.  
 New Mexico logo

Dates of visit:
September 1 - 20, 2010

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Meeting Cousins
 Historic Bulgaria
 Roman Ruins
 Byzantine/Turkish
 Nature Reserves
 Rock Churches
 Ethnographic
 Monasteries
 Fortifications
 Palaces
 Black Sea Coast

 Kachina

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ]
Bulgaria - Part 0 - Introduction, Portrait & History of Bulgaria
Bulgaria - Part 1 - Rock Curches, Rusenski Lom, Medieval City of Cherven
Bulgaria - Part 2 - Nove, Ulpia Eskus, Belogradchik Fortress, Vratsa
Bulgaria - Part 3 - Sofia, Balchik Palace, Trigrad, Shiroka Laka, Plovdid
Romania - Part 1 - Arges Monastery, Poenari Fortress, Alpine Pass
Romania - Part 2 - Sibiu, Fortified Churches of Biertan and Viscri
Exploring Bulgaria's Cultural Highlights
Ancient City of Nesebar (Nessebar, Nesebur)

Nesebar (Bulgarian: also transcribed as Nessebar or Nesebur; ancient name: Mesembria) is an ancient city and a major seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, located in Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province. Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea" and "Bulgaria's Dubrovnik", Nesebar is a rich city-museum defined by more than three millennia of ever-changing history.

Panoramic view of ancient part of Nesebar

(Image: Panoramic view of ancient part of Nesebar) It is a 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.

Wooden houses in old Nesebar (Image: Wooden houses on Nesebar's peninsula) 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 civilizations 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



Ruins of city walls (Image: Ruins of city walls) Name ... Inhabited in the Antiquity by the Thracians and the Ancient Greeks, the original Thracian settlement Menebria was called Mesembria by the Ancient Greeks. Under this name it was still known in the Middle Ages to Bulgarians and Byzantines.







Causeway to old Nesebar (Image: Causeway to old Nesebar) History ... 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 center from then on and a rival of Apollonia (Sozopol). It remained the only Doric colony along the Black Sea coast, as the rest were typical Ionic colonies. 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.

Fortification at entry to Nesebar (Image: Fortifications at the entrance of Nesebar) 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.

Church of Christ Pantocrator (Image: Church of Christ Pantocrator (13th century)) Monuments from the Middle Ages include the 5th - 6th century Stara Mitropoliya ("old bishopric"; also St Sophia), a basilica without a transept; the 10th 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.



Church of St John Aliturgetos (Image: Church of St John Aliturgetos (14th century)) 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. It was a kaza centre in ?slimye sanjak of Edirne Province before 1878. After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, Nesebar became part of the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia as a kaza centre in Burgaz sanjak until it united with the Principality of Bulgaria in 1886.

Church of John the Baptist (Image: Church of John the Baptist (11th century)) Around the end of the 19th century Nesebar was a small town of Greek fishermen and wine growers, but 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.






Download Complete Article ...
Ancient City of Nesebar - (2.1 Mb)


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Gallery - Ancient City of Nesebar (Nessebar, Nesebur)
Ancient City of Nesebar Ancient City of Nesebar Ancient City of Nesebar
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
Gallery - Old Nesebar at night
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
Gallery - Old Nesebar Wooden Houses
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia
City of Sofia City of Sofia City of Sofia

Balchik Palace (Quiet Place)

Balchik The Balchik is a palace in the Bulgarian Black Sea town and resort of Balchik in Southern Dobruja. The official name of the palace was the Quiet Nest Palace. It was constructed between 1926 and 1937, during the Romanian control of the region, for the needs of Queen Marie of Romania. The palace complex consists of a number of residential villas, a smoking hall, a wine cellar, a power station, a monastery, a holy spring, a chapel and many other buildings, as well as most notably a park that is today a state-run botanical garden.

Architectural complex ... Marie of Edinburgh, the wife of Ferdinand I of Romania, visited Balchik in 1921 and liked the location of the summer residence, ordering the vineyards, gardens and water mills of local citizens to be bought so a palace could be constructed at their place. Balkan and Oriental motives were used in the construction of the palace that was carried out by Italian architects Augustino and Americo, while a florist was hired from Switzerland to arrange the park. The main building's extravagant minaret coexists with a Christian chapel, perfectly illustrating the queen's Bahá'í beliefs.

Today many of the former royal villas and other buildings of the complex are reorganized inside and used to accommodate tourists. Some of the older Bulgarian water mills have also been preserved and reconstructed as restaurants or tourist villas.

