20 Sozopol sights worth seeing
Sozopol is an old big city in the south-east of the country. According to the classic genre of Bulgarian cities it is divided into two parts: new and old. The sights of Sozopol are mainly concentrated in its old part: there are tombs, ancient temples, remains of the amphitheater and local museums.
And if you’re still at a loss as to what to see in this city during your vacation, we offer you an overview of the top 20 must-see sights.
| Photo: wikimedia
We recommend starting in the old part of the city and walking through the cobblestone streets along the high fences. Architecture lovers will appreciate the two-story buildings of the XVIII-XIX centuries, located along the narrow and cozy alleys.
In 1974 the old part of the city was named an architectural and archaeological reserve. There are 200 rare buildings in the Renaissance style. The foundations are lined with stone and the brick walls are lined with wood. The roofs are covered with high-quality Turkish tiles.
The city is surrounded by a medieval fortress wall with towers, partially restored. There are also an ancient Byzantine granary, a water supply system from the 5th century BC, a wooden well from the IV-III century BC and a chapel from the XIII-XIV centuries.
Address: Sozopol – Old Town, Morski Skali Street, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
St. Ivan Island
One of the biggest Black Sea islands in the country. Its area is about 66 hectares. It is rightfully recognized as a natural and archaeological reserve, so it has been protected by the authorities since 1965.
It is interesting to visit the lighthouse on the island, which guides the ships to the Burgas Bay. In the Middle Ages a tall monastery was built here, which received the status of “royal” in 1308. At one time it was destroyed and rebuilt, then destroyed again by the Ottomans, as evidenced by the ruins. There are also many species of curious birds, including a colony of herring gull.
Archaeological excavations are constantly taking place on the island, which is interesting to watch. The island is open to all comers, but there are no separate excursions. You can get here on your own by boat from the port of Sozopol.
Address: Saint Ivan, Bulgaria.
Church of St. Zosima
The church was built in 1857 on the foundations and ruins of a medieval church. It was named in honor of the martyr who lived in ancient Sozopol, which at that time was called Apollonius. Zosimus is considered the patron saint of the city.
The temple is a single-nave with an altar and an apse built of hewn stones. The main entrance is crowned with an arch decorated with stucco. Inside the chapel is a memorial plaque from the 5th century dedicated to the sailor’s deceased wife. The tombstone is covered with ancient inscriptions and drawings. There are also iconostases from the 19th century in the church, and of particular value is an icon created by the famous local artists Dimitri and Jani.
Address: Church Zosima, Apolonia Street, 8130 Sozopol, Bulgaria.
Church of St. George
The Orthodox church was built in honor of St. George the Victorious in 1860, so the architecture has characteristic Renaissance overtones. Earlier on this place was located an ancient basilica of the IV century.
The church is a brick building with an apse, a wooden porch, and a bell tower. The entrance is crowned with a painting of St. George the Victorious. Inside the church are valuable icons from the 19th century, which gather pilgrims and believers from all over Europe. People come to worship the relics of St. John the Baptist, St. Andrew and part of the Holy Cross.
Address: “St. Martyr George”, Apolonia Street, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
The renowned Archaeological Museum, by order of the Holy Synod, received the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius. The city library is also located in the same building as the museum.
On the territory of the museum there are exhibits, which relate to different periods of the city’s history, from 4,000 years BC to the present day. There are also artifacts related to maritime affairs of ancient times (e.g. anchors and bayonets of II-I centuries BC). The museum is a center of underwater archeology. The history of the city is represented by ancient coins, cultural and household items, antique ceramics and medieval vessels.
Address: Archaeological Museum, site “Khan Krum”, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
Church of the Virgin Mary
This medieval Orthodox church was built in the fifth century on the site of an old temple. It is a three-nave pseudo-basilica with an apse. The building material was hewn stone and wooden supports.
Over the centuries, the building was reconstructed. The interior has preserved a marvelous carved iconostasis with floral ornamentation, the 18th-century bishop’s throne and the pulpit.
In 1927 the church became a site of national historical heritage.
The temple functions to this day – it is the center of Orthodox religion for locals and tourists.
