The town of Sozopol is situated on picaresque peninsulas in the southeastern part of Bulgaria – the southern end of Burgas Bay, some 35 km away from the city of Burgas and 50 km from Burgas International Airport. The town has a population of 5,000 people. It is the oldest town along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and one of the most popular resorts in the country. The magnificent Old Town and its romantic atmosphere attracts many tourists from the whole world.
The Bulgarian Encyclopedia (Volume VI of 1988, page 283) published by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, presents Sozopol as an ancient Greek colony founded back in 610 BC by Ionians (Ionic Greeks) under the name of Apolonia – to honor God Apollo, which later became a city - state. From the very first centuries of its existence, Apolonia demonstrated unique development. Strong fortress walls and monumental public buildings were built in V century. The ancient authors mention the temple of Apollo the Healer with the colossal 13-meter high statue of the god. In 72 BC, Apolonia was conquered by the legions of the Roman military commander Marcus Lucullus. The city was fired and plundered and the famous statue of God Apollo was taken to Rome as a war trophy.
In I AD, the city was recovered, and after Thrace became a Roman province, the city continued its existence as a seaport center. After the adoption of Christianity as official religion, the city was named Sozopolis (which translated from Greek means "the city of salvation"). This name came from the natural protection provided by its bays, which saved many people from the strong winds and storms.
The numerous churches, monasteries and bishop’s temples, evidence the religious past of the ancient Sozopol, with some of them still existing today - the churches of St. George the Victorious, the Virgin Mary, St. St. Cyril and Methodius, St. Zosim, and the chapels of St. Athanasius, St. Marina, St. St. Constantine and Helen, Jesus Christ, St. Nicolas, Holy Ascension, St. Dimitar, St. Ivan Rilski and Holy Nedelya. During the times of Christianity, Sozopol was a bishopric having its supporters in the Church of Constantinople and close connections with the Church of Jerusalem. The Patriarch of Constantinople, John XII Cosmas /1296-1303/, was from Sozopol. From 1522 till 1904 Sozopol had 37 bishops. Taking into account the above facts, it becomes obvious that there is no other city of such rich Christian past.
With Decree No. 320 of the Council of Ministers of September 7th, 1974, the Old Town of Sozopol was declared museum. About 180 residential buildings from the middle of XVIII and the beginning of XIX c. gave the outlook of this cultural reserve. The houses in the Old Town are built of stone and wood and are classified as unique Black Sea architectural style of development. Some of the most famous buildings are: the house of Marieta Stefanova, the house of Kreanoolu, Todor Zagorov’s house, Kurtidi’s house, Dimitri Laskaridis’s house, to name just a few.
Volume 6, page 183 of the Bulgarian Encyclopedia published by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in 1988 reads that ‘in 1967 Sozopol was declared seaside resort of national importance”. The academician N. Fedorenko calls Sozopol “The Eternal City”.
Some of the sites that will attract the attention of the tourists and can be classified as “must see” are the local archeological museum and the art gallery. In 2010, during the archeological research and excavations in the near island of St. John, archeologists found out the bones of St John the Baptist. Evidence verifying this great discovery came from many of the most recognized institutions in this field - the Oxford University and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), and the funds for this project and the related research and tests were granted by National Geographic, who produced a unique film on this finding which attracted the attention of millions of people around the world. You can find the film here. Today, this priceless relic is kept in St. St. Cyril and Methodius Church in the town and attracts believers from all parts of the world. The ancient Sozopol with the bones of John the Baptist was the winner in the “The Wonders of Bulgaria” contest in 2011.
Some of the most popular events in Sozopol are 19.06 (when the locals celebrate St. Zosim /Bulgarian saint, patron of the city, who was born there/), 17.07 (the celebration of St. Marina /patron and protector of the city/, Apolonia art festival (1 – 10 September) and July Morning (30 June – 1 July). There are numerous international festivals held in the city.
There are several beaches in Sozopol, some of them very wild, which can be reached with an attraction train. Very close by, you can find the beaches of the camping sites of Gradina, Golden Fish and Kavatsite. The city is divided into Old Town and New Town. The Old Town is preferred for romantic strolls because of its narrow cobbled streets and old houses. Numerous hotels, public catering units and places for entertainment are concentrated in the new part of the city.
There are various options for accommodation, such as luxury hotels, small family hotels, guesthouses, bungalows. There are several camping sites within immediate proximity: Gradina, Golden Fish, Kavatsi, Veselie and Smokinya.
The restaurants offer typical Black Sea cuisine with a wide range of special dishes.
Various water sports can be practiced on the beaches.
Not far away to the south, you can reach Ropotamo nature reserve, which includes the estuary of the river with the same name. There you can enjoy a boat trip along the river and monitor interesting species of birds and plants.