Walking slowly around the rocky peninsula with the calm Black Sea beside us, we breathed in the warm November night air and the atmosphere of the ancient, walled fishing village of Nessebar, Bulgaria. It was very quiet, an occasional voice, small waves lapping at our feet, lights on the mainland, shadows from the stone town wall above us, a few street lights.
White yachts were moored near the isthmus with their names written in Cyrillic, so we practiced sounding the letters, then triumphantly pronouncing their names.
This was our first of several trips to Nessebar. In November there were few tourists here, and I could really feel the essence of the ancient village. We watched freshly caught fish being sold from a boat while our guide told us about the layers of history in the stone wall.
The first layer of the wall was built when the Greek polis made a fortress wall about the 5th century B.C., followed by a Roman layer and on through the centuries. The town was called Mesembria, but before that it was named Menebria after the Thracian king Menas. Bria means city. There are archaeological remains from 3,000 years ago. UNESCO says this is “one of the oldest towns in Europe, it still exudes the spirit of different ages and peoples – Thracians, Hellenes, Romans, Slavs, Byzantines and Bulgarians.”
Churches built of stone and red brick layers with round towers and arches are distinctive and date from the 5th century A.D. to the 14th century. The story is that fishermen would be out to sea when a storm came up. They prayed to God to save them, promising that if he would, they would build a church. He saved them and they built the churches, about 40 of them with 20 or so that can still be seen.
Returning to our hotel we saw this dog who really wanted to get down from the balcony and be petted!
Next week, part two, our visit in September.