Sozopol - The Town Of Salvation

The  Old  Apollonia

History has not preserved the name of this Thracian settlement in whose place Miletian Greeks founded the town of Apollonia in 610 B.C. After another 10 centuries it became known as Sozopol“The Town of Salvation”. Apollonia, a fortified and wealthy independent town boasting its own army and fleet, was completely destroyed by the legions of Marcus Lucullus in 72 b.c. The town's pride - a 13 m high bronze statue of Apollo rising in his imposing temple, is assumed by some to have been taken to Rome by the Roman conquerors.

During the Middle Ages Sozopol was part of both Byzantium and Bulgaria, until the whole Balkan Peninsula was subjected to Ottoman rule. Reduced to an ordinary fishing town, Sozopol was revived together with the other settlements in the Bulgarian lands towards the end of the 18th and the start of the 19th century. This is when several churches were restructured - St. George, St. Mary, St. John the Theologian, St. Zossim; the Sts. Cyril and Methodius church was erected and over 150 houses restored.

Three different methods of construction are visible in the St. Mary's church, corresponding to the three stages of its erection. The eastern, altar wall is made of stone, up to 3 m thick, containing the apse and the two transepts (probably built in the 16th c.). The central part, faced with oak on the outside, dates from the 18th century, while the western part and narthex were added during the 19th century. Partly dug into the ground, the church surprises with its spacious interior. An unknown master of the Samokov School made pulpit and bishop’s throne the exquisitely carved altar.

Sozopol's housing architecture from the National Revival period closely resembles that of Nessebur. It falls into the category of the so-called "Black Sea house" featuring stonewalled basements, wooden staircases leading up to the living quarters, wooden scaffoldings, jutting eaves, and exterior wood paneling to protect the building from the salty sea air. The southern vegetation like fig trees and vineyards form part of Sozopol's landscape.

The A. Trendafilova House with its wooden facings modeled on the classical forms of Dorian pilasters, with its triangular gable and stylized sun, is certainly worth seeing. The ceiling in one of the rooms is composed of multi-figural timber pieces, painted in different colours.

Everything in Sozopol today is sunny, bright and attractive - starting with the cobbles tone lanes and old houses with strings of fish hanging from the roof, and ending with the southern drawl of the fishermen who fondly call their white boats "ships".

The Apollonia Festival of the Arts staged here every 1st to 10th September gathers painters and actors, singers and musicians, poets and dancers to a ten-day world of art come alive amidst the old houses of this southern small town.