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With sandy bays to the north and south, Sozopol’s historic old town stands on a peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea. The cobbled streets of this picturesque fishing port are densely lined with attractive old houses. Sozopol is one of the most popular Black Sea resorts. Small restaurants perch on the coastal cliffs of its Old Town and offer a magnificent view of three islands. In its narrow streets tourists can buy authentic Bulgarian goods – knitwear, leather goods, and even have their portraits done by a local artist.

Ancient artifacts discovered in the harbour area suggest that the site has been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC. Thracians settled on the peninsula in the 2nd millennium BC, but it was from the early 7th century BC, when it became the Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica, that this fishing port rose to power and prosperity. Romans conquered and destroyed the town in 72 BC, and in AD 330 Apollonia was absorbed into the Byzantine Empire. It was then renamed Sozopolis  (“Saved Town”), in reference to its adoption of Christianity.  

During the Middle Ages, Sozopol was one of the First Bulgarian Kingdom’s major ports, and, despite coming under Ottoman rule in 1453, it remained an important centre of shipbuilding, commerce and fishing until it was overtaken by Burgas in the mid-19th century.

The collections in the Archaeological Museum document Sozopol’s long history. Amphorae of various shapes predominate, but there are also some superb Greek pottery vessels decorated with scenes that celebrate Dionysus, god of wine and pleasure. Upstairs there is a fascinating display of figurines from Apollonia’s necropolis, which was in use from the 4th to the 3rd centuries BC. Simple stone anchors of the 2nd–1st millennium BC attest to early trading relations between the Thracians of Sozopol and the eastern Mediterranean.

Remains of Sozopol’s fortifications, built from the 4th to 14th centuries AD, form part of the South Fortress Wall and Tower Museum. Most of the town’s medieval churches were destroyed in the Ottoman period, but later examples remain. Among them are the 15th-century Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa, with elaborate wooden iconostases, and the Church of Sveti Georgi (1836), which has colourful icons. The Church of Sveti Zosim, dedicated to the Orthodox patron saint of seafarers, has icons by Dimitar of Sozopol, an artist of the National Revival period. At the end of the peninsula is Sozopol’s Art Gallery, with seascapes by local artists. Sozopol hosts the Apollonia Arts Festival.







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