Nestled on a breathtaking peninsula in southeastern Bulgaria, Sozopol offers an enticing summer retreat for locals and tourists. Its quaint, cobbled streets and centuries-old history make it the oldest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline.
Sozopol’s Rich History
Sozopol’s story stretches back to the IV-III BC era. Early settlers were skilled in various trades, including fishing, farming, cattle breeding, and metallurgy. Underwater excavations have unearthed fascinating remnants of houses, pottery, and tools, a testament to the city’s vibrant Early Bronze Age and Bronze Age periods. The II-I BC era saw the settlement thrive under the Thracian tribes (Skyrmiads and Nipseis), known for their mining and trading prowess.
The Rise of Apollonia Pontica
Greek settlers from Miletus and Phocaea founded Anthea on the Southern Black Sea coast in 610 BC. The location’s well-protected port made it an ideal choice. The colony flourished, evolving into a bustling city-state called Apollonia Pontica. This city, rebuilt in the 4th century, emerged as a significant commercial and cultural hub.
From Bulgarian State to Ottoman Rule
During the 8th-9th centuries, Sozopol became part of the Bulgarian state, holding the position of the primary Bulgarian port on the Black Sea. However, in 1453, the city fell under Ottoman rule. This event led to the destruction of Christian churches and the construction of small chapels. Despite these hardships, Sozopol’s architectural style significantly developed during the Renaissance period.
Modern Sozopol: A Blend of Sea, Nature, and History
Today, Sozopol stands proudly as one of the 100 national tourist sites. It offers visitors an enchanting blend of sea, nature, and history, making it an irresistible destination for any traveler.
Rediscovering Apollonia Pontica
The founding of Apollonia Pontica marked a significant milestone. Named after Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, light, and arts, the city owed its foundation to Anaximander, a celebrated Hellenic natural philosopher. Apollonia Pontica gained recognition in the ancient world for its thriving trade between Ancient Thrace and Hellas, owing to the rich ore deposits of Strandja, naturally sheltered harbors, and the saltworks of Anchialo.
The Fortification of Sozopolis
In the later half of the 4th to 5th centuries, Sozopol became an important administrative and episcopal center, boasting many Christian churches. The city erected impressive fortifications to guard against barbarian invasions in the 5th to 6th centuries. These ruins, comprising two-tiered fortress walls and towers, still stand in the southern and southeastern parts of the Sozopol peninsula today.
End of Ottoman Rule and Liberation
After five centuries of Ottoman rule, Sozopol’s liberation came with the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. After the war, Sozopol’s citizens took part in the struggle for the liberation of Strandzha, participating in the Preobrazhensky Uprising of 1903.
Embrace the Charm of Sozopol Today
Sozopol today is a vibrant tourist town. It harmoniously blends natural beauty, ancient history, and stunning architecture. With cultural traditions preserved and developed over thousands of years, Sozopol offers a unique artistic ambiance that seamlessly blends the southern sea’s charm with the allure of the thousand-year-old city. Sozopol is destined to remain as the “Eternal City of Bulgaria.