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Nesebar (often transcribed as Nessebar and sometimes as Nesebur, Bulgarian: Несебър, pronounced [nɛˈsɛbɐr], Thracian: Melsambria, Greek: Μεσημβρία, Mesembria) is an ancient town 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.
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. 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.
As of December 2009, the town has a population of 11,626 inhabitants.
Nesebar (or Nessebar) is a town in Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast. The central ancient town is full of medieval churches, and is quite beautiful. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bulgarian archaeologist Lyuba Ognenova-Marinova led six underwater archaeological expeditions for the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) between 1961 and 1972 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.
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. Remains from the Hellenistic period include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, and an agora. A wall which formed part of the 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.
It was one of the most important strongholds of the Byzantine Empire from the 5th century AD onwards, and was fought over by Byzantines and Bulgarians, 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.
The capture of the town by the Turks 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 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.
Nesebar was a kaza centre in İslimye sanjak of Edirne Province before 1878.
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. 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.
Transportation - Get In
There are regular local buses from surrounding resorts into Nesebar. If you are on a package holiday in one of the nearby resorts, the rep may try to sell you an excursion to Nesebar on the basis that local buses are unreliable, confusing and expensive; ignore them. You can get buses to Nesebar that are clearly marked in English from numerous bus stops along the main road, and they only cost a few stotinkis.
You can also get a tourist boat from Sunny Beach to Nesebar; this is more expensive and less frequent that the buses.
Transportation - Get Around
Roads in and around the old town of Nesebar are quite narrow and cobbled. It is probably wise to park just outside of the town and go by foot. The cobblestones does make wheelchair access quite difficult but some streets have smoother surfaces.
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There are numerous shops and stalls selling souvenirs in Nesebar. Most of their stuff is cheap tourist tat, but you can pick up locally produced lace too.
There are loads of restaurants in Nesebar, with a high proportion employing touts to encourage tourists into their premises. These are likely to be more expensive that most restaurants in Bulgaria, and not very good quality. The Tequila Bar is often recommended though.
Coffe & Drink
Zagorka is the national lager and is excellent value and tasty. Kamenitza is also a good beer known nationally in Bulgaria. Burgasko is the local beer but have heard rumors that the quality has declined.
Sights & Landmarks
A huge part of the ancient city of Messembria (the old city of Nesebar, located on the ex-island) has sunk under water. When counting the numerous sunken ones, Nesebar becomes the city with most churches per capita in Bulgaria.
Things to do
The main things to do in Nesebar are to wander around the cobbled streets and visit the churches. In winter museums closed saturday and sunday.
Nesebar is extremely safe but you may find that the sellers and shopkeepers are very persistent. A lot of the time a shop keeper will insist on following you around the shop and trying to make you try on jewellery clothes etc. A polite but firm "no" usually suffices.