Nesebar (often transcribed as Nessebar and sometimes as Nesebur, Bulgarian: Несебър, pronounced [nɛˈsɛbɐr]) is an ancient city and one of the major seaside resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located in Burgas Province. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Nesebar Municipality. Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea", Nesebar is a rich city-museum defined by more than three millennia of ever-changing history. The small city exists in two parts separated by a narrow man-made isthmus with the ancient part of the settlement on the peninsula (previously an island), and the more modern section (i.e. hotels, later development) on the mainland side. The older part bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilisations over the course of its existence.

It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations and seaports on the Black Sea, in what has become a popular area with several large resorts—the largest, Sunny Beach, is situated immediately to the north of Nesebar.

Nesebar has on several occasions found itself on the frontier of a threatened empire, and as such it is a town with a rich history. Due to the city's abundance of historic buildings, UNESCO came to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.[1]

As of December 2009, the town has a population of 11,626 inhabitants.[2]


From top left: Northern harbour, Church of Christ Pantokrator, The wooden windmill on the isthmus, Church of St John Aliturgetos, Old house and town walls, Church of St Sophia, Southern bay of the old town
From top left: Northern harbour, Church of Christ Pantokrator, The wooden windmill on the isthmus, Church of St John Aliturgetos, Old house and town walls, Church of St Sophia, Southern bay of the old town
Coat of arms of Nesebar

Coat of arms
Nesebar is located in Bulgaria
Position of Nesebar in Bulgaria
Coordinates: 42°39′N 27°44′E / 42.650°N 27.733°ECoordinates: 42°39′N 27°44′E / 42.650°N 27.733°E
 • MayorNikolay Dimitrov
 • Town31.852 km2 (12.298 sq mi)
30 m (100 ft)
 • Town13,347
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
Area code(s)0554
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official nameAncient City of Nessebar
CriteriaCultural: iii, iv
Inscription1983 (7th Session)
Area27.1 ha
Buffer zone1,245.6 ha


The settlement was known in Greek as Mesembria (Greek: Μεσήμβρια), sometimes mentioned as Mesambria or Melsembria, the latter meaning the city of Melsas.[3] According to a reconstruction the name might derive from Thracian Melsambria.[4] Nevertheless, the Thracian origin of that name seems to be doubtful. Moreover, the tradition pertaining to Melsas, as founder of the city is tenuous and belongs to a cycle of etymological legends abundant among Greek cities. It also appears that the story of Melsas was a latter reconstruction of the Hellenistic era, when Mesembria was an important coastal city.[5]

Before 1934, the common Bulgarian name for the town was Месемврия, Mesemvriya. It was replaced with the current name, which was previously used in the Erkech dialect spoken close to Nesebar.[6] Both forms are derived from the Greek Mesembria.


Nessebar Festungsmauern
Fortifications at the entrance of Nesebar

Bulgarian archaeologist Lyuba Ognenova-Marinova led six underwater archaeological expeditions for the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) between 1961 and 1972[7][8] in the waters along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Her work led to the identification of five chronological periods of urbanization on the peninsula surrounding Nesebar through the end of the second millennium B.C., which included the Thracian protopolis, the Greek colony Mesambria, a Roman-ruled village to the Early Christian Era, the Medieval settlement and a Renaissance era town, known as Mesemvria or Nessebar.[7]


Originally a Thracian settlement, known as Menebria, the town became a Greek colony when settled by Dorians from Megara at the beginning of the 6th century BC, and was an important trading centre from then on and a rival of Apollonia (Sozopol). It remained the only Dorian colony along the Black Sea coast, as the rest were typical Ionian colonies. At 425-424 BC the town joined the Delian League, under the leadership of Athens.[9]

Remains date mostly from the Hellenistic period and include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo and an agora. A wall which formed part of the Thracian fortifications can still be seen on the north side of the peninsula.

Bronze and silver coins were minted in the city since the 5th century BC and gold coins since the 3rd century BC. The town fell under Roman rule in 71 BC, yet continued to enjoy privileges such as the right to mint its own coinage.[10]

Medieval era

Mesembria Fortress plan
Mesembria Fortress plan

It was one of the most important strongholds of the Eastern Roman Empire from the 5th century AD onwards, and was fought over by Byzantines and Bulgars, being captured and incorporated in the lands of the First Bulgarian Empire in 812 by Khan Krum after a two-week siege only to be ceded back to Byzantium by Knyaz Boris I in 864 and reconquered by his son Tsar Simeon the Great. During the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire it was also contested by Bulgarian and Byzantine forces and enjoyed particular prosperity under Bulgarian tsar Ivan Alexander (1331–1371) until it was conquered by Crusaders led by Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy in 1366. The Bulgarian version of the name, Nesebar or Mesebar, has been attested since the 11th century.

