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Nesebar, Old Town

Description

The ancient city of Nessebar is located on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Black Sea and is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria. 

The small peninsula is connected to the mainland by an artificial isthmus, which translated from ancient Greek means "a narrow strip of land connecting two parts".

If you walk down the narrow isthmus, you can see that it will be a wonderful day trip. As you cross the narrow strip of land, a wooden windmill welcomes you to this ancient town hidden behind the remains of the walls of a Roman fortress.Often called the 'Jewel of the Black Sea', ancient Nessebar is over 3000 years old and was once a Thracian settlement known as Mesembria. 

In the early 6th century, the town became a Greek colony and has since been an important trade route, competing with present-day Sozopol. In the Middle Ages, it became a very important city under Byzantine rule. After the conquest by the Turks in 1453, the city's importance began to decline, although a mixture of the city's history remained, reflected in the different styles of the churches on the peninsula.

By the end of the 19th century, the town was mainly inhabited by Greek fishermen and wine growers. The town remained a relatively empty place with few inhabitants, and in 1925 a new part of the town, known as "New Nessebar", was built to accommodate the ever-growing population. Since then, the old town has been carefully restored and preserved.

What attracts most tourists here are undoubtedly the picturesque 19th-century wooden houses, typical of this region on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, in a style similar to that of Plovdiv, with the upper floors continuing above the lower ones. This architectural style, known as National Revival, dates back to the time when Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878.

Endless winding cobblestone streets lead you through the most charming alleys, where you might discover a hidden beach bar or a stray cat hiding under a bush of red roses. Strolling around, you get a sense of romance and history and can even imagine what life was like here centuries ago. As it was our honeymoon after all, we strolled down a random street away from the tourists and eventually found absolute peace and some palm trees that made me feel right at home!

Now that the communist roots have been removed, tourists are flocking in, and so you find one tourist shop after another. Each of them offers a glimpse of the abundance of handmade goods, perhaps even leather or fur coats, a style popular in Eastern Europe. Still, the quaintness of old Nessebar did not embarrass me.

Legend has it that there were once about forty churches on this small peninsula, but today there are only 23. The town is a museum town, and any church or ruin can be entered and visited. If you have the time and interest to visit all the churches, consider buying a package. We thought it would be a good idea to visit all the churches from the outside.

Of particular interest is Christ Pantocrator Church in the centre of the city, whose exterior façade is unlike anything we have seen before. It consists of a series of empty arches built alternately of brick and stone, and is typical of the 13th and 14th centuries. You can also see decorative swastika motifs in red brick, dating back thousands of years before Nazism! It is simply a symbol of an ancient sun cult.Of all the ruins, Hagia Sophia with its curved 5th century brick columns is perhaps the most impressive. Century. Used as a cathedral in the Middle Ages, it was later sacked by the Venetians and many religious relics were removed, and the basilica was finally rebuilt in the 18th century. 

A small, dilapidated makeshift jetty juts out from the peninsula where locals fish. 

.As the small peninsula is quite touristy, there are naturally a lot of tourists, so there is a wide choice of restaurants and cocktail bars. The locals will try to lure you into their restaurants, especially those that don't look out to sea and are tucked away in an alley.

However, we deliberately chose a panoramic restaurant with delicious cuisine: Flagman.

As this is a coastal town, you can expect lots of fish, crab and lobster as main courses, and there are also non-fish options.

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Nesebar, Old Town

Nesebar, Old Town

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