Address: The Holy Virgin Church, Anaksimandar Street, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius
Thinking of what to see in the old part of Sozopol? Pay attention to the Orthodox church dedicated to the Equal Apostles Cyril and Methodius, who, according to legend, are the creators of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabet.
The church was erected in 1889 by the master Usta Gencho for the refugees. It is a single-nave basilica, which is 25 meters long and 13 meters wide. A little later a tall (23 m) bell tower was completed.
Inside the church, there is a beautiful iconostasis of the XVII-XVIII centuries.
After 1944 the church was first a city museum, then a storehouse and was even a museum of underwater archeology. Since 1989 the building was returned to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and after a long reconstruction it was reopened for services.
Address: St. Cyril and Methodius, “Khan Krum” Square, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
The Castle in Ravandino
The Castle in Ravandino.
Do you want to see a real medieval castle? Then go to Sozopol, where the ancient castle with the poetic name “In Love with the Wind” is situated. It belongs to retired policeman Georgi Tumpalov.
The construction of the castle began more than 20 years ago, and Georgi himself mines stone on the nearby mountain Stranja, delivers and lifts it to the top, without using special equipment. According to some reports, the man does not even have an engineering plan for the future construction. Perhaps he does not need one, as Gheorghi has traveled the world for many years and became familiar with the architecture of castles. The man himself claims that when he first arrived at this place in Sozopol he was captivated by the free winds and the beauty of the local landscape and he immediately wanted to build his own castle here.
Address: The Castle of Ravadinovo, Ravadinovo, Bulgaria.
Black Sea Fjords
Fans of natural wonders should go to the south of Sozopol, where the famous Black Sea fjords are located. There are caves in the rocks with their own flavor. Do not forget to bring warm clothes, so as to protect yourself from piercing breezes and cold rooms.
Location: Devetashka Cave, Devetaki, Bulgaria.
The mountain is located not in the town itself, but in the surrounding area and has a second name “Copper Mountain”. It reaches a height of 375 meters, so it is ideal for active hiking and climbing. If you want to climb to the top on foot, you will have to wade through dense thickets of oak forest, so take care of the tight outerwear.
There is also an ancient fortress at the top that tourists love to visit. There is a beautiful panorama of the city and the surrounding area.
Address: Peak Bakarlaka (Copper Reed), Bulgaria.
The Strandzha mountain range.
Another beautiful attraction is just 6 kilometers away from Sozopol. You will find yourself in a resort village, which is stylized as a monastery of the Middle Ages. Hotels and cottages for guests are on every step.
Dyuni has its own beach, which is 4.5 kilometers long and 100 meters wide. The fine golden sand is perfect for resting with children. From time to time small dunes appear here, after which the resort is named. The sea is calm with a flat bottom and the depth increases smoothly, so it is safe to swim here. Lovers of active recreation can do diving, windsurfing, yachting, water skiing, etc. There are also several swimming pools and tennis courts.
There are also wilderness areas with quiet bays and steep cliffs.
Address: Dunes, Bulgaria.
Not all tourists like to relax on local beaches, where there are a lot of people, noisy cafes and callers, and cleanliness leaves much to be desired. At 15 kilometers from the city there are two paradise and very well maintained beaches, each of which is 2 kilometers long. The resort “Primorsko” was even awarded the prestigious award “Blue Flag”.
The southern part with fine golden sand is ideal for sunbathing and swimming. There is also the International Youth Center. The northern part of the beach gathers lovers of active recreation with windsurfing, skiing, parachuting, etc. You can reach the beaches by private car or by a small train from the center of the resort.
Address: Primorsko, Bulgaria.
Beautiful natural landscapes meet you in the area of the Ropotamo river bed. You can wander in the deciduous forest among oaks, willows and beeches, look at the huge water lilies, breathe in the exceptionally fresh air. The yellow water of the Ropotama River itself flows through the Strandzha Mountain, after which it flows into the Black Sea water area.
Around the river valley there are bizarre rocks, among which the locals managed to see the Lion’s Head. This ecologically clean place is situated in 15 kilometers from the city. You can get here by your own car or by bus, or you can rent a boat.
Address: Ropotamo River, Bulgaria
The ancient construction is the center of cultural life of the city. It was built in the II century, but it was found only in 1972 – it was “helped” by a strong landslide. The find was immediately excavated and restored, specialists were able to preserve the ancient atmosphere.
