Characteristics of the single immovable heritage sites

In the arguments for inscription of the property, the significance of three groups of individual heritage sites is pointed out: archaeological sites; sites of the religious architecture and examples of the vernacular architecture.

1. Archaeological sites

The archaeological traces of ’numerous civilizations’ (the World Heritage Committee) are pointed as a very important factor for the outstanding universal value of the property. The MP draws the attention to the chronology of the successive accumulation of valuable archaeological layers. The earliest so far discovered traces date back to 8th-7th century BC1 (second phase of the Early Iron Age). Those are followed by: layers of the Greek colony Messambria (fragments of the defence system of the peninsula, ruins of the temple of Zeus Hyperdexius, remains of residential buildings and warehouses, data on the Agora and the Acropolis, etc.); layers of the Roman period and the Late Antiquity (the new fortification system with the main gate, the Imperial Thermae and the unique water supply system, etc.). With the approval of Christianity in the Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages there was a strong push in the temple construction in Messemvria. Later on, in the period 9th-14th c., the development of the remarkable ecclesiastical construction continued, along with the rebuilding and adding height to the fortification system. Extremely valuable is the excavated (after the inscription of the property) Necropolis of Messambria-Messemvria-Nessebar, that is situated on the mainland and includes monuments from the Hellenistic period to the Middle Ages. A considerable part of the early archaeological layers are to be found today at the sea bottom in the rich and insufficiently studied aquatory.

2. Sites of the religious architecture

Another important characteristic of the outstanding universal value of the Ancient City of Nessebar is its millennial exhibit as ’remarkable spiritual centre of Christianity‘. Because of its strategic location the town plays key role in the constant intercultural exchange and has influence upon the religious architecture not only on the Bulgarian lands, but also in ’the Byzantine cultural sphere‘. That is where it reaches its climax ’the picturesque architectural style’ – synthesis between the architectural form and the colourful decoration. The churches of Nessebar reaching nowadays – the Old Metropolitan basilica St. Sophia, Holy Virgin Eleousa basilica, the north-west basilica and the three-nave basilica; the unique Medieval churches of St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, St. Demetrius, St. Clement, Holy Virgin of Blacherna, St. Theodore, St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel, St. Pakaskeva, Christ Pantokrator, St. John Aleitourgitos, the National Revival St. Spas (Saviour) and The Assumption – are result of almost fifteen centuries of construction works and reveal the distinctive development of the Orthodox Christian architecture and culture.

3. Examples of vernacular architecture

To the outstanding universal value of the property also contributes ‘the preserved Revival’s structure’ with the numerous typological verifications, reflecting ‘the stages of development of the architectural style on the Balkans and in the entire East-Mediterranean region’ (the World Heritage Committee). Typical examples of the Nessebar house manifested by free development (with rectangular or L-shaped planning scheme) as well as by linked housing development (with back yard and passage, with shops and workshops on the ground floor).


1The information is from the latest research on the peninsula, made by Assoc. Prof. Anelia Bozhkova, PhD and Petya Kiyashkina. According to the team, that has made archaeological research in Nessebar in the 1960s and 1970s, the earliest remains of human presence date back from the Late Bronze Age – the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC (discovered north of the church of St John Aleitourgitos and on the northern coast)