Bourgas is the southern biggest coastal town of Bulgaria. Bourgas and settlements within the municipalities of Sozopol, Nessebar and Pomorie witnessed life of Thracian population, second half of the VI century B.C. Greek name of the city Pirgos was later on turned in Latin word Burgos, which means the Tower.
Going to the South of Bourgas, one can reach the Park Otmanli, and the most attractive is the isle of St Anastasia located in the Bourgas Bay near the cape Atia. A world-preserved area is the Atanasovsko Lake, the site Poda hosting unique water birds and nest colonies, while the area of Lake Vaya consists of a rich plant and animal life (the lake is surrounded by a ring of reed growth which forms in the westernmost part a very large bed).
The River Ropotamo The mouth of the Ropotamo river is situated in the middle of the coast line stretching between the holiday city of Duni and the town of Primorsko, about 45km to the south of Bourgas. It originates from springs located some 50 kilometres to the west in the Strandza Mountains. The mouth of the river is some 30 meters wide and is a favourite place of local fishermen. The river is named after the Greek goddess of ‘Ro’, meaning ‘Run’ (Potamo meaning in turn “River’). The legend tells that the Goddess was so charming and sang so beautifully that she managed to talk in pirates to leave the area in peace.
The River is famous for its tender water lilies. A boat trip down the river or a walk along its banks is an unforgettable experience. Tour boats sail down the lower section of the river.
The Art Gallery of Bourgas is located in the former Jewish synagogue, a remarkable architectural monument built in the period from 1905 to 1910 by Ricardo Toscani, an Italian architect. It was originally founded in 1945 with the joint participation of prominent public figures, artists and artistic circles. The Picture Gallery and Museum was ceremoniously opened in the Stock Exchange Hall of the Chamber of Commerce on April 7th, 1947. At that time the inventory of the Gallery comprised 58 paintings and 6 sculptures. In the years that followed, the number of art objects increased considerably from numerous individual and joint exhibitions. From September 1966 on, the Art Gallery was permanently set up in the building of the Jewish synagogue, which had been specifically refurbished for that purpose.
Ethnographic Exposition on 69 Slavyanska St., occupies a beautiful house from the middle of the 19th century, next to the cathedral St st Cyril and Methodus and the artefacts on display illustrate the occupations of the local population, its way of life, houses and household goods, its festivals and customs. Here the visitors can see the most-attractive collection of Bulgarian Traditional costumes off all ethnographic groups in Bourgas region, including these of the Bulgarian fugitives from the lands of nowadays Greece and Turkey.
Here are also displayed unique ritual costumes from the 19th century, illustrating various rites and celebrations, typical for Bourgas region only: a ritual costume of Nestinarka (Nestinarsko, a ritual that was held on St Helena’s and Constantine’s Day (June 3rd) in a village of the Strandza mountains, involved a woman, the nestinarka, walking on hot coals), Enyov’s bride (A summer maiden’s ritual performed on the 24th June, when the birth of John the Baptist is celebrated. Enyov’s bride is dressed in bridal red garment and carries a wreath of flowers and herbs, picked up on the eve before Enyov day), Lazarka (In Bulgaria, St Lazarus’ Day (Lazaruvane) takes place a week before Orthodox Easter. On that day, the young girls go to each house in the village singing and dancing), Bulgarian wedding.
Messembria, Apollonia, Paleokastro and Anhialo are the names of the most famous ancient towns that boosted flourishing trading with fish, ceramics, salt and wine production. There are numerous finding witnessing the history back to the times of Doric and Ionic people, 4th century B.C.
Today the town of Pomorie, situated 18km from Bourgas on a narrow and rocky peninsula, is bordered by the sea on one side and by the Pomorie Lake. The town is widely known as a salt-mining centre and also for its kinds of Cognac.
Besides its lovely beaches in Pomorie and the nearest village of Sarafovo, the town appeals to tourists with its mud-cure sanatorium built about 2km away from the town on the banks of the Pomorie Lake. The curative features of the lake’s mud were discovered already in the 3-4th century BC, though the first mud-cure establishment was built here in 1902. The mud eases bone and muscular disorders, rheumatism, sciatica, lumbago, discal hernia, etc.
The Transfiguration Church is valuable for its wood-carved iconostasis while a stone bas-relief of St. George is preserved in the St. George the Victorious Monastery of Pomorie – it is built in 17 century. A domed tomb-mausoleum (3rd-4th century) built for a high-ranking Thracian, is set in the area of Kouhata Mogila, Europa Camping. It is interesting for its construction, as it consists of a tunnel leading to round camera.
Sozopol posses a history of over 2 millenniums and is situated on a picturesque peninsula. After the presence of the Thracians, there settled immigrants from the rich city of Millet, a Southern Greek centre, thus it was turned into a rich Hellenic colony and granted a status of an independent city-state Apollonia-Pontica.
Artefacts were made from gold, silver, bronze and marble, coins were minted. Sozopol was especially renowned for the temple of Apollo the Healer, whose bronze statue, 13 m high, was a work of the Athenian sculptor Calamis. The town was destroyed in 72 B.C. by the Roman legions of Marcus Loculus. A local museum displays the life of the different people and one can also tour the castle walls from Thracian times, defensive constructions and public spaces from the Hellenistic period.
The churches built in early Byzantine period and during the middle Ages display the traditions and craftsmanship of the artisans and icon-painters.
Except antiquity and Middle Ages artefacts, the town of Sozopol hosts some of the typical 19-century stone and wooden houses.
Against the peninsula is the isle of St John hosting the monastery St. John the Forerunner, a former spiritual and literary centre.
Nessebar is situated on a peninsula and connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The local museum takes visitors to Thracian times, defensive structures, private and public buildings from the Hellenistic period, medieval churches and renaissance buildings. It used to be a commercial centre as a variety of goods from the Aegean and the Mediterranean regions and it also minted its own coins in the 5th century BC. Two centuries later, there it founded its own colony called Navlohos near today’s town of Obzor. The second colony was named Anhialo (Pomorie).
During the reign of Ivan Alexander, a Bulgarian king, the town boosted a cultural and economic boom, and that time most of the churches were erected (The Old Bishop’s Residence located in the centre of the town is the most impressive one, its three naves were decorated with a colonnade and arches, St. Ivan the Baptist Church is a typical cross-domed church with three naves, and four columns supporting the dome, The St. Stefan Church is famous for its facade ornamented with built-in glazed ceramic figures of different colours and tiles, The St. Theodore Church attracts for its original facades and The St. John Aliturgetos is considered the most beautiful one).
There are also remains of fortress walls, authentic medieval, Roman and Greek street pavements, fortifications of different epochs, administrative and other buildings and typical houses in a unique style of 16-19 century – the houses of Diamanti, that of Panayot Mouskoyani hosting an ethnographic exhibition. The old quarters of Nessebar show remarkable taste and masterpieces in the construction of houses, stonewalls, and streets.