What is interesting to see in Sozopol?
Because of the numerous cultural landmarks located in the Old Town, Sozopol has been designated as an architectural and archaeological reserve. Many of the historic houses were built in the late 19th and early 20th century on two to three floors. The ground floor and foundations were made of stone and housed the animals and the farming equipment while the top floors were habitable. The outside walls on the top floors are encased in a typical wooden lining, which protects them from the salty air and creates a characteristic street ambiance. The roofs were typically covered with clay tiles. In the Old Town you can find the ruins of several medieval churches, such as the church at the monastery “St. Apostles”, the monastery “St. Nikolay the Wonderworker” and others. There are about 20 other smaller chapels, such as the churches “St. Virgin Mary”, “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” and “St. George”, which house well-preserved icons and carvings. The Art Gallery, the Ethnographic Museum and the Museum at the Fortress Wall are also located in the old part of the Sozopol and open for visits.
The Medieval monastery “St. Nikolay the Miracleworker”
The monastery was discovered in October 2011 during archaeological excavations between the church “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” and the southern gate of The Old town. Historians have established that the monastery has been a regional spiritual center since the dawn of Christianity. The Monastery Church, a three-nave basilica, was built in the Middle Ages on top of a single-crowned early Christian temple from V-VI century A.C. Archaeological work uncovered three Emperor’s stamps related to Emperor Vasilius II the Bulgarian-Killer and to Empress Theodora, which suggests that this church was under the patronage of Byzantium. Another great discovery was made in 2012 when the remnants of St. Nicholas Mirlikiiski were found in the central part of the church. They were stored in a covered clay pot placed in a small brick niche. The pot contained an emulsion and dust believed to be from Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. The form of the finding is characteristic of the early Christian era.
The Monastery “St. Apostles”
The monastery was discovered at the beginning of 2011 following the appearance of fortress facilities above the surface of the terrain. Subsequent excavations revealed a large corner tower from the fortification system of Medieval Sozopol believed to be part of the so-called fortress – “Castrum Domini”. The monastery temple found there is a large three-nave basilica with a length of 23 m and a width of 11.50 m, with walls preserved up to 1m tall. It was built at the end of 12th – beginning of the 13th century and was functioning at least until the 15th century. The church had three entrances on the western façade and one on the north and the south façade. The space of the building is organized in an outer and inner narthex, a three-nave naos with colonnades separating the ships and a tri-apse altar. On the northern side a water reservoir cut into the rock was discovered, which predates the church. The church was built with material from older church buildings. Parts of the original flooring consisting of multicolored marble slabs is still preserved.
The South Fortress Wall and Tower
The South Fortress Wall and Tower complex is located midway on the above-sea promenade in the southern part of the Old Town. The remains of the ancient city’s fortress can be seen, which include a well-preserved section of the southeastern fortress wall, a rectangular guard tower and a grain storage facility. Above it were the barracks in which the guards of the fortified towers lived. An ancient well built in IV-III century BC can also be found here, in which tourists can toss a coin for good luck.
Island “St. Ivan” and monastery “Saint John Prodrom”
The biggest island on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is St. Ivan. The island’s coast sits 910m from the northernmost point of the Stolets Peninsula in Old Sozopol and its highest point rises 33 m above sea level. A sonar lighthouse on the island directs ships to the Bourgas Bay. A large cult complex was discovered on the southern coast of the island by a team from the National Museum of History. Its most ancient part is a Thracian sanctuary from VII-IV BC. After the establishment of Christianity in Byzantium the Basilica of St. Bogorodica Kaleosa was built on the ruins of this ancient pagan temple, sometime at the end of the IV-beginning of V century. The Basilica was abandoned during the first half of the IX-th century and was reduced to ruins. In the first half of the X-th century, the church was restored and adorned with marble cornices, capitals and a magnificent altar barrier in the style of Preslav’s capital city architecture. In 1352 and 1366 the monastery was robbed by the Genoese and the knights of Amadeus Savoyski. The monastery “St. John” had a fortified stone wall, the outline of which had a four-pointed shape. The main monastery temple was built on the most prominent place in the northeastern corner of the yard on a small terrace. The composition of the building is quite original, having a three-legged, one-nave dome with a narrow cross. One of the biggest events in the history of the Saint John Prodrom Monastery took place on July 28, 2010, when the leader of an archeological expedition on the island, Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov, discovered the relics of St. John the Baptist in the altar part of the early Christian basilica. It is believed that the bones were transported in the IV century to the island and the monastery by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The relics are currently kept in Sozopol’s “St. George” church and are displayed for worship every Sunday.
Discover Sozopol by boat
Enjoy an unforgettable day at sea by renting a motorboat or sailing yacht, by yourself or with a group of friends, or enjoy some romantic time just with your loved one. Round-trip cruises of Sozopol at sunset are also offered daily, taking you around the old town and near the islands of “St. Kirik and Julita”,”St. Ivan” and “St. Peter”. The tours are about 60 minutes and start from the fishing port. The views from sea of the Old and New Sozopol are unforgettable amidst the surrounding mountains. The sunset viewed from the ship’s deck is fantastic!
Sand Lily Reserve
The reserve houses the largest occurrence of sand lily in Bulgaria. This plant is of great interest to tourists and lovers of nature, combining a gentle flower with beautiful aroma. It is also referred locally as “Sand Cream” and “Fairy of the sands”. Due to its habitat and rare beauty, it is sometimes called “the queen of the sands” and “the flower of the dunes”. Unfortunately, sand lily numbers are decreasing and in order to preserve the remaining plants it has been protected since 1961. The sandy lily blooms in July and August, its colors are snow-white and gentle, inspiring admiration.
If you like water adventures or are vacationing with kids, you can visit the Neptun Aquapark, which is located 3 km from Sozopol, near the village of Ravadinovo. The park is developed on 50 000 sq. m of land and offers numerous water slides, several restaurants, and other attractions. In addition to the water activities there is mini football, trampoline, full-day animation for children and adults, photo services, mini market and free internet on its territory. The park is open for visitors every day from 10:00 until 18:30.