Nessebar Church of St John the Baptist

Holiday apartment in Nessebar, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Nessebar

Nessebar Landmarks: There are 41 churches in Nessebar, not all of them have preserved their full brilliance but even in their present condition are impressive. One of the oldest is the Basilica situated on the seashore, and probably built at the beginning of 5th century. The building had three naves, however only the foundations remain today. The Old Bishop’s Residence located in the centre of the town is probably the most imposing of all the churches remaining in Nessebar. It is more than 25m long and 22m wide. The three naves were decorated with a colonnade and arches, stone and brick laid with a mosaic covered floor. St. John the Baptist Church was built in 11th century and is a typical cross domed church with three naves, and four brick-laid columns supporting the whole dome. There are some fragments of frescoes preserved dating back to 13th century. There is a small archaeological museum arranged in the church.

NessebarThe St. Stefan Church or the so-called New Bishop’s Residence was built in 10th century, and is situated in the vicinity of the harbour. The exterior decoration is picturesque and is of the typical style of Nessebar. The facade of the church is ornamented with built-in glazed ceramic figures of different colours, adorned with majolicas and enamelled tiles. The main frescoes were painted in 14th-15th centuries. The bishop’s throne and the altar were made of wood later in 17th century.

St. Todor Church has only two facades that have been preserved in their initial style. It has been restored, but the reserved decoration elements are unique in shape and colour. The St. Paraskeva Church was built in the same style. It is a small one-nave church. Consoles with tiny arches support the upper part of the dome and resemble a children’s sandcastle. Nessebar

In the centre of the town is the Pantocrator Church with domes on a rectangular foundation. The St. Yoan Aliturgetos Church is considered to be one of the most beautiful, perched high above the harbour. It has three naves and the decoration of the facades is of unique beauty, particularly the eastern one facing the sea.

The remains of many parts of the fortress walls have been found as well as the square turret, the round turret, a large part of the authentic medieval street pavement, and some of the Roman and Greek pavements, fortifications of different times and epochs, remains of administrative and other kinds of buildings. In spite of its small size, the town surprises tourists with antiquities appearing all over the place.

During the 17th centuryTurkish rule only one church was – the St. Spas Church. The typical houses of Nessebar, built in the unique style of 16th-19th centuries, are interesting architectural monuments. So are the houses of Diamanti and that of Panayot Mouskoyani, which host an ethnographic exhibition. The whole ensemble of the old quarters of Nessebar shows remarkable taste and mastership in the construction of houses, stone walls, and streets. The Turkish bath and the windmill at the beginning of the causeway are of particular interest.

Transport: There is regular transport connecting Bourgas and Pomorie to Nessebar and Slaunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach). There are private taxis with moderate prices. There is also water transport to Bourgas where you can often hire local boatmen to reach various places in the bay.

Surrounding areas: The village of Ravda is situated south of Nessebar and a sand strip connects them. There are melon fields, vines and gardens near the village where one can buy fresh agricultural products at low prices. There are numerous children’s and youth camps, holiday houses and private lodgings. The village of Aheloy is situated on the motorway to Bourgas near the mouth of the Aheloy River. This is where the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I destroyed the armies of the Byzantine emperor Lion Foka in the area now called Kokalos because of the scattered bones of the killed soldiers.

Beaches: Bulgaria boasts some of Europe's best sandy beaches, with over 370km of coastline. The waters are safe and crystal clear, offering perfect conditions for swimming. The well known stretches at Golden Sands and Sunny Beach are among the best for beach lovers. There are 10 Blue Flag Beaches in Bulgaria, details at www.blueflag.org

Food & Drink: Famous for its ancient tradition of wine production, you'll find locally produced wine and beer, at great prices. Try Shopska, a salad made from tomatoes, cucumber, onion and feta cheese, or Midi Tzigane, mussels in a spicy mustard and cheese sauce. Other local specialities include Banitsa (cheese pie), and Sarmi (stuffed vine leaves).

Shopping: Shop for leather goods, carved woodwork, kitchenware made with beaten copper, colourful embroideries, ceramics and handmade jewellery. Spend leisurely hours browsing Varna's great selection of shops. Most goods in Bulgaria are reasonably priced.
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© Wendy Blann
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