Nessebar or the city of 40 churches, as it is called, – is one of the most beautiful and memorable resorts in Bulgaria. For curious tourists is more interesting its old part, where is concentrated the whole history of medieval church architecture in its most important periods.
Despite the fact that in the XV-XIX centuries Nessebar was under the oppression of the Turks, who actively imposed their religion, all the churches there remained Orthodox.
Nessebar is one of the oldest cities in Europe. More recently (in 1956) it was declared as a museum city, and already in 1983 the city was included into the list of World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.
Archaeologists unanimously declare that on the territory of Nessebar was previously 40 churches. By our time was preserved only 11 (one of them was built a little more than 130 years ago), but even they give to understand about what level has reached an architecture of those times. According to the results of the global statistics, Nessebar now occupies the honorable first place, as the city with the largest number of churches in the world.
The surviving temples of Nessebar
It is difficult to imagine, how at an area of just 40 hectares could fit, in addition to the apartment houses, so many temples. Another important fact: after a strong earthquakethat, that took place a few hundred years ago, the part of the city went under water. The area of the peninsula decreased almost twice (24 hectares), but church buildings have remained on the land.
On many sites is encountered information about of special tours around old Nessebar. According to their stated services: you would ride on a boat in the sea and, if the weather is good, you would see the remains of sunken land. We can not say anything about this, because we did not seduce by this kind of entertainment.
Since Nessebar was chosen by us as the resort city, its old part we examined in great detail. Especially the city is beautiful in the evening, when millions of lights illuminate the bridge (isthmus, that connects the old and new part of the city) and the peninsula itself, when every church and a building are illuminated and become like fantastic facilities, migrated from the pages of favorite books.
All those who has ever visited this beautiful city, definitely want to come back here again and again. This is no exaggeration. We were lucky enough to communicate with the same tourists like us, but resting in Nessebar for 5 or even 6 times! From them we learned about what is worth visiting in any of the cities and where it is better to go, and what is likely to be uninteresting and dull. In many ways, our views have coincided.
For those tourists, who have chosen no less worthy and interesting resorts, in addition to Nessebar, but want to see the oldest city in the country, we hasten to report, that to get here will not make any problems. There are organized excursions to the city museum. In addition, the city can be reached by public transport on your own or by a rented car. It is important to remember, that use of the transport in the old part of the city is forbidden, therefore you have to leave the car on the paid parking nearby. Also, if you choose an independent tourism, you have to pay for entrance to some of the churches (mostly, on their territory are now located museums or art galleries).
St. Stephen’s Church (New Mitropolitskaya)
A small church, built in the XI century. The architecture of the temple is well preserved until today as well, as frescoes and mosaics. Judging by the style, three masters worked on the iconography: two – on the eastern part and one – on the west.
Today, at the territory of the church there is a paid museum.
The Church of St. John Aliturgetos (Not sanctified)
According to legend is the only not sanctified church in the city. Built in the XIV century at sea coast, the temple met foreign guests with a beautiful facade, made in the Byzantine style. Strongly damaged by the earthquake in 1913.
Now we can only watch ruins of the church, but even according to them, you can imagine how perfect was this building.
The Church of Christ the Almighty (Pantocrator)
This is one of the most extant churches in the city. Despite its venerable age (construction of the temple dates back to the XIII-XIV centuries), the architecture of the building, as well as numerous paintings and frescoes remaining until today, is attracting foreigners.
At present, an art gallery works on the territory of the church. An entrance to the temple is paid.
The Church of the Holy Saviour (Ascension of Christ)
The only church built during the reign of the Ottoman Empire in 1609. A feature of the temple is that it is half-dug into the ground (not to exceed the height of the rider sitting on a horse).
Now in the church there is a museum, an entrance to it is paid.
The Church of St. John the Baptist
The temple is famous in the first place of that it has an exceptional acoustics due to the pitchers immured in the wall. It was built in the X century, presumably at the expense of wealthy citizens.
Nowadays, the Church of St. John the Baptist – not functioning temple. To get into the building, you can only during art exhibitions.
The Church of St. Paraskeva
The Church of St. Paraskeva – a small one-storey temple, built in the XIII century. The original roof construction has not survived, so was constructed later.
For today, the church is not functioning. As in most of similar (found) temples, art exhibitions are held here sometimes.
The Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel
Beautiful on its architecture, the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, is unfortunately, not very well preserved. The temple was partially impeccably renovated, but still requires constant care and reconstruction. The decoration of the church is the abundance of arches and mosaics.
Now the temple is not functioning, it is under restoration.
The Church of St. Sophia (the Old Metropolia)
The Church of St. Sophia is the most majestic and ancient temple in the old town of Nessebar. By our time been preserved not so much from the original building. On one of the walls of the church is preserved a marble plaque with the text from the Bible. Near it visitors try to make their cherished dreams.
Nowadays, the territory of the temple serves as an object for photoshoots or a scene during major festivals in the city.
The Church of the Holy Virgin Eleusa (of Tenderness)
The Church of the Holy Virgin Eleusa was discovered only in 1920 during excavations. Due to the fact, that the temple was built in the VI century, directly on the seashore, part of it today is under the water.
Currently, the church is not functioning. Tourists are free to admire the ruins of the temple.
The Church of St. Theodore
A small church of St. Theodore, built in the XIII century in the Byzantine style, is not immediately hits the tourists eyes. This is not surprising, because the building externally is very little resemblance to a temple. However, until today is well preserved an architecture of the church, as well as the iconostasis, frescoes and mosaics inside.
Mainly, the church is closed, but sometimes there are art exhibitions.
The Church of Dormition of the Holy Virgin
The only functioning temple in the city – the church of Dormition of the Holy Virgin. It was built not so long ago, in 1883. Famous for the miraculous icon of the Holy Virgin Odigitria, that is also called “black”.
Holy Mother of God is a patroness of Nessebar, and every year on August 15 (a day of the city), the icon is taken outside the walls of the temple.
The location of Nessebar temples – a map of churches
In order it was easier for you to find described in the article churches and temples, we marked them on a special map. Also it is possible to see other places of interest in Nessebar:
Photos of churches in Nessebar
Since we like to travel as much as taking photos, then we share to you with the most vivid and unusual photos of churches in Nessebar.
More detailed information about preserved 11 churches and about our impressions of them read in a separate article: In details about the existing churches of Nessebar.
Useful links and interesting information:
- Why does the old part of town of Nessebar is memorized for tourists?
- Choosing a place for a holiday: what resort is better to choose?
- Excursions in sunny Bulgaria: how and where to choose the best?
- A detailed description with useful tips on choosing between an independent tourism and organized excursions.
- A detailed description of all existing churches of Nessebar: a history of construction of temples from the V century until today.