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Black Sea Coast: Nessebur and Bourgas - things to do


Around 510 AD Dorian settlers in the area turned it into a Greek colonial town, building a theatre and temple to the Greek god, Apollo, there. Khan Krum conquered the town in 812 AD, and the town was taken over by the Byzantines in 864 AD. The Slav name of ‘Nessebur’ (or sometimes ‘Messebar’) has been in use since the 1100’s.

During King Alexander I’s reign the town was one of the most important in the Bulgarian State. Evidence from official documents in Nessebur show that the town was given many donations with which to build monasteries and churches - it is believed that as many as 40 were built!

In 1366 Nessebur was back in the hands of the Byzantines again, after being captured by Amedei VI and his crusaders. The Turks took over control of Nessebur in 1371, and used it as a harbour for exporting corn and wood, and also for ship-building. Following Bulgaria’s Liberation, Nessebur became a small fishing town.

The town was given the status of an architectural and archaeological reserve in 1956, owing to the beautiful medieval Bulgarian and Byzantine architecture that exists there. The town is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Things to Do
If sun-bathing by the side of a clear blue sea is your thing, then Nessebur is surely one of the places to be. A lovely golden, sandy beach awaits you!

Pass through a gateway in the old town walls, and you are transported into Nessebur Old Town. The romantic atmosphere is preserved in the cobbled streets and old houses, interspersed with pretty gardens, taverns and gift shops (selling everything from wood carvings, paintings, pottery and more). The Old Town can get busy at times, so take some time out to relax and ‘people watch’ in any of the attractive restaurants either on the coast or in the town centre.

There are many churches to stop and take a look at in Nessebur. Here is a selection of some of them.

Old Bishop’s Residence - This could be considered the most impressive church in Nessebur with beautifully decorated colonnades and arches to marvel at. You can find this church in the centre of town.
St Stefan Church - Sometimes known as the ‘New Bishop’s Residence’, can be found near the harbour. The façade is covered by many-coloured glazed ceramic figures. This church was built in the 10th century.
St Ivan the Baptist Church - This church dates from the 11th century and contains fragments of frescoes which date back to the 13th century.
The Basilica - Built on the coast, this sanctuary is believed to date from the 5th century.
St John Aliturgetos Church - Whilst the Old Bishop’s Residence is considered the most impressive, this church is considered to be the most beautiful. Its location high above the harbour, and its impressive facades, make this church simply stunning.

However, there are also many lovely buildings and points of interest that are worth seeing too.
Ancient houses - These are built in a unique style dating from the 16-19th centuries. Of particular interest are the houses of Diamanti, Panayot Mouskoyani, and Captain Pavel. The craftsmanship that went into these buildings is truly something to be marvelled at.
Old Town Gate - Have a look at the remains of the fortress walls here. There are further examples down in the port area.
Turkish Baths and windmill are also ‘must sees’ in Nessebur.

There are lots of hotels to choose from - something for every pocket. In the Old Town you will find plenty of smaller hotels and guesthouses. Usually you can just turn up and find a room, but in high-season it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance.

Eating out in Nessebur can be somewhat pricier than some other spots along the coast, although the prices are generally higher in the coastal resorts than in-land towns and villages anyway. For eating and drinking you will probably be spoilt for choice as there is an abundance of authentic taverns and restaurants, with a wide range in prices too.