Nesebar

WORLD HERITAGE

Nesebar has been declared an architectural and archeological reserve in 1956, and in 1983 the cultural monuments of the town have been added to the UNESCO world cultural heritage list.


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T he Old Nesebar – a small piece of land where each centimeter is a piece of history. A crossroad of ancient civilizations. A town with unique beauty and spiritual wealth, preserving pieces of time – a puzzle of stories, carefully preserved through the centuries. A walk through the streets of the Old Nesebar is a trip in a different world where the past exists alongside the present and reaches for the future. Here time doesn’t age, it doesn’t pass – it whispers its tale and demonstrates its beauty. Here time lives in the hearts and homes of people like nowhere else. Old houses from the Revival period peek out along the narrow and picturesque cobblestone streets, hidden behind tall stone wall; they are one of the most recognizable symbols of Nesebar. More than 40 churches used to watch over this eternal town in the past. Nesebar is still called the “town of churches”.

A patchwork of various cultures – Nesebar is all that. Located on a small 850 meters long and 350 meters wide peninsula, Nesebar – one of the most ancient towns in Europe was established more than 3200 years ago. Connected to the land by a narrow neck, Mesambria in antiquity, Mesemvria in the Middle Ages and Nesebar nowadays is named by the ancient Thracians. It is named after the founder of the town, the name meaning “town of Melsas” in Thracian language.

T he first Greek settlers were attracted to these lands in the end of VI c. B.C. The commercial town that has been established developed rapidly, coins were minted, temples and fortification walls were built, and residence areas were established. Its location allowed the town to maintain commercial relations with the towns on the coasts of Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

T he Roman armies conquered the town in 72 B. C. In the beginning of 1st century Mesemvria became part of the Roman Empire. After converting to Christianity, the construction of basilicas, new water supply system and town baths commenced on town territory.

B ulgarians and Slavic peoples settled in 812 after a siege of Khan Krum who conquered Nesebar and made it a part of the Bulgarian state for the first time.

B yzantines passed through the lands of Nesebar, it fell under Ottoman rule, as well. Even during the dark centuries of Ottoman sway commercial and spiritual life did not cease, the harbor remained a strong point and a centre of Black Sea coast import and export. After the Liberation during the Revival period the town specialized in viticulture, fishing and flax production. After the appearance of Sunny Beach resort in 1959 Nesebar became significantly livelier and life standard of its inhabitants improved. From that moment on Nesebar and the entire Bulgarian economic faced a new horizon – international tourism.

E very culture has left something behind, enriching the land, charging it with energy and history. Every stone is a piece of history in Nesebar and every cobblestone has a tale to tell.

D ue to the combination of Nesebar rich cultural heritage, preserved cultural monuments of different epochs and beautiful nature in 1983 the Old Nesebar was included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage list. This recognition brought pride not only to the locals, but to the entire Bulgarian nation.

History Accommodation

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Nesebar is not just a town; it’s a crossroad of cultures.

N esebar cultural significance is exclusive not only within the borders of Bulgaria, it goes beyond the national borders; it is an important part of the history of humanity. Stories dating back to the first steps of Christianity on our lands are hidden in the Old Nesebar, it preserves church architecture of the Middle Ages and the Revival spirit of Bulgarian home – all that on a rocky peninsula with high seashores. A walk along the seashore alley today shows us the towering temples, accentuating among the Revival houses, clad in wood, resistant to the humid climate, strong winter winds and hot summer sun. Together with site material remains Old Nesebar preserves values appertaining to intangible heritage. Such as urban legends, traditions and customs, fishing as a traditional occupation, local cuisine specialties, and crafts like net knitting, etc.

As a living town – one of a kind under the auspices of UNESCO in Bulgaria, Nesebar may also be proud of its urban culture, its artists and musicians, its creative spirit and desire for the new and modern to coexist with the ancient.

Festivals in Nesebar
I t is not accidental that Nesebar is turned into a festival town. This is the place where people from around the world gather in the summer, the place where people from all parts of Bulgaria spend their holidays with pleasure throughout the year. To strengthen people’s affection to this heavenly piece of land we created the Nesebar – favored throughout the year concept which united all town celebrations. The motto of the Share Nesebar festivals turned into a trademark of all celebrations of Nesebar and during the last few years it inspired UNESCO town citizens and guests to share their experience of the unique emotion of Nesebar with the people closest to them and the entire world.

