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, located in Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province. Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea" and "Bulgaria's Dubrovnik", Nesebar is a rich city-museum defined by more than three millennia of ever-changing history.

Map showing Nesebar's location in Bulgaria

It is a one of the most prominent tourist destinations and seaports on the Black Sea, in what has become a popular area with several large resorts—the largest, Sunny Beach, is situated immediately to the north of Nesebar.

Nesebar has on several occasions found itself on the frontier of a threatened empire, and as such it is a town with a rich history. The ancient part of the town is situated on a peninsula (previously an island) connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilisations over the course of its existence. Its abundance of historic buildings prompted UNESCO to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.

As of September 2005 Nesebar has a population of 10,194 and the mayor is Nikolay Trifonov. The town lies at 42°39′N 27°44′E / 42.65°N 27.733°E / 42.65; 27.733Coordinates: 42°39′N 27°44′E / 42.65°N 27.733°E / 42.65; 27.733.

Contents

Name

Inhabited in the Antiquity by the Thracians and the Ancient Greeks, the original Thracian settlement Menebria was renamed by the Ancient Greeks to Mesimvria (Ancient GreekΜεσήμβρια). During the Middle Ages the town was known as Mesembria (Bulgarian: Месемврия, Greek: Μεσέμβρια) to Bulgarians and Byzantines.

History

Summer Sunset in Nessebar
Fortifications at the entrance of Nesebar
Wooden houses on Nesebar's peninsula
Ruins of city walls

Originally a Thracian settlement known as Menebria, the town became a Greek colony when settled by Dorians from Megara at the beginning of the 6th century BC, and was an important trading centre from then on and a rival of Apollonia (Sozopol). It remained the only Doric colony along the Black Sea coast, as the rest were typical Ionic colonies. Remains from the Hellenistic period include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, and an agora. A wall which formed part of the fortifications can still be seen on the north side of the peninsula. Bronze and silver coins were minted in the city since the 5th century BC and gold coins since the 3rd century BC.

The town fell under Roman rule in 71 BC, yet continued to enjoy privileges such as the right to mint its own coinage. It was one of the most important strongholds of the Byzantine Empire from the 5th century AD onwards, and was fought over by Byzantines and Bulgarians, being captured and incorporated in the lands of the First Bulgarian Empire in 812 by Khan Krum after a two week siege only to be ceded back to Byzantium by Knyaz Boris I in 864 and reconquered by his son Tsar Simeon the Great. During the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire it was also contested by Bulgarian and Byzantine forces and enjoyed particular prosperity under Bulgarian tsar Ivan Alexander (1331–1371) until it was conquered by Crusaders led by Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy in 1366. The Bulgarian version of the name, Nesebar or Mesebar, has been attested since the 11th century.

Monuments from the Middle Ages include the 5–6th century Stara Mitropoliya ("old bishopric"; also St Sophia), a basilica without a transept; the 10th century church of the Virgin; and the 11th century Nova Mitropoliya ("new bishopric"; also St Stephen) which continued to be embellished until the 18th century. In the 13th and 14th century a remarkable series of churches were built: St Theodore, St Paraskeva, St Michael St Gabriel, and St John Aliturgetos.

The capture of the town by the Turks in 1453 marked the start of its decline, but its architectural heritage remained and was enriched in the 19th century by the construction of wooden houses in style typical for the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast during this period. It was a kaza centre in İslimye sanjak of Edirne Province before 1878[1]. After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, Nesebar became part of the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia as a kaza centre in Burgaz sanjak until it united with the Principality of Bulgaria in 1886.

Around the end of the 19th century Nesebar was a small town of Greek fishermen and vinegrowers, but developed as a key Bulgarian seaside resort since the beginning of the 20th century. After 1925 a new town part was built and the historic Old Town was restored.

Churches

Nesebar is sometimes said to be the town with the highest number of churches per capita.[1], [2] Although this might be wrong, their number and variety is still impressive. Some of the most famous include:

Whether built during the Byzantine, Bulgarian or Ottoman rule of the city, the churches of Nesebar represent the rich architectural heritage of the Eastern Orthodox world and illustrate the gradual development from Early Christian basilicas to medieval cross-domed churches.

A panoramic view of the ancient part of Nesebar

Honour

Nesebar Gap on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Nesebar.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ http://acikarsiv.ankara.edu.tr/fulltext/3066.pdf

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Nessebur is a city in Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast. The central ancient town is full of medieval churches, and is quite beautiful. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There seemed to be lots of tourists there (from the beach resort on the outskirts), tour guides and local goods for sale. The resort on the outskirts, Sunny Beach, looked pretty tacky to me.

Get in

There are regular local buses from surrounding resorts into Nesebar. If you are on a package holiday in one of the nearby resorts, the rep may try to sell you an excursion to Nesebar on the basis that local buses are unreliable, confusing and expensive; ignore them. You can get buses to Nesebar that are clearly marked in English from numerous bus stops along the main road, and they only cost a few stotinkis.

You can also get a tourist boat from Sunny Beach to Nesebar; this is more expensive and less frequent that the buses.

Get around

Roads in and around the old town of Nesebar are quite narrow and cobbled. It is probably wise to park just outside of the town and go by foot. The cobblestones does make wheelchair access quite difficult but some streets have smoother surfaces.

See

A huge part of the ancient city of Messembria (the old city of Nesebar, located on the ex-island) has sunk under water. When counting the numerous sunken ones, Nesebar becomes the city with most churches per capita in Bulgaria.

Do

The main things to do in Nesebar are to wander around the cobbled streets and visit the churches.

Buy

There are numerous shops and stalls selling souvenirs in Nesebar. Most of their stuff is cheap tourist tat, but you can pick up locally produced lace too.

Eat

There are loads of restaurants in Nesebar, with a high proportion employing touts to encourage tourists into their premises. These are likely to be more expensive that most restaurants in Bulgaria, and not very good quality. The Tequila Bar is often recommended though.

Sleep

Much of the accommodation around Nesebar is in Sunny Beach, a massive tourist resort to the north of the town.

Useful Links

Nesebar photo guide [1]- in English [[2]] An amazing Quad Bike safari 40 minutes drive from Nesebar.

Get out

There are regular buses to:

Sunny Beach
Bourgas - the second biggest city on Bulgaria's coast
Varna

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