The amphitheater serves as a stage area to this day. Literary evenings, local dance groups, vocalists, and theater troupe perform here on a regular basis. You can also visit modern photography and art exhibitions. Between holidays, the amphitheater holds guided tours for tourists, where everyone can stroll through its expanse.
Address: Amphitheater Sozopol / Amphitheater Sozopol, area “Khan Krum”, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
Golden Fish Beach
Golden Fish beach is located in the north of the city and is 6 kilometers long and up to 60 meters wide. In the peak season it is always crowded with people, as there is a very convenient transport interchange. There is also a great infrastructure for recreation: showers, sun loungers and umbrellas, children’s area and a surfing school. Perhaps the only drawback is paid parking.
Address: Beach “Gold wheelhouse”, Bulgaria.
Central beach. | Photo: www.bdmundo.com / Flickr.
As you can guess, during the season you have to be occupied at dawn, despite the fact that the width of the beach is 600 meters. Although there are a lot of people, but the water is almost always clear. Here you can find everything you need for recreation: marquees and sun loungers, umbrellas, booths, water transport for rent, food courts, a playground and so on.
Address: Sozopol – Central Beach, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
Harmanite is a famous beach with good accessibility from any part of the town. So, if the central beach is crowded, then tourists head here. All the more so because it is 2 times bigger than the central one. There are many restaurants and cafes, excursion points and souvenir shops.
The continuation of Harmanite beach is Budjaka beach with the same infrastructure and landscapes.
Address: Harmanite Beach, 46 Ropotamo Street, 8130 Centrum, Sozopol, Bulgaria
The beach Kavatsite.
The huge sand spit is carefully guarded as there are many private hotels. But there is also a free zone where tourists are camping. Along the beach there is a highway and both free and paid parking lots.
The beach is equipped with showers and sun loungers, water transport rentals, volleyball courts, massage centers, food courts, etc.
Address: Kavatzite-piasachni diuni, Pirin Street, Bansko, Bulgaria.
Chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
The Chapel of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.
The small and neat church was built near the port, so it offers a beautiful view of the water area. Local fishermen and sailors are known to consider St. Nicholas their patron saint, so they initiated the construction of a chapel in his honor.
The room is attached to the archaeological museum. Nearby there are benches for parishioners and tourists, a fountain with drinking water. Directly above the entrance hangs an icon created by famous artist Ivan Bahchevanov.
Address: Kostel St. Nikola the Wonderworker, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
16 interesting sights in the city of Sozopol in Bulgaria
Built by the Greeks in the 6th century B.C. on the shores of the Black Sea, Apollonius was destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. It took five centuries for people to return to these places. In the 6th century came Sozopol, which literally translates as “salvation. The ancient city has many bright sights left from previous generations. Many churches in Bulgaria now do not operate for their intended purpose, but remain sightseeing sites. The unusual architecture, picturesque natural sights and museum displays are worthy of attention and careful study by travelers.
What to see in Sozopol in a day
Spending time on the beach in Sozopol is inevitably replaced by a fascinating tour of the city and its surroundings. In a single day tourists are suggested to visit:
- The old town with its ancient temples and the fortress wall;
- Bakarlyku Mountain overgrown with century-old oaks;
- Black Sea fjords with domed stone vaults;
- Numerous churches with icons dating back to the Middle Ages.
In Sozopol you can nicely combine sightseeing and beach vacation
To fully enjoy the unique nature of the region, you should go to one of the nearby resorts. Which ones? Well, first of all Primorsko. It will not let the young and the elderly get bored. On the beaches of the resort there are comfortable deck chairs and windsurfing boards. It is easy to find something to your liking, and when you get tired, tourists go to try the delights of national cuisine in one of the cozy restaurants.
Secondly, there is Douni, which is no less attractive in terms of beach vacation. In a walk along the coast, tourists will be able to see picturesque bays and enclosed beaches, where they can find peace and quiet, and a break from the noise of the city.
What to see on your own
You can see all the interesting sights in the old city on your own
While the museums and churches are worth seeing with a guide, because they are aesthetically pleasing and offer food for thought, there are other places you can see on your own with a map:
- St. Ivan’s Island, where there is no guided tour, but it is suggested to get there by paddle boat;
- The Castle in Ravadinovo, where a fairy tale comes to life;
- The Amphitheater, especially during performances of classical music or opera stars;
- Mount Bakarlıku or the Black Sea Fjords, suggestive.
Beautiful nature, breathtaking views, rare representatives of flora and fauna living in the reserve, give food for thought and reason for inspiration. If you have time, you can go to the capital of Bulgaria, or visit the coastal cities of Burgas and Nessebar.
The city structures of the former centuries are picturesque and unusual in architecture. From the outside Kurdilis house looks unattractive. The stone foundation and the first floor are continued in a wooden upper annex. The building is left in its original form as when it was built, more than two hundred years ago. The house houses a unique ethnographic museum. Its exposition includes interior items and furniture, clothing and household items. Only one room is devoted to the exhibition, but its viewing expands the knowledge of the history and life of the Bulgarian people. If you cast a glance out the window of the museum, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the sea.
It is interesting to walk past the wall, built in the Middle Ages, even if one does not know its history. In the southern part, the fortification and tower have been restored to preserve one of the important architectural heritage of former times. The open-air museum complex finds its continuation in the museum exhibition. Once tourists have admired the ancient stones and towers to their hearts’ content, they now go and see the exhibits on display. Household items and coins from ancient times evoke interest among visitors. To get complete information about each item, you should use the services of a guide.
Not only Rome can boast ancient amphitheaters in the open air, there is such a sight in Sozopol. It is one of the oldest architectural structures of the city. The amphitheater dates back to the second century. It was discovered in the second half of the 20th century. The layer of land had shifted, there was a landslide, under the layer of soil appeared the ancient wonder. The local authorities were engaged in restoration, freeing the square from dirt and debris. The amphitheater consists of a stage, structures for performers, scenery and stone steps replacing the seating.
During the excavations in the area of the city and beyond, artifacts have been found that depict the life of people in ancient times and in the Middle Ages. The findings were used to compile an exposition of a striking variety. The exposition of the Archaeological Museum introduces visitors to the life and ways of city dwellers in ancient times. The exhibits were found during excavations and have historical value. The uniqueness of the collection lies in the fact that it presents the life of different peoples who had lived in Sozopol and its region.
Church of St. George
By the standards of the old town, the Church of Saint George is relatively new. The Orthodox church was erected in the 19th century. After construction, the church was consecrated in the name of St. George the Victorious. One-story building is crowned by a bell tower with one bell. Surprising is the fact that inside the temple there is an altar made of marble. The shrine is over a thousand years old. The temple keeps the relics of John the Baptist, in front of which you can kneel and pray. The church operates to the present day and welcomes Orthodox believers. Services are held in it, but tourists can also see it as a vivid city landmark.
Church of St. Zosima
A small church is located on Apolonia Street near the park. From the outside it seems squat, but the stucco gives a special flavor. The sanctuary was built on a once-demolished ancient temple. The church was baptized and consecrated in honor of Zosima, who was born and lived on these lands. The interior decoration is distinctive because it is made by hand. The icons date back to the 19th century. They are all handwritten. There are a lot of small icons in the church. The doors of the temple are always open for those who are eager to pray or view the unique decoration.
Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa
One of the oldest temples in the city is surprising to those who see it for the first time from the outside. The walls are very low and the roof almost reaches the ground. The church seems to have sunk into the ground. The stone walls and tiled roof are quite standard for the architecture of an old town. The interior decoration of the temple is impressive. The iconostasis is decorated with the finest carvings, which were made by hand. There are many works of art in the church, which tourists come to see. One shouldn’t forget that icons are placed in the temple. The faithful come to kneel before the saints. Most often they turn to the Mother of God, Jesus and St. Spiridon.
Church of St. Cyril and Methodius
The snow-white elongated church with a high bell tower was built in the 19th century. By city standards, this is fairly recent. Unlike the temples of the Middle Ages, the church is tall and bright. Inside are the relics of John the Baptist, which were found on the island of the same name near the city. The church is decorated with a hand-carved oak iconostasis. On it, there are icons painted back in the Middle Ages. They are true masterpieces and works of art.
