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Exploring Obzor and its Environs

Obzor is a small town, which lies on a bay in the middle of the Black Sea coast offers some of the best beaches in Bulgaria. There are water sports galore from jet skiing to parasailing and for those seeking relaxation there are plenty of beach-based massage tables, cafes and lively hotels on the front, whilst towards the end of the beach there is a lovely park with fountains, waterfalls, bridges and palm trees. During the summer season there are a variety of cultural and music festivals where famous Bulgarian actors participate. One of the highlights of the season occurs at the beginning of August with the “Rockers Get-Together,” a music festival and biker meet, where hundreds of motorcyclists from all over the country gather together.

Within the town, there is a pleasant square surrounded by restaurants and shops. The square is marked out with an impressive new clock tower and just off the square there is a quaint little church. Many of the town’s archeological finds are displayed in the small park close to the square; there are some remarkable Roman columns and the remains of statues many of which came from the ancient Temple of Jupiter, which was once the town’s centrepiece. To the west of the town lie the remains of the medieval Bulgarian fortress Kozyak.

The town of Byala, which once hosted an ancient Greek fortress called Aspro, is situated a few kilometers to the north of Obzor. Another good reason to visit Byala is the Polychronoff Winery. It lies on a bend in the road on the outskirts of the town and is easily recognisable by its bold, red lettering, publicising its “Wine Test.” At first sight it looks nothing like a vineyard, but venture inside and the owner Petko Polychronoff will give you a tour of his family business including the vaults where the wine is stored. For around 14 Leva you can taste a sample of all of the wines he produces and purchase bottles to take home with you. The tasting is accompanied by homemade Bulgarian bread called pitka and local cheese.
Further north, the Kamchiya River meets the sea and is home to many archaeological finds. Many amateur treasure hunters come here in search of fragments of pottery and coins from days gone by. Another attraction in this area is the Kamchiya Nature Reserve, which is predominantly marshland and home to a wide variety of birds. During the summer season you can take a boat trip from the mouth of the river upstream and see the wildlife at close quarters.

The village of Emona and the renowned Emine Cape lies a few kilometers to the south of Obzor. Emona is a picturesque neighborhood, famed as the birthplace of the Thracian King Rez, who was mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as being killed by Odysseus and Diomedus. Cape Emine overlooks the Bay of Nessebar and is Bulgaria's stormiest peninsula. You can see the lighthouse, the monastery and the ruins of a medieval fortress.

South of Emona is Bulgaria’s largest beach resort, Sunny Beach; this is far more commercialized than Obzor and lies close to the historic city of Nessebar. Sunny Beach offers a wide variety of entertainment suitable for visitors of all tastes and ages. It is renowned for its lively nightlife, abundant family entertainment and prestigious 8 km of Blue Flag beaches. Nessebar is a UNESCO, world heritage site. 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 B.C., 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.

Nessebar is full of historic nineteenth century Revival architecture and medieval churches. It is a quaint cobble stoned town with many small winding alleys, which used to be a thriving Greek and Roman port and was one of the last places to be ruled by the ailing Byzantine Empire. Noteworthy sites include the wooden windmill and the Archaeological Museum, which contains a vast collection of relics ranging from statues of various gods to gold jewellery including some delicately crafted earrings decorated with lion’s heads. The ancient churches pay homage to a range of eras from Byzantine to early Bulgarian. The Church of Christ Pantokrator is noted for its colourful exterior decoration, whilst the Church of St John the Baptist is puritanical in design. The Church of the Saviour houses a spectacular collection of frescoes and the Church of Sveta Bogorodista houses a remarkable collection of religious icons dating back to the 17th century.

Obzor pictures courtesy of David Phelps