Monuments from the Middle Ages include the 5–6th century Stara Mitropoliya ("old bishopric"; also St Sophia), a basilica without a transept; the 6th century church of the Virgin; and the 11th century Nova Mitropoliya ("new bishopric"; also St Stephen) which continued to be embellished until the 18th century. In the 13th and 14th century a remarkable series of churches were built: St Theodore, St Paraskeva, St Michael St Gabriel, and St John Aliturgetos.

Ottoman rule

The capture of the town by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 marked the start of its decline, but its architectural heritage remained and was enriched in the 19th century by the construction of wooden houses in style typical for the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast during this period. At the early 19th century many locals joined the Pan Orthodox organization sometimes wrongly called Greek patriotic organization, Filiki Eteria, while at the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence (1821) part of the town's youth participated in the struggle under Alexandros Ypsilantis.[11]

Nesebar was a kaza centre in İslimye sanjak of Edirne Province before 1878.[12]

Third Bulgarian state

After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, Nesebar became part of the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia in Burgaz department until it united with the Principality of Bulgaria in 1885. Around the end of the 19th century Nesebar was a small town of Greek fishermen and vinegrowers. In the early 20th century, the total population increased to 1,870,[11] but it remained a relatively empty town.[13] It developed as a key Bulgarian seaside resort since the beginning of the 20th century. After 1925 a new town part was built and the historic Old Town was restored.


Nesebar is sometimes said to be the town with the highest number of churches per capita.[1], [2] Today, a total of forty churches survive, wholly or partly, in the vicinity of the town.[11] Some of the most famous include:

Whether built during the Byzantine, Bulgarian or Ottoman rule of the city, the churches of Nesebar represent the rich architectural heritage of the Eastern Orthodox world and illustrate the gradual development from Early Christian basilicas to medieval cross-domed churches.


Nesebar Gap on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Nesebar.


Church of Christ Pantocrator, Nesebar (by Pudelek)

Church of Christ Pantokrator

St Stephen church - Nesebar

Church of St. Stephen

Church of Saint John the Baptist Nesebar

Church of St. John the Baptist

Nessebar, Bulgaria - panoramio (69)

The wooden windmill before the town entrance

8230 Nessebar, Bulgaria - panoramio (11)

Typical revival houses in the old town

Church of Saint Sophia in Nesebar 10

Church of St. Sophia

Nessebar city

Nessebar center

See also

  • Sozopol, rival city state during antiquity


  1. ^ Ancient City of Nessebar:
  2. ^ Bulgarian National Statistical Institute - towns in 2009
  3. ^ Shuckburgh, edited by E.S. (1976). Herodotos, VI, Erato ([Reprinted]. ed.). Cambridge: University Press. p. 236. ISBN 9780521052481.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Ivanov, Rumen Teofilov (2007). Roman cities in Bulgaria, Vol. 2. National Museum of Bulgarian Books and Polygraphy. p. 41.
  5. ^ Nawotka, Krzysztof (1997). The Western Pontic cities: history and political organization. Hakkert.
  6. ^ Deliradev, Pavel (1953). Contribution to the historical geography of Thrace (in Bulgarian). Publisher of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. p. 189.
  7. ^ a b Илиева (Ilieva), Павлина (Pavlina); Прешленов (Preshlenov), Христо (Christo) (2005). "Люба Огненова-Маринова—Ученият, Учителят И Човекът". In Стоянов (Stoyanov), Тотко (Totko); Тонкова (Tonkova), Милена (Milena); Прешленов (Preshlenov), Христо (Christo); Попов (Popov), Христо (Christo) (eds.). Heros Hephaistos: Studia In Honorem: Liubae Ognenova-Marinova [Luba Ognenova-Marinova—scientist, teacher and man] (PDF) (in Bulgarian). Sofia, Bulgaria: Археологически институт с Музей на БАН & Cobrxiur Университет “Св. Кл. Охридски”. pp. 7–11. ISBN 954-775-531-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2012.
  8. ^ Огненова-Маринова, Люба (30 October 2009). "Как Започнаха Подводните Археологически Проучвания В Несебър" [What started underwater archaeological research in Nessebar]. Morski Vestnik (in Bulgarian). Varna, Bulgaria: Morski Svyat Publishing House. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  9. ^ Petropoulos, Ilias. "Mesembria (Antiquity)". Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Μείζονος Ελληνισμού, Εύξεινος Πόντος. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Blog". conservation environment. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Doncheva, Svetlana. "Mesimvria (Nesebar)". Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Μείζονος Ελληνισμού, Εύξεινος Πόντος. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Fermor, Patrick Leigh, "The Broken Road," (2016: John Murray)(ISBN 9781590177549), at 259. "A strange, rather sad, rather beguiling spell haunted the cobbled lanes of this twinkling, twilight little town of Mesembria. Only secured by its slender tether to the mainland, the Black Sea seemed entirely to surround it. At first glance, churches appeared to outnumber the dwelling houses...But still some [people] remained, languishing and reluctant to leave their habitat of two and a half thousand years."