Balchik Palace Garden Botanical garden ... In 1940, after the reincorpration of Southern Dobruja in Bulgaria with the Treaty of Craiova, the Balchik Botanical Garden was established at the place of the palace's park. It has an area of 65,000 sq. m. and accommodates 2000 plant species belonging to 85 families and 200 genera. One of the garden's main attractions is the collection of large-sized cactus species arranged outdoors on 1000 sq. m., the second of its kind in Europe after the one in Monaco. Other notable species include the Metasequoia, the Para rubber tree and the Ginkgo.


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Gallery - Balchik Palace (Quiet Place)
Balchik Palace Balchik Palace Balchik Palace
Balchik Palace Balchik Palace Balchik Palace
Balchik Palace Balchik Palace Balchik Palace

Cape Kaliarka

Cape Kaliarka Kaliakra is a long and narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located 12 km east of Kavarna and 60 km northeast of Varna. The coast is steep with vertical cliffs reaching 70 m down to the sea.

Kaliakra is a nature reserve, where dolphins, cormorants, and pinnipeds can be observed. It also features the remnants of the fortified walls, water-main, baths and residence of Despot Dobrotitsa in the short-lived Principality of Karvuna's medieval capital.

The first traces of the inhabitants of Kaliarka lead us back to the 4th c. BCE, when the Thracian tribe Terizi settled here. They also gave the first name of the cape - Tirizis. Later, the settlement fell under the rule of the Roman Empire and then the Byzantine Empire.


Russian Admiral The name Kaliarka, which is translated from ancient Greek as "a nice and hospitable cape", was first mentioned in a navigational map in 1318. The major growth of Kaliarka came in the second half of the 14th c., when the fortress became the capital of the independent Bulgarian principality.

Kaliarka is one of the last Bulgarian territories to fall under the Ottoman rule. In 1444 the knight warriors of the Polish-Hungarian king Vladislaus III Jagiello conquered the fortress but were forced to leave it after their defeat nar Varna.

On 31 July 1791 the greatest battle in the Black Sea occurred near Kaliarka. The Russians utterly defeated the larger Ottoman squadron. This victory ended the Russian-Ottoman war of 1787-1792. The Russian admiral is honored on Cape Kaliarka with a monument.




HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Gallery - Cape Kaliarka
Cape Kaliarka Cape Kaliarka Cape Kaliarka

Yailata Archeological Reserve

Yailata Archeological Reserve The name 'Yailata' has a Turkish origin and in Bulgarian means 'high pasture'. The national archaeological reserve 'Yailata' is situated 2 km away from Kamen Bryag in south and 18 km away from Kavarna in north-eastern Bulgaria. It is a seaside ledge covering 300 decares (45.3 hectares) and is detached from the sea by 50-60 meters high rock massifs.

There is a cave 'city' of 101 'apartments', settled as far back as V century B.C. Three necropolises (family tombs) out of III- IV century have been hollowed out in the rocks. Necropolis 1 has come onto being near a whittled down sanctuary, facing the rising sun. A little early- Byzantine stronghold is situated in the northern part of 'The Big Yaila'. It is built in the late V century. One tower gate and four towers are partially preserved. There are also a sanctuary, sacrificial stones, and wineries, four dug into tombs, which have been reserved since the Antiquity. During the middle Ages, the caves have been used as a monastery complex. There are some proto-Bulgarian signs on their wall ruins, crosses and stone icons.

The area of 'Yailata' is announced as an archaeological reserve in 1989 by a resolution of the Ministerial Council of Bulgaria. It covers comparatively big surface of the coast line starting from the village of Kamen Bryag in the north and reaching 'Rusalka' resort in the south, including 500 meters all along the sea line as well. There are many monuments in the territory of the archaeological complex, belonging to different historical epochs - from VI millennium B.C. until the middle XI century. The regular archaeological excavations have been made since the beginning of 1980. Every endeavor has been made so that the early-Byzantine stronghold and the necropolises out of stone tombs and the cave complexes to be investigated carefully and in detail.

Not less important are the remains in the Kaliakra reserve. The huge arc of the Kaliakra gulf is the only protection of ships against the northern and eastern winds since ancient times and it is a natural wharf for loading and unloading ships. There are signs of arrival of ships in Rusalka and the Yailata.

