Coordinates: 42°39′N 27°44′E / 42.650°N 27.733°E / 42.650; 27.733
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From top left: Northern harbour, Church of Christ Pantokrator, The wooden windmill on the isthmus, Church of St John Aliturgetos, Old house and town walls, Church of St Sophia, Southern bay of the old town
From top left: Northern harbour, Church of Christ Pantokrator, The wooden windmill on the isthmus, Church of St John Aliturgetos, Old house and town walls, Church of St Sophia, Southern bay of the old town
Coat of arms of Nesebar
Nesebar is located in Bulgaria
Position of Nesebar in Bulgaria
Coordinates: 42°39′N 27°44′E / 42.650°N 27.733°E / 42.650; 27.733
 • MayorNikolay Dimitrov
 • City31.852 km2 (12.298 sq mi)
30 m (100 ft)
 • City13,347
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
Area code0554
Official nameAncient City of Nessebar
CriteriaCultural: iii, iv
Inscription1983 (7th Session)
Area27.1 ha
Buffer zone1,245.6 ha

Nesebar (often transcribed as Nessebar and sometimes as Nesebur, Bulgarian: Несебър, pronounced [nɛˈsɛbɐr]) is an ancient city 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. The small city exists in two parts separated by a narrow human-made isthmus with the ancient part of the settlement on the peninsula (previously an island), and the more modern section (i.e. hotels, later development) on the mainland side. The older part bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilisations over the course of its existence.

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. Due to the city's abundance of historic buildings, UNESCO came to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.[1]

As of December 2019, the town has a population of 13,600 inhabitants.[2]


The settlement was known in Greek as Mesembria (Greek: Μεσημβρία), sometimes mentioned as Mesambria or Melsembria, the latter meaning the city of Melsas.[3] According to a reconstruction the name might derive from Thracian Melsambria.[4] Nevertheless, the Thracian origin of that name seems to be doubtful. Moreover, the tradition pertaining to Melsas, as founder of the city is tenuous and belongs to a cycle of etymological legends abundant among Greek cities. It also appears that the story of Melsas was a latter reconstruction of the Hellenistic era, when Mesembria was an important coastal city.[5]

Before 1934, the common Bulgarian name for the town was Месемврия, Mesemvriya. It was replaced with the current name, which was previously used in the Erkech dialect spoken close to Nesebar.[6] Both forms are derived from the Greek Mesembria.


Fortifications at the entrance of Nesebar

Bulgarian archaeologist Lyuba Ognenova-Marinova led six underwater archaeological expeditions for the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) between 1961 and 1972[7][8] 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 Mesembria or Nessebar.[7]

Engineering around the peninsula coastline was undertaken in 1980s both to preserve the coastline (and its historic significance) and to consolidate the area as a port.[9]


Originally a Thracian settlement, known as Mesembria, the town became a Greek colony when settled by Dorians from Megara at the beginning of the 6th century BC, then known as Mesembria. It 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.[10]

Remains date mostly from the Hellenistic period and include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo and an agora. A wall which formed part of the Thracian fortifications can still be seen on the north side of the peninsula.

Bronze and silver coins were minted in Mesembria 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.[11]

Medieval era[edit]

Mesembria Fortress plan

It was one of the most important strongholds of the Eastern Roman Empire from the 5th century AD onwards, and was fought over by Byzantines and Bulgars, 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 city was conquered by the Ottomans during the Bulgarian-Ottoman wars, but was then returned to the Byzantine Empire by the terms of the 1403 Treaty of Gallipoli.

Ottoman rule[edit]

The capture of the town by the Ottoman Empire 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.[12][dead link]

Nesebar was a kaza centre in İslimye sanjak of Edirne Province before 1878.[13]

Third Bulgarian state[edit]

After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1879, 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 1900 it had a population of approximately 1.900,[12] of which 89% were Greeks,[14] but it remained a relatively empty town.[15] 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.


