The current archaeological museum in the Old Town of Nessebar was founded in 1994 as the successor of the existing from 1956 museum exhibition in the Church of St. John the Baptist. The museum is located by the fortification walls, in a specially designed building. Archaeological excavations on the Nessebar peninsula and its territorial waters over the past four decades discovered rich collections of significant cultural monuments, illustrationgillustrating the history of ancient Messambria and mediavalmedieval Nessebar. There are shown exhibits tracing the rich history of the ancient town of Mesambria and the medieval Nessebar. Among the unique artifacts in the museum are open vital-sign a decree in honor of the Thracian ruler Sadat, dated from III century BC. , silver treasures of ancient silver coins tetradrachms, the diploma for the inclusion of Nesebar Old Town in the UNESCO list of monuments of world cultural heritage, a collection of unique icons.
The early Christian basilicas were among the first to be built after the Christianity was adopted as official religion throughout the Roman Empire in 313. Six such basilicas are known to have been built in Nessebar, of which only two are well preserved.
THE CHURCH ST. STEPHEN, known as The New Bishopric, was built in the period 11th - 13th century. In 16th century the church was elongated and in the 18th century a nartexnarthex was added. The church is a three-nave basilica. The central nave raisesrises up above the lateral and has oval frontons in the east and west. The church was built in stones and bricks. For the construction of the church many architectural elements -cornisescornices, capitals, reliefs of destroieddestroyed earlier buildings were secondary used. There are 258 mural paintings and more than 1000 figures. Scenes from the Miracles of Christ, according to the Gospel legends are given in all range. An original painted iconostasis, dated back to 16th century and wood-carved throne and a pulpit from 18th century are preserved in the church. Because of its architectural style, iconostasis and first of all because of its remarquable remarkable mural paintings, the church “St. Stephen” is one of the most important monuments of Bulgarian cultural heritage.
THE ST. JOHN ALITURGETOS (UNCONSECRATED) CHURCH was built in the 14th century. Even Although damaged in the earthquake in 1913 and not well preserved, the church is a proof of the supreme period in the construction of cult buildings in medieval Bulgaria. The facades of the churches are the most impressive. Here the picturesque style reached its biggest development. The adroit alternationnce of white stone blocks and red bricks combined with ceramic plates, formed different patterns, representing multicolouredmulticolored embroideries. All facades are built in different way. The most beatifulbeautiful is the preserved eastern facade with its three apses, decorated with niches with right proportions and elegant arches.
THE CHRIST PANTOCRATOR CHURCH (All PowerfullPowerful) is datesd back to the 13th - 14th century. It’s one of the most remarcable remarkable and well preserved medieval churches in Nessebar, typical for the picturesque style in the religeousreligious architecture. The church is rectangular with dimensions 16 m in length and 6,90, 90 m in width. It possesses two entrances - to the south and to the west. On the eastern side there are three small richly profiled apses. All over the facade there are highly walled concave arches completed . Above them threewith three rows of decorative saucers and four leafed flowers above them. Frieze of swastikas - the solar cult symbol, made of bricks, passes abovedecorates the apses on the eastern side. The richly decorated drum of the dome has eight windows in the form of arches. The nartexnarthex is small and under the floor there is a medieval tomb. Only tTraces of the original mural paintings are saved on the inner walls.
THE OLD METROPOLITAN CHURCH, known as St Sophia, is built on the site of the former Forum (Main Square from Latin). It is a three-nave basilica with a semicircular apse, a three-part narthex and an atrium (an inner yard). It is 25, 50 meters in length. The central nave is separated from the two side aisles with orthogonal stone columns and brick arches. Above there is a second arcade. There are three arched windows over the apse at the East Side and an indication for two-slope roof structure, which is not preserved. The apse possesses a synthronon, which can be seen today. Inside the church is plastered up and covered with frescoes. The basilica was built at the end of 5th century and the beginning of 6th century. There were two periods in its construction, rebuilt subsequently in the beginning of the 9th century. It was an important part of the Nessebar bishop's residence.
THE CHURCH ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST was built in the 10th century. Its construction was made of rough stone and mortar. The church is 14 m long and 10 m wide. Around the windows and above the door rudiments of decorative elements can be seen. The church is a typical representative of the transition between the shorter basilica towards the cruciform church. There is a cylindrical drum above the central part of the church and it ends with a hemispherical dome. To the East there are three semicircular apses. No narthex can be seen. Western, northern and southern facades of the church possess high blind arches. The church was plastered up and painted with frescoes. Inside there is a portrait of a donator (14th century) on the south wall and fragments with St. Marina (17th century) preserved on the southeastern column.
