2. Historical and scientific review

The present historical and scientific overview is a concise systematisation of the knowledge for the development of the peninsula, accumulated in the published studies on it so far. The overview does not aim at launching opinions on disputable issues or to defend scientific hypotheses – its aim is to serve as a basis for the analysis and evaluation of the current state of “The Ancient City of Nessebar” and hence – to determine the guidelines for its further development. In the text below are taken into account some useful remarks and recommendations made in the course of the Public Discussion.

The historical evolution of Nessebar during the key historical periods is studied:

  • The Thracian “bria” (until 6th c. B.C.);
  • Antiquity (5th c. B.C.- 4th c. A.D.);
  • Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages (5-9 c.);
  • The Middle Ages (9th-14th c.);
  • Within the Ottoman Empire (1453-1878);
  • Third Bulgarian state from the Liberation until the end of World War II (1878-1945);
  • People’s Republic of Bulgaria (1946-1989).

This evolution is illustrated by historical schemes specially designed for the purpose.

Four key typological groups of immovable heritage sites from various periods are examined, formed as a result of the centuries-long historical development and exhibiting the unique historical stratification in “The Ancient City of Nessebar”.

  • Archaeological heritage sites: the fortification system and archaeological structures – from the most ancient Thracian period, the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages until the last consolidations of the fortification walls during the Ottoman domination;

  • churches: Early-Christian basilicas, Medieval churches, National Revival period (and after the Liberation) churches, presenting the Christian ecclesiastical construction, executed in the course of almost fifteen centuries in Nessebar – from the 5th c. until the end of the 19th c.;

  • examples of vernacular architecture – National Revival structures: quarters with irregular forms, composed of two-storey Nessebar houses with yards, and narrow, meandering streets with specific look – stone construction of the ground floors and overhanging floors with timber siding;

  • buildings from the period after the Liberation and from the modern times – most of them with public functions; some of them are stylistically related to vernacular architecture, others – to Modernism and Post-modernism in Bulgaria, but all of them are still insufficiently studied and evaluated.

On the basis of the preserved (visible and exhibited in the environment or still non-examined and non-exhibited) heritage sites, the territory of the peninsula are outlined nine key zones with a complex historical stratification, including the most valuable heritage sites (SCHEME № 2: Historical stratification of the property and its adjacent territory):

Scheme 2: Historical stratification of the site and its adjacent territory

(1) the area around the West gate of the town;

(2) the area around the South gate of the town with the churches of St. John Aleitourgitos and St. Stephen;

(3) the area at the central square Messembria and the church of Christ Pantokrator, in front of which are discovered the ruins of an archaic temple;

(4) the area around the churches of St. John the Baptist and of St. Spas (Saviour) with the early-Byzantine thermae and the hammam from the Ottoman period;

(5) the area around the Old Metropolitan church: this is the place of the Agora in the Ancient Messambria and of the main square with the metropolitan church of the Medieval Nessebar;

(6) the small square in the eastern part of the peninsula, formed by National Revival structures, below which are preserved also ancient structures; the memory of the existed church of St. George is still preserved;

(7) the area around the churches of St. Paraskeva and of St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel;

(8) the area around the basilica of Holy Virgin Eleousa” (in the Medieval Nessebar – monastery complex) with the ruins of a windmill and newly discovered archaeological structures;

(9) the Border Police complex at the eastern end of the peninsula, still unexplored, but with high potential for revealing of historical structures – this is the western part of the Acropolis in the Ancient Messambria and of the monastery complex – in the Medieval Nessebar.

In the close territorial context of “The Ancient City of Nessebar” special attention should be given to the Necropolis of Messambria-Messemvria-Nessebar that existed in historical continuity from the 5th c. B.C. until the 15th century.

Along, in the urban structure are preserved also a number of specific areas, zones and directions of historical continuity in the development process of the Ancient City of Nessebar:

  • traditional communication directions – sign of the main urban structure of Nessebar – we can discover them along the present main streets: direction West-East (Mitropolitska Street and Messembria Street); and direction South-North from the harbour to the inside of the peninsula (along Ribarska Street);

  • traditional street structure from the period of the National Revival – irregular system of narrow meandering streets, that developed from the period of Early Christianity until nowadays, where the traditional visual links with the sea are preserved, as well as fragments with authentic forms from the Middle Ages and the National Revival (the roadway, whose lowest part is in the middle and the narrow pavements are paved with middle-sized stone slabs with typical profile; there are places where pavements are lacking);

  • traditional areas – inherited by the formerly existing larger ensembles. These areas are located along the traditional directions and have preserved until present days its significance of important centres in the everyday and cultural life of the town – these are: the southern harbour, the square by the Old Metropolitan church, the almost square-shaped square at the eastern end of the peninsula, and the today’s main Messambria Square.

Gallery: Historical and scientific review