The City of Salvation – 25 Reasons to Fall in Love with Sozopol


  • Sozopol is the oldest and most visited city on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Tourists from all over the world come here because of its past, the temptations of summer adventures, and love for art. For some, it’s a second home, while for others, it’s simply a place for a family vacation. The summers here are long and warm.
  • Sozopol is located in the southern part of the Burgas Bay on several small peninsulas. It is about 35 km from Burgas and about 400 km from Sofia. The city is divided into Old and New, with a park located between them.
  • The history of Sozopol is rich, interesting, and ancient. The first settlements here emerged at the end of the 6th millennium BC. Over the centuries, the city has been known by names such as Antea, Apollonia Pontica, Sozopolis (City of Salvation), and after Bulgaria’s liberation – Sozopol.
  • Since its foundation, the city has been an important commercial and port center. From the end of the 6th century BC, Apollonia began minting its own coins. They depicted an anchor, which still remains a symbol of the city today.
  • In the early 5th century BC, there a large temple of the god Apollo here. It is said that it was probably located on the nearby island of St. Kirik, and it housed a 13-meter statue of Apollo. When the city was conquered by the Romans, this statue was transferred to the Capitoline Hill in Rome.
  • Ancient Apollonia is one of the first places in the Balkan Peninsula where Christianity penetrated.
  • In 812 AD, during the rule of the Bulgarian Khan Krum, Sozopol became part of Bulgaria, but like the other Black Sea cities, it was often captured and then reconquered. After the liberation from Turkish slavery, the city became a major fishing center and began to take shape to become what we see it as today.
  • In 1965, the Old Town of Sozopol was declared an architectural-historical reserve. This place hides remnants of fortress walls, numerous artifacts, churches, and more than 180 Renaissance houses. Here you will see ancient icons and magnificent wood-carved iconostases.
  • In 1904, the first archaeological excavations began in Old Sozopol. At that time, a French team led by the consul of France in Plovdiv decided to search for ancient Apollonia Pontica. The discovered artifacts were handed over to the Louvre Museum.
  • Here you can see fragments of the relics of Saint John the Baptist. They were found during excavations of the medieval monastery “St. John the Baptist” on the nearby island of St. Ivan. They are kept in the church of “Sts. Cyril and Methodius.”
  • In the largest church, “St. George the Victorious,” in the city, particles of the Holy Cross and part of the relics of Saint Andrew are preserved.
  • Don’t miss seeing the church “St. Mary” (15th century), which is under the protection of UNESCO. It is deeply embedded in the ground, on the foundations of an earlier medieval temple. Another church that attracts tourists is “St. Zosim” (1857) – located in the City Park, on the foundations of an earlier medieval temple.
  • Visit the Archaeological Museum in Old Sozopol. The collection of 120 amphorae is also of interest. Also, visit the Architectural-Historical Complex “Southern Fortress Wall and Tower,” the Art Gallery, and the Ethnographic Museum.
  • You haven’t been to Sozopol if you haven’t walked under the countless fig trees and haven’t bought the famous Sozopol fig jam.
  • You haven’t been to the Old Town if you haven’t stayed in the evening around the traces of fortress walls and haven’t looked at the lights of the New Town, the ships in the sea all the way to the bright colors of Sunny Beach. There are plenty of cozy restaurants and traditional Bulgarian taverns. There is food for every taste. But try the fresh red mullet, mackerel, and small fried fish. You can also watch outdoor cinema.
  • At the entrance to Old Sozopol, there is a harbor and establishments ready to welcome young and old lovers of different styles of music. Right here is the Summer Theater. In the summer, there are many concerts and performances here. But most importantly, this is the place of “Apollonia.”
  • If you love art in all its forms, Sozopol is your place. For years, at the end of the summer, the city hosts the Apollonia Arts Festival. Over the course of ten days, there are many concerts, theatrical performances, film screenings, book presentations, and exhibitions. The city also hosts a variety of other festivals and workshops.
  • If you enjoy seaside walks, you can explore the city and the islands around it by boat. There are daily mini cruises, with the evening ones being more romantic and preferred by tourists. Three of the islands are visible from the mainland.
  • St. Ivan Island is the largest Bulgarian Black Sea island. It is located less than a kilometer in a straight line from the Old Town. The place is extremely rich in history, with discoveries such as a Thracian sanctuary and even a Russian military cemetery. The island has served as a landmark for sailors since ancient times. The island is home to the largest colony of Mediterranean yellow-legged gulls in Bulgaria. Every year, between April and July, over 500 pairs nest there. There are no organized tourist visits to the island, but it is accessible. To visit, you need to arrange with one of the local owners of fishing boats. Another island nearby is St. Peter Island. It is presumed that in the past, the two islands were connected.
  • Closest to the city is St. Kirik and Yulita Island. It is believed that this was the oldest city in Bulgaria and the urban core of Apollonia. Access to it is prohibited. In the past, there was a naval base here. It is connected to the mainland by a breakwater.
  • With a boat, you can also visit St. Thomas Island or Snake Island. It is claimed that the island was an artificially created megalithic sanctuary used by an ancient people as a cult site. It is north of the mouth of the Ropotamo River. It is called Snake Island because of the many gray water snakes that inhabit it. It is the only place in Bulgaria where wild cacti grow. Their fruits are the size of a plum, with a strawberry scent, and are known as prickly pears. Before the advent of antibiotics and vaccines, this fruit was used to treat viral infections. In spring, the island becomes a real bird kingdom during the mass migration along Via Pontica.
  • The Ropotamo River valley is also unique, known for its long forests. The numerous lianas descending over the river create a unique atmosphere. One can feel like in the jungle while riding a tourist boat. But if you wish, you can also walk to where the river flows into the sea. Along the way, you can see the largest dune on the Balkan Peninsula. It is 55 meters high.
  • Sozopol offers many opportunities for entertainment – you can go diving, cliff jumping. If you decide to dive, there are special centers for this purpose. You can explore the petrified trees or the so-called Underwater Forest. It is meters away from St. Ivan Island. Here, there are hundreds of stone trunks with diameters of several meters. Near Sozopol, there are also many sunken ships that tempt underwater enthusiasts. In several places, enthusiasts of strong sensations can give themselves a dose of adrenaline by jumping into the sea from the cliffs at the end of the town. Another place for jumps is located at Cape Agalina. The place is south of the town, near Duni resort. Here, there is a rocky phenomenon similar to a fjord. Nearby is German Bay; jumping from here is quite dangerous and requires more attention and preparation.
  • If you want to be in Sozopol but not entirely, you can stay in one of the campsites around the city. Most have a shared beach area.
  • If you think you’ve seen and experienced everything in Sozopol, you might have missed that here in the Old Town, in 2012, a temple was discovered where traces of rituals against vampirism, practiced by Christians in the Middle Ages, were found. Bulgaria has other such finds, but this one quickly attracts tourists – lovers of mysticism.

In conclusion, Sozopol stands as a testament to Bulgaria’s rich history, captivating natural beauty, and vibrant cultural heritage. From its ancient origins to its modern-day allure, this coastal gem offers something for every traveler, whether it’s exploring archaeological wonders, indulging in culinary delights, or simply basking in the sun on its picturesque beaches. Start planning your unforgettable Sozopol escape today!

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