External links

2008–09 Bulgarian Cup

The Bulgarian Cup 2008–09 was the 27th official Bulgarian annual football tournament. The competition started on October 15, 2008 with the Preliminary Round and ended on May 26, 2009. The defending champions were Litex Lovech, who successfully defended their title against Pirin Blagoevgrad.

Burgas Province

Burgas Province (Bulgarian: Област Бургас - Oblast Burgas, former name Burgas okrug) is a province in southeastern Bulgaria, including southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The province is named after its administrative and industrial centre - the city of Burgas - the fourth biggest town in the country. It is the largest province by area, embracing a territory of 7,748.1 km2 (2,991.6 sq mi) that is divided into 13 municipalities with a total population, as of December 2009, of 422,319 inhabitants.

Church of Christ Pantocrator, Nesebar

The Church of Christ Pantocrator (Bulgarian: църква „Христос Пантократор“, tsarkva „Hristos Pantokrator“ or църква „Христос Вседържател“, tsarkva „Hristos Vsedarzhatel“, Byzantine Greek: Ναός Χριστού Παντοκράτωρος) is a medieval Eastern Orthodox church in the eastern Bulgarian town of Nesebar (medieval Mesembria), on the Black Sea coast of Burgas Province. Part of the Ancient Nesebar UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Church of Christ Pantocrator was constructed in the 13th–14th century and is best known for its lavish exterior decoration. The church, today an art gallery, survives largely intact and is among Bulgaria's best preserved churches of the Middle Ages.

Church of Saint John the Baptist, Nesebar

The Church of St. John the Baptist is a cruciform church located in Nessebar, Bulgaria.

Church of Saint Paraskevi, Nesebar

The Church of Saint Paraskevi (Bulgarian: църква „Света Параскева“, tsarkva „Sveta Paraskeva“, Byzantine Greek: Ναός Αγίας Παρασκευής) is a partially preserved medieval Eastern Orthodox church in Nesebar (medieval Mesembria), a town on the Black Sea coast of Burgas Province in eastern Bulgaria. It was most likely built in the 13th or 14th century and forms part of the Ancient Nesebar UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Church of Saint Paraskevi features a single nave and a pentagonal apse as well as rich exterior decoration. Its dome and the belfry surmounting the narthex have not been preserved today, and it is unknown which of the three saints named Paraskevi it was dedicated to.

Church of St Stephen, Nesebar

The Church of St. Stephen (Bulgarian: Свети Стефан, Sveti Stefan) is a former Orthodox Church in Nessebar, Eastern Bulgaria, which is now turned into a museum. It is part of architectural and historical reserve in the city, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 100 national tourist sites. The building consists of a three-nave basilica with dimensions 12.1 x 9.5 m, and served as the cathedral church of the metropolitan center in the province of Nessebar.

The church has been restored and enlarged several times and is difficult to be dated exactly. The eastern part is the oldest and probably dates from the 11th century. Some centuries later the church was enlarged by adding a new structure to the west. The western wall was demolished and the present narthex was built. The church was timber-roofed. The exterior is rich in design. The eastern and the western façades are crowned with pediments in the form of trefoil arches. The eastern façade is more elaborate. It comprises three high apses, the middle of which rises above the side ones. All three are decorated with ceramic plaques. A colourful effect is achieved by the mixed masonry of stone and bricks, without keeping to any fixed pattern. The decoration of the façade is the reason for defining this church as an example of the ornamental architectural style.

Church of St Theodore, Nesebar

The Church of St Theodore in Nesebar, Bulgaria, was built in the 13th century, and the north and western façades survive from this era. The other walls and the roof were built later. It is a single nave church with a narthex and apse. The church is 8.70 m long and wide 4.15 m wide.

The façade is decorated with blind arches of worked stone and brick. The space under the arches is ornamented with staggered zigzag patterns of stone blocks and bricks.

Dzhuneyt Yashar

Dzhuneyt Yashar (Bulgarian: Джунейт Яшар; born 30 December 1985 in Asenovgrad) is a Bulgarian footballer of Turkish descent who plays as a midfielder for Botev Galabovo.

Hagia Sophia Church, Nesebar

The Church of Saint Sofia (Bulgarian: Църква Света София, Byzantine Greek: Ναός Αγίας Σοφίας), also known as the Old Bishopric (Bulgarian: Старата митрополия) is an Eastern Orthodox church in Nesebar, eastern Bulgaria. It is situated in the old quarter of the town which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and of the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria.