Stone, parts of leaden and iron anchors, as well as a variety of ceramic materials have been pulled out of the sea bottom. In 1791, in the gulf, the Russian fleet commanded by admiral Ushakov defeated the Turkish fleet and many ships sunk. Once, when fishers pulled out their fishing-nets from a depth of about 60m, they found remains of antique and medieval ships. All this proves that the territory around Kaliakra is full of cultural remains.

Yailata Archeological Reserve A small fortress is situated on the northern part of the plane terrace known as the Big Yayla. The place it was built on, slightly dominates over the surrounding terrain and is separated from the sea by 20 m high rocky cliffs to the north and east. Thus fortification walls were needed only to the west and south. These are 2.60 m wide, with total length of 130 m. Facing the mainland, four solid towers are placed in front of the western fortification wall, and the gate to the fortress was located in the southern end of the southern fortification wall. The faces of the defense constructions were precisely built from closely fitting stone blocks, which at some places are 2.00 m long and 0.70 m wide. In the inside there are three stairs closely attached to the fortification wall, which are in a good state of preservation. They were positioned in such a way as to allow fast and easy access to the platforms of the walls and the towers. A small area from the interior of the fortification settlement has been excavated and investigated. The main street has been cleared leading from the gate to the fortress center and a large-sized building, probably the sentinel premises. Stone stairs closely fit to one of the building indicate that this was a two-storey construction.

Download Complete Article ... Yailata Archeological Reserve - (409 Kb)


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Gallery - Yailata Archeological Reserve
Yailata Archeological Reserve Yailata Archeological Reserve Yailata Archeological Reserve
Yailata Archeological Reserve Yailata Archeological Reserve Yailata Archeological Reserve
Yailata Archeological Reserve Yailata Archeological Reserve Yailata Archeological Reserve

Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo

Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets is a medieval stronghold located on a hill with the same name in Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria. It served as the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary fortress and strongest bulwark from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces, and is a popular tourist attraction.

History ... The earliest evidence of human presence on the hill dates from the 2nd millennium BC. It was settled in the 4th century and a Byzantine fortress was constructed near the end of the 5th century, on the grounds of which the construction of the Bulgarian stronghold was begun in 12th century. After the Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion and the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire with its capital in Veliko Tarnovo, the fortress became the most important one in Bulgaria, often compared with Rome and Constantinople in magnificence. In 1393, the stronghold was besieged by Ottoman forces for three months before finally being conquered and burnt down on 17 July, which marked the fall of the Bulgarian Empire.

It has three entrances. The main entrance is located in the easternmost side of the hill. The castle complex is located in the center, surrounded by an internal stone wall, two battle towers and two entrances - north and south .It consists of a throne hall, castle church and the king's chamber. The restoration of the fortress Tsarevets began in 1930 and was completed in 1981 in honor of the 1300 anniversary from the establishment of the Bulgarian state. Kings Petar, Asen, Kaloyan and Ivan Asen the second lived there.

Complex ... The whole stronghold is girdled by thick walls (reaching up to 3.6 m) and was served by three gates. The main gate was at the hill's westernmost part, on a narrow rock massif, and featured a draw-bridge. The second gate is 18 m away from the first one and the third one, which existed until 1889, is 45 m further.

The palace is located on the hill's central and plain part, which was a closed complex encircled by a fortified wall, 2 towers and 2 entrances, a main one from the north and one from the south. It featured a throne room, a palace church and a royal residential part and encompassed 4872 sq. m.

On the top of the hill is the patriarchate, a complex with an area of about 3000 sq. m., whose church, built on the grounds of an Early Christian one, was reconstructed in 1981 and painted in 1985. The frescoes inside, painted in a striking modernist style rather than in the style of traditional Orthodox frescoes, depict conventional Christian subjects as well as glorious and tragic moments of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Baldwin's Tower, a modern reconstruction of a medieval tower modeled after the tower in Cherven and built in 1930, is located in the southeastern part of the fortress. It is located at the place of the original medieval tower where Latin Emperor Baldwin I of Constantinople met his death as a prisoner of Kaloyan of Bulgaria.

During the Middle Ages, residential buildings, craftsman's workshops and numerous churches and monasteries were situated on the slopes of the Tsarevets hill. Archaeologists have discovered 400 residential buildings, differentiated in quarters, over 22 churches and 4 monasteries.

Tsarevets hill is also the location of Execution Rock, an outcropping over the Yantra River from which traitors were pushed to their deaths and their bodies fell into the river. There Patriarch Joachim was executed by the Tsar Theodore Svetoslav in the year 1300.


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Gallery - Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo
Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo
Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo
Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets at Veliko Tarnovo

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ]