Monday, 27 June 2011

The 7 day circuit to Bulgaria - Day Two (Nessebar) - the 13th of June 2011

Our second day was spent travelling eastwards, so as to be able to visit Nessebar. I must confess I was impressed to see huge stretches of cultivated land, as well as farmers selling their vegetables and fruit on both sides of the road all the way there.

On the way to Nessebar

Often referred to in several books as being "the pearl of the Black Sea", Nessebar bears clear evidence of having been occupied by a wide variety of different civilizations (reinforced by historical accounts) and is said to be the town with the highest number of churches per capita.

We were shown quite a few of these old churches whilst wandering about the town, though we didn't visit the interior of any (which some of us felt might have been interesting). Amongst these were  the 13th - 14th century Church of Christ Pantocrator, which was designed in late Byzantine cross-in-square style. Constructed from stones and brickwork (known as opus mixtum construction) it has amazing decorations in its exterior walls.

Church of Christ Pantocrator

The cruciform Church of St. John the Baptist dating from the 11th century was the one we visited afterwards, followed by St. Stephen Church, also dating from the 11th century.

St. John the Baptist Church (left) and St. Stephen Church (right).

Our visit to the old town ended with the 13th - 14th century Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel and finally the old Bishopric, constructed in the late 5th and early 6th century and best known as Saint Sofia Church.

The opus mixum technique (interchanging straight rows of brickwork and stones arranged in chequered patterns) seems to have bees excelled in the case of the Church of the Holy Archangels, and since 1927 has been under state protection, because of being a "national antiquity". Regarding Saint Sofia Church it should be said that in 1257 it was looted by Venetians, who took many of its religious relics, (which can now be found in the church of San Salvatore in Venice), in what is said to have been an unprecedented campaign against the Bulgarian Empire.

The Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel Church (left) and Saint Sofia Church (right).

(to be continued)

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