Nesebar is sometimes said to be the town with the highest number of churches per capita.[1], [2] Today, a total of forty churches survive, wholly or partly, in the vicinity of the town.[12] Some of the most famous include:

Whether built during the Byzantine, Bulgarian or Ottoman rule of the city, the churches of Nesebar represent the rich architectural heritage of the Eastern Orthodox world and illustrate the gradual development from Early Christian basilicas to medieval cross-domed churches.



Local team of PFC Nesebar participates in 3-rd (amateur) football league. The stadium capacity is 6000 spectators, field dimensions are 100/50 m and some complementary fields are available for rent or practicing.


There are many possibiltes to play tennis in the area in the summer season. The two main clubs with outdoor and indoor courts are TC Egalite[16] and Tennis academy Nesebar.


Nesebar Gap on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Nesebar.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ancient City of Nessebar:
  2. ^ "Bulgarian National Statistical Institute - towns in 2009". Archived from the original on 2010-11-13. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  3. ^ Shuckburgh, E.S., ed. (1976). Herodotos, VI, Erato ([Reprinted]. ed.). Cambridge: University Press. p. 236. ISBN 9780521052481.
  4. ^ Ivanov, Rumen Teofilov (2007). Roman cities in Bulgaria, Vol. 2. National Museum of Bulgarian Books and Polygraphy. p. 41. ISBN 9789544630171.
  5. ^ Nawotka, Krzysztof (1997). The Western Pontic cities: history and political organization. Hakkert. ISBN 9789025611125.
  6. ^ Deliradev, Pavel (1953). Contribution to the historical geography of Thrace (in Bulgarian). Publisher of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. p. 189.
  7. ^ a b Илиева (Ilieva), Павлина (Pavlina); Прешленов (Preshlenov), Христо (Christo) (2005). "Люба Огненова-Маринова—Ученият, Учителят И Човекът". In Стоянов (Stoyanov), Тотко (Totko); Тонкова (Tonkova), Милена (Milena); Прешленов (Preshlenov), Христо (Christo); Попов (Popov), Христо (Christo) (eds.). Heros Hephaistos: Studia In Honorem: Liubae Ognenova-Marinova [Luba Ognenova-Marinova—scientist, teacher and man] (PDF) (in Bulgarian). Sofia, Bulgaria: Археологически институт с Музей на БАН & Cobrxiur Университет “Св. Кл. Охридски”. pp. 7–11. ISBN 954-775-531-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2012.
  8. ^ Огненова-Маринова, Люба (30 October 2009). "Как Започнаха Подводните Археологически Проучвания В Несебър" [What started underwater archaeological research in Nessebar]. Morski Vestnik (in Bulgarian). Varna, Bulgaria: Morski Svyat Publishing House. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  9. ^ Preshlenov, H. (2022). "Postglacial Black Sea Level Rising, Urban Development and Adaptation of Historic Places. The case study of the city-peninsula of Nesebar (Bulgaria)". Internet Archaeology (60). doi:10.11141/ia.60.5.
  10. ^ Petropoulos, Ilias. "Mesembria (Antiquity)". Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Μείζονος Ελληνισμού, Εύξεινος Πόντος. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Blog". conservation environment. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Doncheva, Svetlana. "Mesimvria (Nesebar)". Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Μείζονος Ελληνισμού, Εύξεινος Πόντος. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  13. ^[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Dragostinova, Theodora K. (2011). Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900–1949. Cornell University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0801461163.
  15. ^ Fermor, Patrick Leigh, "The Broken Road," (2016: John Murray)(ISBN 9781590177549), at 259. "A strange, rather sad, rather beguiling spell haunted the cobbled lanes of this twinkling, twilight little town of Mesembria. Only secured by its slender tether to the mainland, the Black Sea seemed entirely to surround it. At first glance, churches appeared to outnumber the dwelling houses...But still some [people] remained, languishing and reluctant to leave their habitat of two and a half thousand years."
  16. ^ Tzvetanov, Tzvetan. "Tennis club Egalite".
  17. ^ "Norilsk", Wikipedia, 2023-11-18, retrieved 2023-11-26

External links[edit]