Sozopol (6000 inhabitants, 30-50 000 in the holiday season) is the most ancient town on the Western Black Sea coast. It is positioned on a peninsula on the southern part of the Bay of Burgas. The climate of the town is subtropical with breezy hot summers and mild but windy winters.
You can reach Sozopol from:
Archaeological finds indicate that the peninsula has been inhabited for more than six thousand years. The earliest site is dated to the Neolithic Era (5250-5000 BCE.) During underwater excavations in the waters of the modern harbour, archaeologists have found the remains of settlements from the Copper Age and Bronze age (4200-2500 BCE). During the Early Iron Age (end of the 2nd – the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE) the region was occupied by the Thracians. Herodotus mentions the name of a Thracian tribe, the Skirmiani, as the first to inhabit the peninsula and its surroundings. The Thracians were the first seafarers and miners to create a noteworthy culture in the region.
By the end of the 7th century BCE settlers from Asia Minor, from the city of Miletus, had founded one of the most impressive city-states on the western Black Sea on the Sozopol peninsula. The city, founded around 610 BCE, was named Apollonia Pontica, in honour of the patron-deity of Miletus – Apollo. The Ancient authors identify a philosopher named Anaximander as the founder of the city. Apollonia flourished as a city very early in its existence. It became an autonomous democratic polis possessing a large coastal territory and was an intermediary in economic exchanges between Ancient Greece and Thrace. With its flotilla and easily defended ports, Apollonia took control of the merchant road Via Pontica. By the end of the 6th century BCE, Apollonia started to produce its own coinage.
Ancient Apollonia had the likes of the classical urban center with monumental public buildings, defended by strong city walls. Ancient authors mention the temple of Apollo which stood at the center of the city, decorated with a 13-meter high statue of the god and unique outside of the territory of the Greek city-states. Epigraphic monuments testify that there were in the city temples dedicated to Dionysus, Poseidon, Gaya, Syrian Aphrodite and Hecate.
During the 5th and 4th centuries BCE the town flourished because of its political links with Athens and the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace. Apollonia preserved its independence during the campaigns of Phillip II (342-339 BCE) and Alexander the Great (335 BCE). During 72 B.C., the city was conquered, pillaged and burned by the Roman legions of Marcus Luculus. The victors took back to Rome a most prized trophy: the statue of Apollo. The Apollonians were able to shake off the terrible consequences of the destruction of their city and rebuild its walls and temples under the patronage of a rich Thracian called Metok, son of Tarulas. Despite its determination, the city was unable to return to its former glory which had made it famous around the Ancient world as Apollonia Magna.
The necropolis of the Ancient city is positioned outside its walls, along the sea coast. The high ground nearby is covered by funerary tumuli. This part of the coast of Sozopol is its most important archaeological site today, dating to the 5th – 2nd centuries BCE. Here archaeologists have discovered many Greek vases, funerary reliefs and ceramic statuettes. The most substantial collection of Greek vases is kept at the local museum of Sozopol. Some decorated vases from Apollonia are part of the exhibitions of the Louvre, the Hermitage Museum, and the Museum of Pergamon.
The city of Apollonia continued its existence as an important seaport after the conquest of Thrace by the Romans. Its geographical proximity to the eastern Roman provinces was favourable to the spread of Christian ideology. As early as 170 CE sources mention the name of Apollonia’s bishop.
With the establishment of Christianity as the state religion (313 CE) and the division of the Roman Empire (395 CE), the name of the city was changed to Sozopolis (city of salvation). Sozopolis became a major administrative
The significance of Sozopol as a cultural and administrative
The medieval town of Sozopol had more than 20 churches. The names of two bishops from Sozopol, chosen as patriarchs of Constantinople– Ioan XII Kozma and Nil – testify to the importance of the town as a cultural and religious
Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottoman Turks at the end of the 14th century, and Sozopol itself was taken by the Turks in 1453. The Old Town is still characterized by a hundred houses built in the manner typical of the Bulgarian Renaissance architecture. A few churches and 18 chapels from the 15th century are still preserved, built on the ruins of medieval temples. In these holy
As a modern town, Sozopol has developed into a tourist