N esebar is a living town. It is said that we can’t step into the same river twice. The same is valid for Nesebar. This town always has surprises in store. It always makes you feel special. Not only during the summer, when we all love it because of the sea and its wonderful beaches. The other seasons also have something to offer – the song of the gulls early in the morning, the smell of roasted fish in late autumn, the romance and tranquility of the small cobblestone streets in winter, the scent of freshness and sea in spring ...

T he first celebration of the year is the most romantic one. For a third year already the In love with Nesebar – Weekend of love and wine festival is organized in the days near February 14th, which festival became famous as a winter Black Sea tourism product for young people from around the country. During the holidays around the Celebration of Love and Wine February 14th the citizens of Nesebar organize crazy parties, games and contests with many attractive prices for all. Events are being held in a dedicated tent with a stage at the Old town square in the days around February 14th. Every year festival days are filled with romance, laughter and festive spirit. There is something for everyone – sport, poetry, music, confectionery, applied arts. The local business – hotel- and restaurant-keepers prepare special offers for town guests for those days. A specially designed game is also organized for orientation of couples whose goal is to show the hidden parts of the splendid Nesebar in winter.

T he second celebration is especially intended and tailored for children. The three-day Sand in the Sandals festival for family games is organized in the weekend around June 1st. The festival is the newest product in the concept for domestic weekend tourism promotion that has been developed in the last years. During the three-day games for adults and children, the participants build castles of sand and eco materials, compete in speed and skill, football and Trouble with living pieces are also played. The park is filled with songs and dance, there is a cycling expedition with bikes and scooters, houses of biscuits and chocolate are built as each game is competitive and has attractive prizes. The sports clubs and volunteers from the town participate actively in activities organization. Celebration is developed as a family holiday – the idea is for everyone to have fun – children and adults together in Nesebar, to enjoy the first truly warm rays, to experience town atmosphere in late spring.

F rom June 1st to August 15th (town holiday) Nesebar turns into an international festival centre. In the beginning of June fans of folklore music may enjoy traditional folklore music of different cultures – Nesebar jewelry festival is the right place for you. In the middle of June the international children’s Sun, Joy, Beauty festival with rich history and traditions commences. This event gathers children from all parts of the world and turns Nesebar into a stage of arts, diversity, and children’s hubbub. This year Nesebar – island of arts – an international competition where young people have the chance to demonstrate their qualities and talents was held for the first time.

T he Municipality of Nesebar has prepared something for the fans of bread. On July 7th the Mayoralty of Orizare has organized Celebration of bread for all bread connoisseurs.

N esebar’s day is the culmination of the summer festival season in the town. The feast is traditionally celebrated with three-days of entertainment and spectacular performances which are visited by thousands of Bulgarians and foreigners each year. Each feast has its own theme that unites the celebration events. The idea is for town guests on August 15th to experience and share the magic and spirit of Nesebar and thereby to promote the town as an attractive destination for year-round cultural tourism. The program is filled with fun games, there is something for everyone. Concert events, day-time attractions, art workshops for making souvenirs of remembrance, impressive multimedia spectacle, including a light show and 3D mapping on the fortification walls of the old Nesebar and ending with fireworks display that fills the space over the thousand-year-old town with music and light. A dedicated adventure game with growing popularity has been developed for the feast that attracts guests having the spirit of exploration to take part in the Golden coin adventure.

A fter the feast of Nesebar another children’s festival is in store for children and adults. From August 20th to 25th Nesebar Constellations– a creative art festival organized for children and teens from around the world is held. The festival shows us a glimpse of art and children imagination, it brings us into their world. After that there is Pop-Rock Fest Nesebar, the sound of guitars and drums resound over the Old town and Amphitheater. Young Bulgarian musicians bring joy to the fans of rock music. The diverse program for the end of August is complemented by the Honey Festival. Town guests may go for a stroll to Old Nesebar centre and buy a variety of bee products from Bulgarian producers.

A pproaching autumn and fresh breeze bring the pilot issue of the Orphica Mesembria 2015 elite music classical festival which presents interpretations performed by soloists of Camerata Orphica international chamber and symphonic orchestra to the audience. Classical music is combined with the tranquility of autumn by the sea.