Ivan Tsachev

Ivan Tsachev (Bulgarian: Иван Цачев; born 18 January 1989 in Varna) is a Bulgarian footballer who plays as a forward for Neftochimic Burgas.

Martin Dimitrov (footballer, born 1996)

Martin Dimitrov (Bulgarian: Мартин Димитров; born 20 March 1996) is a Bulgarian footballer who currently plays as a goalkeeper for Tsarsko Selo Sofia on loan from Botev Plovdiv.

Milen Radukanov

Milen Radukanov (Bulgarian: Милен Радуканов; born 12 December 1972) is a former Bulgarian footballer and manager of Pirin Blagoevgrad.

Nesebar Archaeological Museum

The Nesebar Archaeological Museum (Bulgarian: Археологически музей Несебър, Arheologicheski muzey Nesebar) is a museum located in Nesebar, a town on the Black Sea coast of southeast Bulgaria.

Nesebar Gap

Nesebar Gap (Sedlovina Nesebar \se-dlo-vi-'na ne-'se-b&r\) is a 1.3 km wide gap in eastern Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica bounded to the west by Pliska Ridge and to the east by the northern slope of Mount Friesland, Tangra Mountains. It is part of the divide between the glacial catchments of Perunika Glacier to the north and Huntress Glacier to the south. The gap is part of an overland route between Orpheus Gate to the west, and Camp Academia locality and Lozen Saddle to the east.

The Nesebar Gap was first mapped in detail by the Spanish Servicio Geográfico del Ejército in 1991. Nesebar is the name of a town on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.

Nesebar Municipality

Nesebar Municipality (Bulgarian: Община Несебър, Obshtina Nesebar) is a Bulgarian municipality comprising the northern part of the Black Sea coast of Burgas Province, Bulgaria. Its northern border is with the municipalities of Byala and Dolni Chiflik, its western border — with the municipality of Pomorie, and its eastern border is the Black Sea. Proximity to an international airport, as well as the long coastline and its diverse character create favourable conditions for the development of tourism. It is now the most popular tourist destination in the Balkan Peninsula and one of the most popular in Europe. There are 150 hotels with 70,000 beds, 35,000 beds in private accommodation, more than 1000 cafés and restaurants. The municipal centre is Nesebar, located 20 km from Burgas International Airport.

Nesebar Stadium

Nesebar Stadium (Bulgarian: Стадион „Несебър“) is a multi-purpose stadium in Nesebar, Bulgaria. It is used for football matches and is the home ground of PFC Nesebar. The stadium holds 7,000 spectators.

OFC Nesebar

Nesebar (Bulgarian: Несебър) is a Bulgarian municipal (Bulgarian: общински, pronounced obshtinski) association football club based in Nesebar, Burgas Province, that competes in the Second League, the second tier of Bulgarian football.


Ravda (Bulgarian: Равда) is a coastal village and seaside resort in southeastern Bulgaria, situated in Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province. Ravda is a small seaside resort on the Black Sea, located 3 km from Nesebar and 5 km from Sunny Beach. 30 km from Bourgas airport.

The position on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast provides for the nice weather, quietness and calmness of a country village and the proximity to the attractive resorts Nesebar(world heritage site) and Sunny Beach offers plenty of attractions and entertainment possibilities. Ravda has ecologically clean air and water because the resort is far from the big cities and industrial zones. There are no dangerous species such as sharks, poisonous jelly-fish, scorpions, killer snakes, venomous spiders, or flies.

The average monthly temperature during the summer is 22°C (71°F). Ravda's beaches have fine sand, sunshades are provided for the tourists and there are qualified lifeguards on duty. The cafes and bars near the seaside offer refreshing drinks. There are several big hotels in Ravda and many private rooms and small family hotels, as well as a great number of restaurants, taverns, and disco clubs.

There are regular bus lines to the other resorts in the area — every 30 minutes to Burgas and every 20 minutes to Sunny Beach and Nesebar. Ravda's postal code is 8238, the telephone area code is +(359) 554, where (359) is the country code. As of 2005 the village has a population of 1,745 and the mayor is Lyubomir Damenliev. It lies at 42°39′N 27°41′E, at sea level.

Sveti Vlas

Sveti Vlas (also known as St Vlas, Bulgarian: Свети Влас), is a town and seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, located in Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province. As of July 2007, it has a population of 3,869.

Municipalities of Burgas Province
Notable people
Dobrujan Black Sea coast
(Northern coast, Dobrich Province)
Moesian Black Sea coast
(Central coast, Varna Province)
Thracian Black Sea coast
(Southern coast, Burgas Province)
Bulgaria Cities and towns of Bulgaria (2011 census)

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