We offer you to pay attention and see the main attractions of Old Nessebar – churches. According to historians and archaeologists, many centuries ago there were 40 churches in the city. Before our time managed to find and to excavate only 10 churches, but they certainly deserve that we tell everything, that we have learned.
For example, one of them, which was built during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, remained Orthodox. Another was not sanctified, but there were held church services. Many churches are now used as museums or as art galleries.
Churches of Old Nessebar represent immense value. They are important architectural monuments and show the history of church architecture not only of the city, but also the entire country.
More about each church will be discussed in our article.
Church of St Stephen (Nova Mitropoliya)
The Church of St. Stephen – an Orthodox church, the main part of which was built in the XI century. In subsequent time the church was expanding (in the XVI century to the west), and in the XVIII century the narthex was completed. It was originally dedicated to the Virgin, that is why a lot of murals depict scenes from the life of the Mother of God.
The church has a small size, only 12 x 9.5 meters. The building is constructed of brick and stone blocks and is a three-nave basilica.
Until now, in addition to frescoes, well preserved iconostasis of the XVI century, the throne and an ambo of the XVIII century.
The Church of St. Stephen is now a museum. An entrance to it is paid – 5 levs for an adult and 2 levs for a child. Working hours: on Monday – Friday from 9:00 to 19:00; on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 13:00.
To find a temple, you must first go through the main street of the old part of Nessebar – Mesembria, and immediately after the church of Christ Pantocrator to turn right. At the intersection of Ribarska and Mena streets is located the Church of St. Stephen.
The Church of St. John Aliturgetos (Not consecrated)
For today we can see only the remains of the church of St. John Aliturgetos. Built in the XIV century, the temple was badly damaged by the earthquake in 1913. But even what is left of it conveys the power and beauty of Byzantine buildings.
This cross-domed church is made of brick and stone masonry, framed by four pillars and has a size 18.5 x 10 meters. Construction is not typical for churches, as it has two entrances – north and south.
Managed to find out, that the floor of the church was covered with mosaics of various marble, and the altar partition consisted of marble frames.
We found an information, which says about the death of worker during the construction of the temple. According to it, the church was not sanctified, but there were held regular church services.
The building stands right on the beach, in the southern part of the old town, near the port. Nearby, on the street Kraybrezhna is located the Amphitheater, where are often held free concerts and festivals.
The Church of Christ Pantocrator
The Church of Christ Pantocrator – one of the best preserved temples in Nessebar. Very beautiful and harmonious building was constructed in XIII-XIV centuries. The Church has a rectangular shape with dimensions of 16 x 7 meters and two entrances (west and south).
To the present day building was not preserved completely: part of the wall and the dome of one of the towers were destroyed. But even despite this, the church impresses with its greatness. The main highlight of the temple is the impressive masonry of bricks of different colors and sizes. Many arched elements, gorgeous paintings and murals (made in the Middle Ages), the trace of painting preserved on the walls every year attract more and more tourists.
The church has not operating already, it is located in the heart of the old town. On its territory there is an art gallery. Entrance to the Church of Christ Pantocrator is paid – 3 levs per person.
The Church of the Holy Saviour
Externally, the Church of the Holy Saviour does not resemble a temple, it is more like an ordinary fisherman’s house, which is located deep in the old town. This small building, only 11.7 x 5.7 meters, the only Christian church in the city, constructed during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. It was built in 1609 at the expense of a rich townsman (evidenced by the inscription above the entrance).
According to Turkish laws, Christian churches could not be higher, than the rider sitting on a horse, therefore the floor of the temple is located below the ground level. Another feature of this building is the fact, that for several centuries in the floor there was the tombstone of Byzantine Princess Mataisa Kantakouzenos Paleologina. Now it can be seen in the Archaeological Museum.
At present the church is not operating. It is a museum, where you can see a lot of bright frescoes depicting Christ and the Virgin Mary. An entrance into it is paid.
Next to the Church of the Holy Saviour are the ruins of early Byzantine baths (VI century).
The Church of John the Baptist
The small Church of John the Baptist (its sizes 12 x 10 meters) was built in the X century in the old part of Nessebar. The building consists of river stones and rubble. The temple is famous for its exceptional acoustics, because inside of the walls were bricked clay jugs. Throughout the history the church many times was subjected to reconstruction and repair.
The main attractions of the temple are the ancient frescos (XIV century) and the portrait of a local resident (presumably, he was the benefactor).
Nowadays, the church operates as a small art gallery. The entrance is paid.
