"Not Looking Its Picture Postcard Best In January.." Nesebar by johngayton
Nesebar Travel Guide: 224 reviews and 629 photos
Nesebar's Old Town is built on what was formerly an island just off Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, about 30 km north of Burgas. In antiquity it was a Thracian settlement before becoming an important Greek port and trading centre during the 6th century BC when it became known as Mesimvria.
In 71 BC the Romans took over, continuing to use the harbour and fortifying the town's walls. Following the decline of the Roman Empire the port see-sawed between Bulgarian and Byzantine rule until the 15th century invasion by the Turkish Ottomans. The Turks seemed to have no need for it as a port and demolished its fortified walls relegating it to relative obscurity for the next 400, or so, years.
At the time of Bulgaria's 1878 liberation the town was a small, mainly-Greek, fishing port. Coming up to the turn of the 19th century the old town began to develop as part of the National Renaissance, during which period many of the present, typically Bulgarian Black Sea, architectural gems were built.
Around 1925 construction began on the new town and in 1959 the resort complex of Slunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach) began to attract international tourism to the area.
With its 30 centuries of varied occupations all leaving their traces, much of which have been preserved, Nesebar was admitted to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.
According to the Municipality's mayor Nesebar and Sunny Beach between them had well over 3 million visits in 2009, including 45 cruise ships. When I was there, on a grey snowy day in January, there was pretty much only me and the cat.
Even though there wasn't much of anything happening, and not a lot was open, I still found Nesebar's old town a fascinating place to wander.
Having the narrow cobbled streets, with their stone lower-floored and wooden overhanging upper-storey Renaissance houses, all to myself was a bit of a treat and I didn't have to worry about getting in anyone else's way as I meanandered randomly looking for camera angles.
As well as the Revival architecture the town's streets ooze history with the remains of decoratively brick-built churches dating from the 10th to 14th century (the town had the highest number of churches per capita in Bulgaria), parts of the fortified walls from Roman, Byzantine and 1st and 2nd Bulgarian Empire, and all sorts of other interesting bits and pieces. Even though the museum didn't seem to be open there were plenty of informative (and multi-lingual) signs around explaining what was what.
As well as being a sort of living museum the town is also a working fishing port as evidenced by the number of well-maintained boats in the various harbours and judging by the number of restaurants (plus of course those at Sunny Beach) I can imagine the docks being bustling places during the season.
The old town might get all the rave reviews but I found the new town quite attractive too. The streets and buildings seemed well-maintained and even the most recent concrete and glass apartment blocks and hotels exhibit some colourful and interesting architectural styles.
It is quite extensively developed but in a compact way and the little crescent of beach is overlooked by the public gardens in the middle of it all. There seemed to be quite a good variety of cafes and restaurants as well as shops, banks and all the other useful things required by residents and visitors alike.
- Pros:Well-preserved Old Town And Quite Attractive New
- Cons:5.70 Leva For "Cheesy Chips"!
- In a nutshell:I Can Imagine It Being Seriously Busy In Summer
Whilst the old town is the pretty bit the new town is the functional but is still worth a visit with its lively cafes... more travel advice
It is reckoned that Nesebar had the highest number of churches per person in Bulgaria at the time of the 2nd Bulgarian... more travel advice
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