Sozopol is the oldest town on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located in southeastern Bulgaria. It occupies the area of three peninsulas, part of the southern Bulgarian coastline, characterized by gently sloping shores alternating rocky capes with bays covered in fine golden sand. The first settlement in the area of present-day Sozopol dates back to the Bronze Age. Underwater archaeological research reveals ceramic vessels, stone and bone tools, and anchors from the second and first millennia BC – evidence of the existence of a lively city with active seafaring since ancient times.
In 610 BC, Greek settlers from Asia Minor founded the independent city-state of Apollonia Pontica on the present-day Sozopol Peninsula. Apollonia was the largest and wealthiest city on the Black Sea, serving as a center for vibrant trade and art.
The numerous archaeological remains such as fortress walls, tombs, public buildings, and works of art from antiquity and the Middle Ages are a testament to the rich history and culture of the city. Here, you can find the 7th-century Church of St. Mary, which is protected by UNESCO, and the 9th-century chapel of St. Zosim. The architecture of the old part of the city is unique, characterized by steep cobblestone streets and houses in the Renaissance style with stone walls and spacious courtyards. In the old part of Sozopol, the southern fortress wall of the ancient city of Apollonia, which once stood on this site, has been preserved to this day. The fortress was built in the mid-5th century using limestone blocks. The walls were destroyed during the Roman conquest of the city but were later fully restored by local people.
Opposite the old town, three islands are located – St. Kirik, St. Ivan, and St. Petar. On the largest of them, St. Ivan, the most interesting and significant archaeological discovery in the past few years has been made. Under the altar of the ruined basilica from the 5th century, archaeologists found a small box (reliquary) containing particles of the bones of St. John the Baptist, also known as John the Forerunner, who proclaimed the coming of Jesus Christ and later baptized him. The remains of the Saint were located in the altar space of an ancient monastery complex that existed for 12 centuries and was abandoned by the monks in 1620.
The “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” Church in Sozopol is the church that opened its doors after nearly 70 years of oblivion to shelter under its dome a portion of the relics of St. John the Baptist. With this discovery, Sozopol becomes a second Jerusalem and, in addition to being a seaside tourist destination, gains momentum as an attractive pilgrimage center.
Today, Sozopol is a city that combines antiquity and modernity. Summer tourism in the city began back in 1926. Evolving over the years, Sozopol has become a modern tourist destination that attracts numerous visitors from around the world. Guests of the city are enchanted by its ancient history and artistic atmosphere in the old town, as well as the beautiful sandy beaches. Numerous hotels and private apartments provide comfort and convenience for every taste, offering a real relaxing experience. The many restaurants, fast-food establishments, day and night bars, energize visitors with their vibrant ambiance.
The city’s celebration is held on July 17th and is dedicated to its patron saint – St. Marina. As the host of the “Apollonia” Arts Festivals, once a year, the ancient seaside town becomes a magical place filled with artistic spirit and an unforgettable atmosphere.
Sozopol – a name that has rightfully earned one of the top spots in the ranking for the best vacation destination on the Southern Black Sea coast. Not only because of the city itself and the “Apollonia” arts festivals, but primarily due to its beautiful natural landmarks, such as the heavenly corners of the surrounding bays and expansive beaches, remarkable natural and cultural-historical attractions. The city always remains as a wonderful memory in a unique experience.
Nearest major city – Burgas, 22 miles away.
Nearest airport – Burgas Airport, 28 miles away.