THE CHURCH ST. SPASS (17th century) is a small single nave and single apse building, 11, 70 m long and 5, 70 m wide. In the past there was a long, narrow narthex in the north side and with it, the width of the church was 9, 80 m. The wooden roof with eaves is without edging. Eastern facade was half dug in the ground. The church was built in 1609 with the funds of rich citizen from Nessebar, during the time of the bishop Cyprian. We can understand that from the commemorative inscription, above the southern entrance.
The church is wall painted from an anonymous painter in the beginning of 17th century. Wall paintings represent scenes from the life of Christ and Holly Virgin. The Virgin Platytera is painted in the apse. The tombstone of a Byzantine princess Mataissa Cantacuzina was preserved in the church for a long time. Now the gravestone is in the Archaeological museum.
CHURCH St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel (13th century) is one nave, cruciform with a narthex. Its dimensions are 13.90 by 5.30 m. There was a dome and a rectangular tower, setting up over the narthex. A stone stairway, hidden in the west wall of the church leads to the tower. The temple has three doors – one on the northern wall towards the nave and two doors towards the narthex. In the east the church has three small, multilateral apses with apertures in them. Exterior decoration is rich. The arches are underlined by triple rows of green glazed plates and the spaces underneath are filled up with small stone blocks and couples of bricks, arranged in chessboard order.
THE CHURCH ST. PARASKEVA (13th -14th century) is a single nave church, 15 m by 6 m in size, with a narthex. A pentagonal apse is jutting out to the East. The church is built of hewn stone and bricks in rows. The southern and northern facades are ornamented with blind arches which drums are richly decorated. Motives of fishbone, sun, zigzag, checker board etc. are made of stone and bricks too. Over them decorative ornaments - round and glazed saucers are walled in. Result of later reconstruction, the roof of the church has two slopes. It is a typical cruciform church - the roof is formed as a cross and above it, in the central part, there is a drum with a dome. In the past there has been a bell-tower over the narthex. Its existence is proved by the stone stairway inside between the naos and the narthex.
FORTIFICATION WALLS. During the centuries a lot of the fortified systems have been built which made the peninsula an impregnable fortress. The first inhabitants on the peninsula – the Thracians, started the fortification of the settlement in the 8th century BC. A fortified wall with a gate has been found from this period. It was made of hewn stone joined by mud. The wall that can be seen nowadays is 2 m high.
During the time of Hellenistic colonization (6th century BC) the colonists from Megara did not start immediately the construction of a new defense system. They built a new wall later, in the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 4th century BC. The work lasted till the 3rd century BC. Big stone blocks were used, their visible sides being specially polished, placed in line, without any solder. The inner part of the wall was filled with broken stones and soil. The Greek wall was well studied in the west part of the town. It can be seen that in some places it overlaps the later one – the Byzantine. Messambria being conquered by the Romans, the found defense system was preserved and used during the following centuries.
After the decay of the Roman Empire the Byzantine rulers undertook an active constructional work and in the middle of the 5th century AD a new fortified wall has been built in “opus mixtum” – alternation of stones and bricks. The best-preserved part of it can be seen today near the city gate, opposite to the strip. Here the wall was faced with big orthogonal hewn stone blocks. The gate was flanked with two square towers on both sides of which round and semicircular towers were symmetrically placed. Two gates – a drawbridge like one and a twin leafed gate closed tightly the access to the town. During the Early Byzantine period a fortified wall was built on the south – west coast, near the port.
The early Byzantine system has been used during all the Middle ages. In the time of war attacks of the enemy part of it was destroyed seriously but it was quickly rebuilt. The first reconstruction was dated to the end of 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century, after the attacks of the Avars. After khan Kroum conquered the city in the year 812 he pulled down the wall. Later, in the end of the century, it was rebuilt of bricks. In the end of the 11th century the defense system was repaired once again. During the reign of Tsar Ivan Alexander the walls were definitely reconstructed. After the town was subjected to Ottoman rule in 1453, the defense system lost its strategic importance and, left without any special maintenance, gradually declined.
Ethnographic Museum - Moskoyani House
The Moskoyani House is one of the most interesting Renaissance monuments - a typical example of Nessebar residential architecture from the late period of the Bulgarian Renaissance.
The Thermae (baths) in Nessebar are located in the lowest part of the North shore of the peninsula, to the North of the St. John the Baptist church. About 2/3 of their area are studied - the antechamber, the center hall and caldarium with pools. The rest remains buried under the modern buildings. They were supplied with water via underground passage sewers.
Houses of the National Revival Period
The wooden house built in late 18th and early 19th century are most numerous and best preserved monuments from the Bulgarian National Revival Period. With its original architecture, they reveal the development and significance of the Black Sea type of wooden house - an expression of the original creative genius of the Bulgarian builder.