I wrote this guide to Nessebar 10 years ago for a tourist site. As its hosting services are closing, I am moving the info here, someone might find it useful.
Nessebar is one of the most ancient towns on our territory, founded in 510 BC under the name of Messemvria. It is famous for its antique churches and fortifications from the Roman and Byzantine empires, that offer a spectacular mix with the houses from the Bulgarian Revival period of the 18th century .
The town is situated on a small rocky peninsula in the north end of the Bourgas bay. His emplacement is crucial for stopping the waves to the wide sand line of Sunny beach resort.
Nessebar covers an area of around 25ha and is connected to the main land with a narrow road long 400m split in the middle by an old windmill.
It is located a bit aside, on the panorama road connecting the South to the North coastline. 35 km to Bourgas and 100km from Varna
Nessebar is part of the UNESCO world heritage since 1983.
here s the description that UNESCO gave for the town:
“Situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea, the more than 3,000-year-old site of Nessebar was originally a Thracian settlement (Menebria). At the beginning of the 6th century B.C., the city became a Greek colony. The city’s remains, which date mostly from the Hellenistic period, include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora and a wall from the Thracian fortifications. Among other monuments, the Stara Mitropolia Basilica and the fortress date from the Middle Ages, when this was one of the most important Byzantine towns on the west coast of the Black Sea. Wooden houses built in the 19th century are typical of the Black Sea architecture of the period. ”
The Magic of this place makes me come back again…and again…and again….
The more I travel, the more I make refefences with other places I’ve seen. Nessebar for example could be a partner city with Bansko – because of its similar architecture , or with Lindau / Bavaria / Germany – for both being peninsulas with traditional architecture.
- Pros:Beautiful Village with a special Charm
- Cons:Very Crowded in July and August
- In a nutshell:Charming Bulgarian Village with lots of Ruins and old Orthodox Churches – a Must if you are on vacation in Sunny Beach
map of the Old Nessebar
As I said it’s not easy to get lost in Nessebar as you’ll sooner or later end up at the sea, but for those of you that love maps as I do, I am posting this one.
Nessebar has 2 ports,one towards the bay of Sunny beach and one Towards Bourgas
The main Shopping street is called Mitropoliiska, but all the rest of the streets are full of surprises:)))
Well kept ruins are greeting you at the entrance of the Old town of Nessebar.
Nessebar is greeting you with its cafes,where you can take a rest under the shades of the trees before you start with your shopping marathon. Here you will see 2 streets one left and one right. Take the left if you wanna visit the endless shops and souvenirs ,and the right if you wanna take a walk through the old houses and beautiful renaissance architecture.
Here on the right side of the Tatoo studio and the hotel is located the archeological museum of Nessebar.
The church of Saint Sofia ( Old Mitropolia ) is located in what is supposed to have been the center of the ancient city. It is a three-naved unvaulted basilica with a semi-circular apse, a narthex and an atrium. The church has a total length of 25.5 m and a width of 13 m. The division into three naves was effected by two rows of five pillars each. The middle nave (9.3 m wide) ends to the east with a big closed apse, round outside and three-sided inside. There are three arched windows on the eastern wall above the apse. The basilica used to have a double-sloped roof which has not been preserved. From the inside the church used to be plastered and then painted with frescoes. The whole floor used to be covered with mosaics made out with little coloured stones. It has mixed masonry of stone and brick and is the largest of the Nesebar churches whose overground structure has survived.
The basilica was constructed in the late 5th and early 6th century. Its present appearance was dated from the beginning of the 9th century when it was reconstructed. During the Middle Ages it served as a cathedral for the bishopric eparchy centered in Nesebar. In 1257 the church was looted by the Venetians during a campaign against the Bulgarian Empire and many religious relics were taken in the Church of San Salvatore in Venice. The basilica was abandoned in the 18th century.
You won’t find this shop on the main street. you need to take a left turn before the Mitropoliia square and than look for a church at the end of the street.The shop is located behind it. You will be offered tea as you take a look at the hand made carpets
Theme: Home Furnishing
The Church ” Hristos Vsedurjitel ” (Pantokrator) XIII – XIV century, can be found in the Center of Nessebar and is used as art gallery.There is no chance to miss it as it is located on the main commercial street. On the lright side of it , you have the post office if you need to make a call home or send cards.
Directions: Take the street with all the shops on your left and you will see it standing in front of you on the right side in a small garden.
It is so beautiful to see the sunrise while everybody is still sleeping and all you have for company are the seagulls flying over your head and screaming to greet the sun.
Before sunrise , you can see the fisherman heading on their way to throw their nets in the Sunny beach bay. It’s always something interesting to observe…
on the second pic You can see the port of the old Nessebar at the right forming a gate to the bay of sunny beach with Emine cap where the sun rises in the morning.
An old house
An Old house in Nessebar from the Bulgarian Revival period of the 18th century, with the traditional lace handcrafts that the women do during the long winters….
Wood is what is more typical for the Nessebar houses, old worn out wood , with a brown ,gray color due to the high moisture…The wood is used for isolation and preservation of the facades. The weather conditions in winter are very harsh – strong freezing winds blow often.
first floor is made out of white stone usually.
The Old port of Nessebar
is the one facing the Sunny beach bay, just below the white church of the village.
The view when you arrive with those water taxis – little boats is beautiful.
Ruins of Basilica”Virgin Merciful”
Built in VI century , In the historical sources it has been mentionned through the whole period of the Middle Ages until XIV century,when it was part of a monastery complex . It was discovered during excavations in 1920. It has three naves , three apses with a narthex and atrium . The middle apse outside is trilateral and inside semicircle. The side naves have two small apses at the north and the south. In the narthex domed tombstones are preserved. The northern nave and part of the central nave razed in the sea. The Basilica was 28m long and 18m large. Now the church ruins are conserved and restored.
Address: By the North Tower
Directions: By the North Tower visible when arriving from Sunny Beach
“Kapitanska Sreshta” Restaurant
A typical Renaissance House perched over the Port hosts the famous restaurant “kapitanska Sreshta” / captain’s meeting /. This is a highly recommended place because the atmosphere is Authentic and bears the marks of the years . Fishnets hanging from the wooden ceilling host swallow’s nests and you can see the birds flying inside over the bar. I did not havew the time to try the cuisine as I was in a hurry – but promise will , next time I”m around – Probably for Sting concert.
In the Old town of Nessebar the fences of the houses are high, to protect the privacy of those living inside. Built out of stone, they leave you with a feeling of walking between fortifications. Streets are narrow , covered with stone , the Mediterranean spirit is in the air…..The wooden upper floors of the houses are forming an arch over your head. I guess it was very handy to pass the salt between neighbors at the time.
This is the main port of Nessebar .where the cruise ships are stoppind on the way to their next destination. It has a view to the bay of the new town with its beach where bulgarians like having fun. “Chevermeto” is a very famous folklore open air restaurant above the beach.
I only saw him once… First there were these notes in the air ,as I was climbing the stairs to the church. Than the music became distinctive, and as I entered – there he was , sitting on my right, playing a nostalgic melody on his banjo.
I stood there and listened….than I talked to him. He was very nice.
He offered to sell me a hand made banjo by him for a reasonable price – a small copy of his own.He said he doesn’t give it to everyone. I still have it home and it even makes sounds when you touch the strings:)) price for the memory – 12lv
Taking the panorama Promenade that goes around the peninsula , you will end up at some point over this water restaurant, situated by one of the few sand beaches in the Old Town on that has a view to the Bourgas bay.
A sunset over water is hard to be seen so for this one I went at the new port of Nessebar.
The green color of the pic comes from my shades that I put in front of the camera instead of a filter.
located in the mainland at the junction of the road coming from Old Nessebar and the land. It’s here that the annual surf fregata takes place.
Located above the new port , the Restaurant is my latest discovery and highly recommended to anyone because of its incredible atmosphere and its unbeatable location offering a view over the port ant the bay of the New Town of Nessebar.
The ground floor is furnished as an ancient ship , with fishnets hanging from the ceiling and inhabited swallow nests on the ceiling. The top floor is furnished as a nineteen century house with a rocking chair in the center and several rooms to ensure the privacy of the guests. Unfortunately you cannot see how magic the atmosphere is on the top floor from my pics ,but I will do my best to get new ones any time these days. The atmosphere is so real ,that I expect a high class lady with umbrella and a corset dress to pop up any time with her gentleman dresses in smoking.
The place used to be a favorite of our Communist party leader – Todor Jivkov , and we all know he had a taste for the beautiful corners of our land.
Address: New port of Nessebar
Price Comparison: about average
Phone: 0554 42124
Sea Fast FoodAt the port you will find all those Fish Fast Food restaurants with fried , baked or stewed fish, crabs,shrimps,french fries etc….
Price Comparison: about average
Restaurant with a sea breezeLocated on the side facing the new town of Nessebar, the restaurant lets you enjoy the view to the bay and the fresh ocean breeze while you are having your food.
Price Comparison: about average
Dama Karo Restaurant: a typical local tavernOne of the many taverns located just behind the Old Metropoliia, with delicious bulgarian cuisine and reasonable prices.
Price Comparison: about average
Price: less than US$10
Tequilla Bar – Nessebar: Tequilla bar – THE place to go outTequilla bar is THE place to go out in Old Nessebar. Located in a platform in the sea in the old port of Nessebar , Tequilla is very popular with the locals ,and with people coming from Sofia.Great atmosphere, good music and happy party people make the place unique and fun to be in…
Dress Code: Casual wear , everything that feels comfortable
Address: Fish port of old Nessebar