The Church of St. Paraskevi
The Church of St. Paraskevi – a small one-storey building, built in the XIII century in the ancient part of Nessebar. The church was built as a basilica with the dimensions of 14.7 x 6.6 meters of carefully hewn stone blocks and bricks.
The roof structure was not preserved to this day. It is assumed, that it was domed, and above the building there was a tower-bell.
Nowadays, the Church of St. Paraskevi – is not an operating temple.
The Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel
The Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel – very nice building, located in the old part of the city-museum. The temple has dimensions of 14 x 5.2 meters, built of stone and brick probably in the XIV century. The building has three doors.
The Church decorated with a big dome and square tower. The beautiful decoration of the temple with arches with three rows of glass elements attract the attention of many tourists.
The Church is not operating and is currently on reconstruction.
The Church of St Sophia (Stara Mitropoliya)
The oldest temple of the ancient town is the Church of St. Sophia, located in the heart of the city. The end of its construction dates back to the IX century, although the first phase ended in the V – VI century. In the past, in the territory of the church, was located the residence of metropolitan of Nessebar. In the XIII century the temple was pillaged by the inhabitants of Venice, so that some church relics moved to Venice.
The church, built of stone and brick, had a size of 19 x 13 meters. Inside, everything was covered with plaster and painted. Presumably the floor of the church was covered with colorful mosaics.
At the present time the temple is dilapidated – only part of the walls has remained. In one of them embedded a marble stone with the text from the Bible. According to legend, if you stand next to it and make a wish – there is a strong possibility that it will come true.
Recently, the temple ruins are a favorite place for photoshoots.
The Basilica of the Holy Mother of God Eleusa
The Basilica, built on the north bank of the ancient town, was not completely preserved. The part of the temple (the northern and some central) in connection with the periodic destruction of the coast is under the water. The building was built in the VI century, but residents find out about it only in 1920, during archaeological excavations.
At one time the temple could boast of impressive sizes – 28 x 18 meters. There were found tombs, marble architectural fragments, fragments of bricks and the main highlight of the Church – the icon of the Holy Mother of God.
At present some parts of the building are already impeccably renovated, some preserved and delight tourists, but still a large part of the temple is in need of restoration.
The Church of St. Theodore
The Church of St. Theodore is well preserved till our days. It was built in the XIII century in the Byzantine style (although the part of the walls and roof were renovated and built at later time) of brick and hewn white stone. In order to avoid the destruction during the earthquake, in the construction of the walls there are wooden inserts between stones.
The size of the building is small – about 9 x 4 meters. Not bad has preserved an iconostasis, and also frescoes and mosaics.
The Church is located on Neptune Street, it is not operating now. At the present time, an art gallery is located in the building.
The Church Assumption of the Holy Virgin
The Church Assumption of the Holy Virgin – the newest Orthodox church built in 1883 and only operating in the city. Construction materials for the building were white cut stone and burnt brick.
The gem of the church and the main Christian shrine is an icon with the miraculous image of the Holy Virgin Odigitria, made in the XIII century. There are many legends around it. According to one of them, the icon chose itself the place for construction of the church. In those days in the territory of the present church was the school. One day children playing in the yard saw the icon of the Blessed Virgin in the branches of a tree and brought it into the church. But the next morning the same thing happened again. Local residents decided not to thwart the will of the icon and to build a temple on that place.
The icon is also called “black”. According to legends, it appeared in Nessebar from the Holy Mount Athos. Written from the outset in dark colors, the icon managed to even more become dark over time. There are other hypotheses, which state that the icon has darkened of grief, which people were asked to help them to overpower or that it was frequently carried on the battle places.
Whatever it was, Blessed Virgin is a patron of Nessebar. Therefore, from August 15, 1992 it is the official holiday of the city. On this day the icon is carried out of the church and solemnly carried through the city, and in the night from August 14 until 15, anyone can stay in church and pray.
Also at the temple there is a church museum. And on the wall near the entrance are hanging two bronze planks dedicated to the national heroes of Bulgaria – Vasil Levski and Hristo Botev.
The courtyard of the church is very cozy and green. There are located benches where you can relax and gather your thoughts.
And, of course, here you can see a large sea anchor, propped against one of the walls of the temple.
The map of temples and churches in Nessebar
Useful links and interesting information:
- Unique works of art of Old Nessebar.
- The most interesting buildings and attractions of the old part of Nessebar.
- Photos of Nessebar, which made by tourists: the city, beaches, attractions.