Nesebar previously known as Mesembria is an ancient city and a major seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, located in Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province. Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea” and “Bulgaria’s Dubrovnik”, Nesebar is a rich city-museum defined by more than three millennia of ever-changing history. It is a 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. The ancient part of the town is situated on a peninsula (previously an island) connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilisations over the course of its existence. Its abundance of historic buildings prompted UNESCO to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.
Nessebar is one of the most popular resorts among foreign tourists for its ancient spirit and well-preserved remains. According to legends, the churches of Nessebar were no less than 41, which, when compared to the small population of the town, make the latter one of the world’s settlements with the highest number of churches per capita. One of the oldest sanctuaries is the Basilica built on the coast most probably around the beginning of 5th century. The Old Bishop’s Residence located in the centre of the town is probably the most impressive church in Nessebar. It is more than 25m long and 22m wide while its three naves were decorated with a colonnade and arches. St. Ivan the Baptist Church was built much later, in the 11th century, and is a typical cross-domed church with three naves, and four columns supporting the dome. One can see there fragments of frescoes dating back to the 13th century. The St. Stefan Church or the so-called New Bishop’s Residence, situated in the vicinity of the harbour, was built in the 10th century. Its decoration is so picturesque that it marked the beginning of a typical local style, seen in the construction of churches of later times. The facade of the church is ornamented with built-in glazed ceramic figures of different colours and tiles. The same style was followed in the construction of St. Todor Church, though only two original facades have been preserved until present days. The St. John Aliturgetos Church perching high above the harbour is considered to be the most beautiful one. It has three naves and the decoration of the facades is of unique beaut. Besides well-preserved churches, one can see the remains of fortress walls (best preserved at the old town’s gate and the port), authentic medieval, Roman and Greek street pavements, fortifications of different epochs, administrative and other buildings. Some of the typical houses of Nessebar built in a unique style of the 16th-19th century are real architectural monuments (e.g. the houses of Diamanti, that of Panayot Mouskoyani, which hosts an ethnographic exhibition, the one of Captain Pavel). The old quarters of Nessebar show 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. Outside the town, one can visit the village of Aheloy, in the vicinity of which the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I destroyed the armies of the Byzantine emperor Lion Foka. Aheloy is situated on the motorway to Burgas near the mouth of the Aheloy River. The field of the landmark battle, which made the Bulgarian state the incontestable dominion of the Balkan peninsula, is called nowadays Kokalos (having its root in the Bulgarian word for ‘Bones’) after the scattered corpses of killed soldiers.