A utumn by the sea, also known as Indian summer is also a season dedicated to creative idleness and fish specialties. The Autumn shoals festival for fish and other arts may be summarized with the final words of each good fairytale ‘And they ate, drank and rejoiced for three days!’ In the days around the Black Sea day - October 31st Nesebar is the most wonderful place to drop one’s anchor, not for a day, but for a whole weekend.

B esides the fun fishing stories, Old town adventures, culinary challenges and musical revelations, Nesebar entices with the scent of sea, fresh fish and fresh beer. The summer in Nesebar is for tourists, but the autumn is for connoisseurs!

N esebar is always beautiful; we want to share its inspiration with the entire world. Nesebar -our town, our life, our heritage!

Hotels

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D uring the years sea has been natural barrier against the attacks against ancient Nesebar, but not the only one. Sea, together with stone fortification walls have ensured the peace of the locals and have made Nesebar inaccessible for enemies. Sea provided livelihood, power, and sustenance. During the years it has given a lot, but has also submerged part of town fortification walls underwater. Sea climate has taken its toll on town landmarks, but Nesebar is still one of the most magnificent monuments of European past.

Old Nesebar churches (further information) and Revival houses (further information), together with windmills (further information) are the most recognized town symbols, but the jewelry style of Mesambria is among the most interesting ones. Sparkling and impressive, the jewels from Mesambria often made of gold and century-old stones, illustrate the wealth and taste for luxury and exquisiteness of the Mesambrian women, as well as the contacts of the settlement with the most famous Mediterranean jewelry centres. Like any other ancient town, Mesambria has had dynamic and erratic past which traces were preserved in the archeological remains and accurately arranged in Ancient Nesebar museum halls.

Churches and sacred places in Nesebar

The Old Nesebar – a small piece of land where every centimeter is a piece of history; a crossroad of ancient civilizations and cultures. Reportedly during its existence, Nesebar has had over 40 churches. Even now, due to the many and well-preserved churches, especially from the 13th and 14th century period, the town is called the Bulgarian Ravenna and the pearl of Orthodox Christianity by our and foreign researchers. Almost during its entire history Nesebar has been residence of a metropolitan. That is why two of Nesebar churches– St. Sofia and St. Stefan are more famous as the Old and the New Metropolia. Nesebar is called "encyclopedia" of the Christian church construction. The oldest early Christian basilicas in Bulgaria are among them. Eighteen of the churches are well-preserved, but construction has been completely discontinued during the Ottoman rule (only one church has been built for five centuries), and the churches that existed before that time were destroyed, because the Ottomans prohibited their maintenance. One of the most iconic Nesebar churches is the St. Mary Eleousa basilica dating back to 5th century, which is situated at the seacoast in the northern part of the peninsula. The St. Sofia church, also known as the Old Metrolopia also dates back to 5th century. It is almost entirely preserved and is perhaps the most magnificent of all churches in Nesebar. St. John the Baptist, built in 11th century is a typical cruciform vaulted church.

St. Stefan church, also known as the New Metropolia has also been built in 11th century and is located close to the harbour. It has three naves and the exterior ornaments are so picturesque that they give rise to the future church construction and ornamentation style of later periods that is typical of Nesebar.

The picturesque style that later became main style is wonderfully applied to the church of St. Theodore; only two facades of which have been preserved in their initial appearance.

It has been restored nowadays, but the preserved ornamental elements are incredible in shape and colour and in the diversity of element combination. The St. Paraskeva church has been constructed in the same style. It is a small construction with one nave, a narthex and a pentahedral apse. The Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel church has also been built in 13th century. It is located in close proximity to the St. Paraskeva church and resembles it in its exterior ornaments. The Jesus Christ Pantocrator (Ruler of All) church with its picturesque ornaments and impressive and beautiful architecture is located in Old town centre. It has been built in 13-14th century. The church is well-preserved, but only insipid traces of its rich interior ornaments still remain. The St. John Aliturgetos (not consecrated) church is considered to be the most beautiful church, which is perching above the harbor. It has three naves, with incredibly masterfully ornamented facades, especially the east façade that faces the sea. Nowadays an ambitious project of the Municipality of Nesebar, called Spiritual path is designed to connect in one itinerary all the churches, beginning at Christ Pantocrator, through St. John the Baptist, St. Paraskeva, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel and progressively to go round the other churches. The project has already opened some of the churches for visits and turned them into artistic workshops, galleries and chamber halls, suitable for limited performances that bring new life to the old churches of Nesebar and return their former brilliant and glorious halo.

