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Located 34 kilometers south of Bourgas on a scenic rocky peninsula,
this fishing village/tourist resort/art colony is arguably the most
charming place on the Black Sea coast and one of Bulgaria s crown
jewels. Founded in 610 B.C. by Ionian Greeks from Miletus and named
Apollonia in honor of their most adored god, this was the first
coastal Greek colony to be established. It was a thriving and important
place, trading with parent Miletus, Athens, and the Isle of Rhodes.
The Apollonians acted as middlemen between the Greek world and the
indigenous Thracians from whom they acquired copper, honey, grain,
and wood in exchange for wine, salt, and textiles. The colony reached
its zenith during the 5th century B.C., which coincided with the
height of power of the Thracian Odrisae tribe many of whom gradually
came to achieve rank and status in the Greek state.
in turn founded its own colony of Anchialo (present-day Pomorie) in
order to prevent the powerful rival Dorian colony of Messembria (Nessebur)
from penetrating into Bourgas bay. Apollonia was also an active arts
and cultural center. A temple was built to Apollo, the sun god and
healer, and a ten-meter-high bronze statue of the god, made by the
Greek sculptor Calamis during the 5th century B.C., guarded the harbor.
When Roman legions sacked the town in the first century, the 13- ton
statue was carted off to Rome and displayed on the Capitoline hill
from where it later disappeared into antiquity.
the Romans, Apollonia declined in significance. Its colony Anchialo,
however, became the most important town on the Black Sea. The name
Sozopol first appears as an inscription on a 4th-century Roman column,
probably in connection with the patron Apollo as many ancient Greek
towns called Apollonia later changed their names to Sozopolis (City
of Salvation) when they accepted Christianity.
Sozopol was incorporated into the First Bulgarian Kingdom in 812 under
Khan Krum it developed into a large and wealthy town. The 12th- century
relief icon St George and St Dimitur on Horseback, one of the country
s oldest and most significant, was originally displayed in Sozopol
s St. Bogoroditsa (Holy Virgin) church.
was one of the last holdouts to Ottoman domination, falling in 1453.
Under the Ottomans, who renamed the town Suseboly, numerous churches
and monasteries were razed; only their names remain, gracing the area
s capes and isles (St. Ivan and St. Thomas). The National Revival
period saw the building of typical Black Sea houses; ground floors
of stone generally used for storage supported overhanging upper stories
of wood, with protruding bay windows and sheltered eaves. Clustered
along the narrow peninsula s cobblestone streets and alleys, some
45 houses are classified as cultural monuments.