Sozopol is a popular resort town, thanks to the three comfortable beaches. Most popular is the central beach. It is equipped with umbrellas and sun loungers, but often crowded with a large number of vacationers. Located central beach between the old and new part of town. The coast is covered with fine sand. The water is very clean and the entrance from the beach is gentle and comfortable. This fact and makes the place popular among holidaymakers. Children and adults enjoy splashing around in the shallow waters.
St. Ivan Island
To see the amazing archaeological and natural reserve, St. Ivan’s Island, it is necessary to rent a boat and cross the strait separating it from the mainland. This piece of land of 60 hectares has been excavated for a long time and as a result artifacts have been found. The most notable find was the relics of John the Baptist. This relic is kept in the temple in Sozopol. Apart from the archaeological interest, the island arouses curiosity as a natural reserve. There are a lot of bird species, picturesque corners, columns of unknown origin, near the coast. There are no excursions to the island, so tourists explore it on their own.
Castle “In love with the wind.
Just a few kilometers from Sozopol is the village of Ravadinovo. The unusual castle resembles a fairy-tale shelter for lovers. The peaked turrets reach up into the sky, and below them wild grapes rise up to the very top, hiding the secrets of the inhabitants. The medieval castle is located on a large area, on the beach and is buried in verdure. You can visit it for money, indulge in walks in the most romantic places, sit near a pond with pigeons or a fountain. On the territory of the castle there is a small zoo, which is open to visitors. In the shady park lovers will find solitude, and tired sightseers will find shade and rest. A café inside the castle walls offers refreshments.
Ropotamo River Mouth
Ten kilometers south of Sozopol, there is a reserve called Ropotamo, named after the river. One thousand hectares of the natural area is considered a landmark in Bulgaria. What a variety of landscapes can not be found in the reserve. It is rich in amazing plants and fauna. Only 70 species of birds, listed in the Red Book, live in the reserve. Noisy green forests alternate with coastal dunes and limans, rocky precipices go steeply into the sea. The stone lion’s head crowns this natural perfection. Wherever you look, there is greenery and spaciousness, where the wind blows freely.
The amazing interweaving of antiquity and modernity, like nowhere else, is felt in Sozopol. The old town is both the residential quarters and officially recognized as an open-air museum. Many buildings were built during Turkish rule. The stone foundations of the residential buildings are topped by a wider wooden superstructure. In narrow places, the second floors almost touch each other. At every step you can see a medieval landmark. At the same time in the Old Town there are excellent cafes with national cuisine and entertainment in the form of discos. There is plenty for tourists to do in between the busy excursions.
If you have a desire to get over the reality, you need to hike to the picturesque Bakarlykoo mountain. It consists of rocky rocks, which creates excellent conditions for mountain climbing. Those who make it to the very top will be rewarded, as it houses a picturesque castle. And the view from the top is spectacular. In the distance you can see the sea, and at the foot there are ancient trees. The mountain is almost 400 meters high. Its slopes are covered with trees and bushes. The century-old oaks rustle with their thick crowns. You can think and admire the view unhindered by their whisper. Not climbers get to the top through the dense forest.
If tourists come to Sozopol for a full beach vacation, it is necessary to visit the resort Dyuni. Magnificent beach stretches for nearly five kilometers, and its width is a hundred meters. The fine yellow sand is well heated, the sea has a gentle descent, so the beach is often seen holidaymakers with children. The village is located on the coast. It is more quiet than Sozopol and disposes to a secluded pastime. There are tennis courts and equipment rentals for water sports. During the season in Dyuni you can meet a lot of windsurfers, who catch a wave and indulge in freedom. During the walk, tourists find hidden corners of the coast, where they arrange wild beaches.
Another resort place is located in Primorsko. It is situated 15 kilometers from Sozopol. The resort has two beaches. The northern one is for swimming and is situated in the southern part of the coast, and the northern one is for water sports. Two kilometers of sandy strip gives holidaymakers both peace and thrill. To tourists do not get tired, at their service small trains, resembling a children’s railroad. Bright and small cars take holidaymakers to the beach. What to do in the fresh air: idly sunbathe or go in search of waves, it depends on the preferences of travelers.