History of Sozopol

Sozopol – one of the oldest and most beautiful Bulgarian cities – has been known since 610 BC, when Greeks from the cities of Miletus and Phocaea settled here and founded the city of Apollonia Pontica. Over the next few centuries, Apollonia made the largest contribution to the interesting history along the Western Black Sea coast. The city thrived in trade and craftsmanship with the Thracians, becoming a center for economic exchange in the southeastern Balkan Peninsula. Besides being a leading trading center for the region, Apollonia Pontica was also a major cultural hub, which is why the city is often referred to as Apollonia Magna or Great Apollonia.

Following centuries of wars with Mesembria, founded in 510 BC, present-day Nesebar, Apollonia, the city on the western coast of the Black Sea, began minting coins – obols, drachmas, and tetradrachms – starting from 520 BC. The symbol on the coins and the emblem of Sozopol is the anchor, further evidence of the importance of trade and the port.

During the tragic year of 72 BC, the Roman general Marcus Lucullus conquered the lands of present-day Burgas Province, and Apollonia was plundered and burned to the ground. Later, the city was rebuilt but never regained its former glory. Its next name, known since 431 AD, was Sozopolis, which translates to “City of Salvation.” After the establishment of the Bulgarian state by Khan Asparuh in 681 AD, Sozopol became part of Bulgaria. However, like many border settlements, it often changed hands between Bulgaria and Byzantium. Sozopol came under Turkish rule from April 1453. Turkish documents from the 18th-19th centuries note that Sozopol was a large Christian city with around 5,000 inhabitants, ranking third in size after Varna and Anchialos. During the liberation of Bulgaria in 1877-78, Sozopol had about 4,400 residents, primarily engaged in fishing.