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in Bulgarian: Несебър , also known as: Nesebar, Nessebur, Nesebur
Nessebar is situated on a small peninsula built from rocks and linked with the mainland by a narrow 400 m long isthmus. The narrow streets crossing each other in a labyrinth, the beautiful wooden houses from the Revival period, the unique churches standing at every corner from the individuality of the Old town of Nessebar.
The island-museum is only 300 m wide, 850 m long, but it keeps precise landmarks from all the ages of the culture. A romantic haven for fishermen, artists and lovers of beauty.
This is a unique natural configuration for the whole European coastline. A port in Thracian times, at the end of the 6th century B.C. the Dorian Greeks turned it into a lively trade center while preserving its Thracian name of Mesambria. Some of the finest achievements of mediaeval church architecture are preserved here.
The ancient fortress wall, the town's churches with splendid appearance and over 60 National Revival period houses characterize the town of Nessebar as one of Bulgaria's oldest and most picturesque landmarks. The town has preserved so remarkable churches that they were announced as monuments of exceptional quality.
Nessebar is located only 3 km away from Sunny Beach – Bulgaria’s most luxurious and most popular Black Sea resorts. The municipality of Nessebar includes 6 resorts – Nessebar, Sunny Beach, Obzor, Elenite, St Vlas and Ravda. Combined, these resorts offer accommodation for around 300,000 tourists and have around 1000 restaurants; this makes the municipality of Nessebar the biggest tourist conglomeration in Bulgaria. The closest big city with an international airport is Bourgas – 20 km away.
It is believed that Nessebar’s beach is second to none in Bulgaria; a big part of it is sand dunes. Everything is developed in Nessebar in terms of tourist conveniences: lodging and accommodation, dining services, bar services and nightlife, cultural sightseeing. Of course there are many hotels in town but the private houses are again both the most deluxe.
There are conditions for the whole range of water sports as well: water skiing, ski jumping, jet skiing, yachting, windsurfing, scuba diving, etc.
There are numerous discoveries dating from the Bronze Age, testifying this city-museum’s more than three millennia history. A large part of the ancient town has been irreversibly destroyed - the originally some 40 ha large peninsula is a mere 24 ha today. Dating back to the 12th-6th century B.C. are a gate and the now submerged remains of the town's former fortifications. Other remains include the ruins of fortress walls and carved limestone towers, archaeological remnants of the agora in the center, of the acropolis, of an ancient temple, of the peristyle and of several dwellings. Unaffected by Roman rule, the town existed independently before it became part of Byzantium, together with the entire Balkan Peninsula. In the year 71 B.C.
Nessebar was taken under Roman influence and it was not until the year 395 when the town fell under Byzantine domination (most probably resulting from the death of Emperor Theodosus. In 812 Khan Krum lead e two weeks battle to capture the town back to Bulgaria.
The most important monument surviving from Byzantine times is the St. Sophia basilica, also known as the Old Metropolitan (rising in the place of an ancient agora).
Within the boundaries of the Bulgarian state during the 13th and 14th century, when the country was at its strongest both politically and economically, experiencing a cultural upsurge, Nessebar was a town of 40 churches (built during the 11th to 14th century), some of them so remarkable to be announced for monuments of exceptional quality.
Preserved until the present of these are: the New Metropolitan - St. Stefan, St. John the Baptist, St. Todor, St. Paraskeva, Chtist Pantocrator, St. John Aliturgetos, and the Sts. Arcangels Michael and Gabriel church. The New Metropolitan or St. Stefan (11th c.) is one of the last representatives of basilicas in medieval Bulgaria with perfectly preserved murals dated 1593 and 1599. Some of the compositions are influenced by Italian painting but maritime themes and subjects are nevertheless characteristic. St. John the Baptist (10th-11th c.) represents the transition between a basilica and a cross-domed church.
Christ Pantocrator is one of the best preserved medieval churches in Bulgaria. The exterior facades are decorated with colourful ceramics depicting different motifs. Similar in shape but with richer decoration and sculptures is the St. John Aliturgetos church. Its facades are intricately broken by pilasters and arches, with rhythmically alternating white stone and red bricks.
The Sts. Archangels church has extremely picturesque facades with two rows of decorative blind arches, the upper row being broken by large semi-circular gables.
On the whole, the mediaeval Nessebar churches are characterized by intricate decorative elements and combinations of stone and bricks, by immured glazed ceramic discs and four-leaved rosettes. Niches, consoles and arcades also break the facades. The houses, which lend their peculiar 19th century air to present-day Nessebar, were built during the Bulgarian National revival Period.
The typical 18th-19th century Nessebar house has small yards facing the street, which is demarcated by the walls of the lower floors and fences. A wooden staircase leads up to the second floor, which is lightly structured and completely faced with wood. The overhanging roof eaves serve to optically narrow the streets still further. The central living quarters are occupied by the parlour from which numerous doors lead to the remaining rooms. Wooden ceilings and whitewashed walls characterize the interior. The upper-floor windows are wide; those on the ground floor are narrow and few in number. The Ivan Markov, Pipcherkov, Capt. Pavel, Bogotov, Zhelyu Bogdanov, Lambrinov, Toulev, Diamandiev, Hadjitraev, Hristo Kochev and Mouskoyani houses are all worth seeing.
Captain's house - built in the style of the Bulgarian National Revival, situated on the high stone coast above the port. The elevated stone basement is occupied by store rooms on two levels. On the floor above there are a T-shaped parlour and 4 spacious rooms in the corners, which open on the facade. A relief badge of the guild is inbuilt on the southern wall.
Mouskoyani house - follows almost the same inner design as the Captain's house. The parlour has an abundantly decorated ceiling, adorned with a round rosette. An ethnographical exposition has been arranged in the house.
Nessebar's intransient value and its centuries-old cultural wealth have gained due recognition with its inclusion in the List of World Cultural Heritage in 1983.
Nessebar is unique, antique, picturesque, romantic, generously gifted by nature. It is paradise on Earth, a must-see on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.