Old town of Sozopol, Bulgaria

The idyllic harbor town of Sozopol was founded in ancient times and attracts visitors with its historically valuable architecture. Also the beautiful beaches on the Black Sea make Sozopol an attractive destination for Bulgaria vacation.

Sozopol is located on the southern Black Sea coast of Bulgaria about half an hour's drive from Burgas. In favor of the capital Sofia, Plovdiv or Veliko Tarnovo, Sozopol is often overlooked by Bulgaria vacationers interested in history and culture. But this is not the case, because Bulgaria's oldest city bears the traces of the Romans, the Ottomans and the Bulgarians. The old town of Sozopol, which is well worth seeing, is completely protected as a historic monument.


PICTURES: Old town of Sozopol

Photo gallery: Old town of Sozopol

Emergence of Sozopol

Since the end of communism, peace reigns in Sozopol and the town is increasingly discovered by Bulgaria vacationers - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The pretty port city was founded in 610 BC by the Greeks as Apollonia, the Thracians settled in this area already since the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. In 395 AD Apollonia passed to the Romans and also experienced an economic boom thanks to its proximity to Constantinople (today's Istanbul).

Byzantines, Russians, Turks, Bulgarians and pirates fought sometimes fierce battles in the Middle Ages and the following centuries, which cost Sozopol many a monument and caused several waves of refugees. Since the end of communism there is peace in Sozopol and the town is increasingly discovered by Bulgaria vacationers.

Sights in Sozopol

In the side streets of Sozopol, Bulgaria, there are numerous houses with neat wooden cores and lovingly tended gardens - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The historical core of Sozopol spreads over the picturesque peninsula of Skamnij directly on the Black Sea. In the course of time, the tranquil harbor town was subject to numerous different peoples and religions. With its typical wooden facades of the Bulgarian Revival and the traces of the past millennia, the entire old town of Sozopol is a protected monument.

Black Sea Architecture

Sozopol on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast is home to around 180 of the typical Black Sea houses - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Similar to the city of Plovdiv in the center of Bulgaria, the so-called "Houses of the Bulgarian Revival" are particularly striking in Sozopol. About 180 of the typical Black Sea houses can be found here, which makes Sozopol a real museum town.

The magnificent burgher houses date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and are partly used as museums or restaurants, partly still as homes. Among the most beautiful examples are the houses of Marieta Stefanova, Kreanoolu, Todor Zagorov, Kurtidi and Dimitri Laskaridis.

Apolonija shopping street

On a small square on the Apolonija shopping street, ruins remind us of Sozopol in Roman times, Bulgaria - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The shopping street Apolonija still reminds of the Greek name of Sozopol and is lined with many houses with the typical wooden facade of the Black Sea architecture. Also in the winding alleys that branch off from the main street, there are numerous houses with neat wooden cores and lovingly tended gardens. On a small square on the commercial street Apolonija, ruins remind us of Sozopol in Roman times.


Sozopol city wall

Also historically valuable are the ruins of the fortification walls in the south and southeast of Sozopol. They date from the 5th and 6th centuries and some of them have been impressively restored. A small museum has been established in the three-story fortified tower on Milet Street, which exhibits finds from the restoration and provides information about the history of the Sozopol fortifications.

Churches in Sozopol

Of the once more than 30 churches in Sozopol, only 4 remained after the Turkish rule on the coast of Bulgaria - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Of the once more than 30 churches of Sozopol, all were destroyed during the Turkish rule. The present four churches of St. Mother of God (17th century), St. Sosim (1857), Sveti Georgi (1860) and Kyril and Methodius (1888) developed from small chapels that were rebuilt after the Ottomans left.

  • The Church of St. George is the largest church in the city and is worth seeing for its wood-carved pulpit and Byzantine-style icons.
  • In the Mother of God Church there is an iconostasis from the late 18th century, which was declared a national cultural monument.
  • In the church of St. Cyril and Methodius rest the bones of St. John the Baptist, which were found in 2010 during excavations on the island of "St. Ivan". Their identity was confirmed by experts in Oxford and Sozopol became an important pilgrimage destination.
  • The stone church of St. Sosim is located in the sea garden and houses icons from the 19th century. To the right of the entrance in the west facade, in the wall there is a grave letter from the 5th century.

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum in Chan Krum Street is on the list of the 100 national tourist objects of Bulgaria. The exhibits, dating from the 5th millennium B.C. to the 17th century, contain numerous testimonies of ancient and medieval crafts and are mostly from the seabed. In the Center for Underwater Archaeology, the urban history of Sozopol is still being researched.

Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum of Sozopol is located in a typical Black Sea house in St. Kiril and Metodij Street. Art and household objects, jewelry and textiles give an interesting impression of life in Bulgaria in the 19th century. The traditional costumes of the Rupzi, Tronks and Sagorzi from the Strandzha Mountains are also represented in the Ethnographic Museum.

Art Gallery of Sozopol

As the "city of painters and fishermen", Sozopol cannot be without an art gallery. The gallery, opened in 1991 in a former Greek school, is also located in St. Kiril and Metodij Street. It shows mainly Bulgarian works with maritime themes, but international artists are also represented.

Besides exhibitions, the art gallery also hosts concerts and other cultural events, especially during the Apollonia Art Festival at the beginning of September.

Tip: If you are interested in Aleksander Mutafov 's works in detail, Lasuren Briag Street is the right place. Here is the studio of the founder of Bulgarian maritime painting, which is open to visitors.

Sozopol beach vacation

The main beach of Sozopol on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria connects the historic old town with the modern part of the city - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Who wants to swim in Bulgaria at the Black Sea, thinks primarily of the famous Gold Coast north of Varna. But there are also fantastic beaches in the south of the country - especially around the idyllic harbor town of Sozopol!

Not as crowded as the peninsula of Nessebar, the beaches of Sozopol are still wonderfully quiet and idyllic. In the picturesque harbor, colorful fishing boats rock, delivering their catch every day to the surrounding markets and restaurants.

  • The main beach of Sozopol connects the historical old town with the modern part of the town, where hotels and restaurant provide a pleasant vacation in Sozopol.
  • Water sports enthusiasts will feel at home on Kavatsite beach, 4km away, which has a campsite attached.
  • Tsarevo is even quieter and can be reached by car in half an hour via the coastal road, which is also worth seeing. Located in the middle of the Ropotamo nature reserve, Arkutino is one of the most beautiful beaches in Bulgaria.