Nessebar location

Holiday apartment in Nessebar, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Nessebar

NessebarThe town of Nessebar (9,437 inhabitants) is situated on a small peninsula 37 km north-east of Bourgas and 429 km east of Sofia. Its beach is considered to be the best along the Black Sea coast. The big sandy strip of land between the town and the village of Ravda is covered with extremely fine and abundant clean golden sand. There are marvellous dunes next to the coast. The green copses by the sandy strips provide a cool breath of air during the hot days.

History: The town was founded at the location of a Thracian fishing settlement named Menabryia, which meant the town of Mena (the founder of the settlement). In the 6th century BC it was a colony of the Megarus tribe from ancient Greece, immigrants from Byzantium and Kalhedon. It remained the only Doric colony along the Black Sea coast as the rest were typical Ionic colonies.

The Greeks named it Messembria and it grew into a big and well-fortified town-state with natural protection both from the land and the sea. It was equipped with water mains, a system of sewers, fortified walls, amphitheatre and numerous religious buildings, the most impressive of which was the temple of Apollo. It became a commercial centre and plenty of goods from the Aegean and the Mediterranean basins were traded there. The excavated objects testify to a brisk trade with the ancient world.

The town maintained excellent relations with the neighbouring Thracian tribes and minted its own coins in 5th century BC. Two centuries later it grew so much that it founded its own colony called Navlohos near Obzor. The whole land between Nessebar and Obzor used to be a granary that supplied the two colonies with food as well as products of exchange and import. In 1st century BC the town fell under Roman rule and surrendered to Marcus Lukulus’ legions so that it did not suffer any devastation. It was then that the constructions of the second colony of Messembria began, to the south of it - Anhialo (present day Pomorie).

In the early Middle Ages the town restored the fortress walls and until 812 it was part of Byzantium. In the same year it was conquered by Khan Kroum with no resistance put up, and was included in the territory of Bulgaria. Many a time the town was under the rule of the Bulgarians and then in the hands of the Byzantines.

During the reign of Ivan Alexander the town reached its cultural and economic boom, and it grew to the extent of occupying a huge territory of the land beyond the peninsula. It was approximately in this period that most of the churches of Nessebar were built and up to this day they are a unique feature of the town. According to the world statistics Nessebar has the biggest number of churches per capita.

In 1366 the knights of Amadeus of Savoy conquered and devastated the town and then sold it to Byzantium for 15,000 golden ducats. In 1453 shortly after Constantinople fell under Turkish domination the town was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and suffered decay. At the dawn of the Liberation it was a dilapidated fishing settlement, with well-developed viticulture on the soft hills above the town.

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© Wendy Blann
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