Visit date: July 17, 2018, overnight
The second city on the Black Sea coast is Nessebar, located 1 hour and 30 minutes north of Sozopol. This is the biggest Highlight of our trip to Bulgaria, and the place we wanted to visit the most on this trip. So, we decided to spend one night here.
Historic fortress, a city that still retains its beautiful walls
Nessebar is a city located on a small peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea. But even though it is a peninsula, it is so small – 850 meters long and 350 meters wide – that it resembles Dejima in Nagasaki. Because of this natural topography, the city has flourished as a fortress from far away and has been chosen as a World Heritage Site.
In the following, I will write with reference to this site, especially the parts related to history.
Nessebar is one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded almost 3200 years ago, starting with the Thracians around 2000 BC. The ancient name of the city was Mesambria, but in the Middle Ages it became Mesembria and later settled on Nessebar.
After the founding of the city, the Greeks began to colonize it. Then, around the 1st century BC, it came under Roman rule. After that, the city came under the control of the First Bulgarian Empire, the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire until the modern era. This is the standard history of the area.
The topography of the city, which was developed as a fortress, has left behind a beautiful walled old town, which attracts tourists from all over the world, especially during the summer season.
The walls were built by the Thracians in the 8th century BC, and were later extended by Greek settlers in the 5th century BC, while the Romans built new walls. During the Byzantine rule in the 5th century, there was a lot of construction work. The walls near the city gate are the best preserved. In the early Byzantine period the city walls were built on the south-western coast, where they remain today.
Such a great location, it is impressive even before you enter the city. After all, when you cross the bridge over the old town from the continental side, you suddenly see the beautiful walled city in front of you.
Parking situation, very spacious but must be very crowded
Of course, it’s a car, so let’s talk about parking, as always. When you arrive at the peninsula, you will be directed to the north side of the peninsula to the left. On this side, there is a yacht harbor with many yachts parked, and the view is refreshing. If you go further while looking at the harbor on your left, you will arrive at the public parking lot of a large town. This is a very big parking lot where you can park more than 10 sightseeing buses.
However, at the time of our visit, the parking lot was almost full at the height of the tourist season, even at this size. It was hard to find a space.
One of the most popular tourist destinations, hotel situation
So, naturally, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria, and this is reflected in the large number of hotels, their high prices, and the large number of restaurants, even in the small old town. However, Bulgaria is considered one of the least expensive countries in Europe, so it is cheap enough compared to prices in Western Europe. We booked an apartment in the northern part of the city, facing the yacht harbor. We were satisfied with the reasonable price.
ホテルのサイト(Booking.com): ?Hotel Saint Niko
The views are stunning, plus it’s a great location, only a minute or so from the aforementioned parking lot.
The interior is very nice. It’s a bit too big for just one night.
There are many small Orthodox churches in the Old Town
One of the charms of Nessebar is the large number of Orthodox churches built during the Byzantine Empire that remain in the city. When the capital of the Roman Empire moved to Constantinople, Christianity became the state religion and churches were built one after another in Mesembria (the name of Nessebar at that time).
In particular, the Church of Christ the Almighty God in the heart of the Old Town of Nessebar is known for its medieval heritage, which remains in very good condition. There are two ways to see these existing churches: for free or for a fee. For the paid ones, you can buy a ticket with the Archaeological Museum at the entrance of the old town. This is probably the best deal.
There are seven churches that you can visit for a fee. For each church you visit, you will get a stamp on your ticket as shown in the picture above. One of them was stamped when we visited the museum. By the way, according to the legend, there used to be 40 churches in Nessebar, but now there are only 23 remains.
I’m not sure about the photos inside, but I think it was different in each church. However, it must have been possible to take a picture in many places. But of course, flash is prohibited. Or rather, even if it is not prohibited, I think that it should refrain from it. The frescoes inside the church were very beautiful. It reminds me of the Boyana church I visited on the first day.
In addition, the museum is also a must-see because it is very impressive. First we took our time to visit the museum, then we walked around the old town.
A romantic stroll through the old town, even if it is a little bit secular
This is a shot of the old town. It’s true that it has the atmosphere of an ancient city, but there are a lot of tourists, and it’s also true that it’s a little bit secular. Nevertheless, it’s a very fun city to walk around.
Lots of restaurants.
However, it was very difficult to choose a restaurant, I had a hard time. This season (July) is the height of vacation, and the old town is crowded on any day of the week, so it’s hard to get in unless you make a reservation at a restaurant with a high rating on TripAdvisor. We went to a restaurant in the center of the old town.
In the interior of Bulgaria, there were many Turkish dishes, but this one is Greek style. The taste was not so bad. The wine was very good. We were hit by a squall during the meal, but it stopped by the time we finished eating, so we were able to go home without getting wet.
On the way back to the hotel, we also took a walk in the old town. After that, we went to bed at the hotel.
Although there were a lot of tourists and it was a little bit mundane, it was definitely a wonderful city where you can fully enjoy the atmosphere of an ancient city.