Old Nesebar houses

In 1983 the Old Nesebar has been declared a world cultural heritage and part of the UNESCO list as universal cultural heritage. The Old Nesebar has gone through many events during the centuries, from pillages and conquering, to rapid cultural development and centre of spirituality, it has been a crossroad of civilizations and ancient cultures more than once. Nesebar is also the only Bulgarian town in the list of UNESCO. 30 years ago at the 7th session of the World Heritage Committee in the city of Florence, in 1983 the Old town Nesebar is included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. The organization gives three arguments in favour of their decision. The Old town shall be included because of:

  1. Rich cultural and historical heritage
  2. Well preserved Medieval churches
  3. Old Revival houses
Old houses of the Revival period. One of the most recognized symbols of Nesebar. They are clustered close to one another along the narrow, winding and meandering cobblestone streets. Most of them are built in the end of 18th century and the beginning of 19th century and form distinctive architectural ensembles. They are built on small plots of land with irregular shape that really challenged the skills of the old builders.

Walls follow the irregular shapes of the plot and hide the small, secluded courtyards from curious eyes. From time to time one can see the branches of big fig trees. The old houses in Nesebar are typical representatives of our Black Sea architecture of the Revival period. The lower floor is built of stone and intended for farming purposes. Usually animals were living there. This is where barrels of wine and all viticulture, fishing and artesian tools were stored.

The upper residential floor has bay windows and is covered with boards. It has tall and numerous windows. The rooms were located near the big hall: two or three for the owners and their guests and the ceilings are carved. Nowadays these houses are cultural monuments and much more. They are separate worlds keeping the past and the spirit of this eternal town. The Diamandi house, the house of captain Pavel, the house of Panayot Muskoyani where the ethnographic exhibition is held, etc. are very well-preserved as of 16th – 19th century. The entire ensemble of the Old Nesebar shows remarkable taste and mastery in house, wall and street construction.

The windmills of Nesebar

Whether you come to Nesebar by water, land or flying on wings of a distracted seagull, there is no way to miss the Mill. And not just you. During the last few centuries anyone who has stepped on Nesebar soil has admired the unique sight – the neck, the windmill and the peninsula of churches. What splendor! There is a secret though; the mill you see today is not the same windmill that captured the wind 100 years ago. Despite the fact that its geographical location and place in the hearts of people remained the same, today’s mill is decorative only. Once upon a time, however, in 19th century to be more precise, people preferred good-looking things to be useful, as well, that is why the mill that towered over the neck was more or less like all other windmills in town, with just a little better location. During that time there were at least 5 other mills built in the Old town, some of which resembled the present one– they had stone foundation, but the room and the roof were made of wood. This model proved more unstable to time and meteorological conditions that is why there are no authentic representations preserved.

The other type of windmills built in Nesebar were more stable – they were built of stone and had cylindrical shape, only the roof was made of wood. Nowadays two such surviving mills still may be seen – one of them is located on the northern coast of the peninsula close to the Saint Mary Eleousa church, the other one is integrated in Melnitsata hotel in the New town. Let’s go back to the neck. The predecessor of the mill that is located there was self-destroyed in 1929 for one night, by a combination of earthquake and a severe storm. The pile of stones remaining from the fallen mill has stayed as a sad reminder on the neck for more than 15 years. After 1944 the mill is erected once more as a symbol of Nesebar, but this mill, as we mentioned, is purely decorative and that is the reason why it faces the mouth of the neck, in contrast to its prototype, which faced the stronger winds - the northern ones. There is even a copy of the mill from the neck in Greece! It is created by the descendants of the Nesebar families who in 1925 due to political reasons emigrated near Thessaloniki; there they found a town of their own and with nostalgia called it Nea Mesemvria. To honour their ancestors, the citizens of Nea Mesemvria built a memory of home – there are cases where it is worth to chase windmills... No matter what we say, our mill is better looking– when you come to Nesebar.

Full List Accommodation in Nesebar