Located 34 km south of Bourgas on a slender rocky peninsula, Sozopol is one of the earliest towns on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and dates from 2,610 years ago.
The archaeological findings testify to the presence of the Thracians as its first inhabitants. In 620 B.C. immigrants from the rich city of Milet - the largest Southern Greek centre on the Asia Minor coast - turned the old Thracian settlement into a rich Hellenic colony - the independent city-state Apollonia-Pontica. Its strategic position gave it the opportunity to dominate the ways to the coast of Black Sea Thrace and the Stranja Mountains, which were rich in raw materials, and gave it an active intermediary role in commerce among the Athenian sea unions, the Hellenistic states in the Mediterranean area and the Thracian formations. Culture and art started flourishing, temples and public buildings were built, as well as exquisite sculptures in the classical style of ancient Greek art. Artefacts were made from gold, silver, bronze and marble, coins were minted.
Sozopol was especially renowned in antiquity for the temple of Apollo the Healer, whose bronze statue, 13 m high, was a work of the Athenian sculptor Calamis. In 72 B.C. the punitive march of the Roman legions of Marcus Luculus against Apollonia, which was an ally to Mitridat ²V against Rome, completely destroyed the town's fortress wall, Apollo's temple and many other buildings. Only as late as the beginning of the 4th century, with the great political and ethnic changes in the Roman empire and the growth of Constantinople in its eastern part did Apollonia regain its former significance. This is the source of the town's new name - Sozopolis, the town of salvation.
Sozopol resisted the barbarian invasions in the period from the 3rd to the 7th century AD, it was annexed to Bulgaria's territory in 812 by Khan Krum, and after that was continually conquered by Byzantium and regained from it (972-1366). In the 13th century it was an important harbour centre, a mediator in international commerce and an episcopal and metropolitan seat. The monastery "Sveti Yoan Predtecha" (St. John the Forerunner) on the isle of Sveti Ivan was a spiritual and literary centre not only on a local and national, but also on an international level.
Today Sozopol is a popular beach resort best known for its casual ambience, two sandy beaches, and distinctive 19th century stone and wood houses, some 45 of which are national cultural monuments. While Sozopol is extremely busy during July and August, in the off-season it reverts back to a sleepy fishing village and is a favoured haunt of artists and writers.
Other places of interest in/near Sozopol