The church "St. Todor" - Nessebar
The church “St. Todor” was built at the end of the XIIIth century. It is a one-nave, one-apse church with a narthex. Since the initial period of the church’s construction, its north and west walls have been preserved. The southern wall, the altar apse and the dividing wall between the naos and the narthex, are destroyed. The upper part of the church is not preserved, probably with a semi-cylindrical vault. During the Ottoman period (1804), when the church underwent reconstruction, the southern and eastern walls and the wooden roof, which was restored in the 20th century, were built.
The building of the church is mixed with rows of stone blocks and brick belts. The facade decoration is similar to that of other Nessebar churches of the same period. The blind niches on the north and west facades are one-step. They are decorated with bricks in a chess and zigzag motif, and fish bone.
The church “St. Todor” was active until the beginning of the 20th century. In its interior are preserved a wooden iconostasis, a metropolitan throne and a marble candlestick from 1808.
The iconostasis of the church “St. Todor” was made in the beginning of the 19th century. It has two entrances, which are formed in the upper part with carved carvings. There are four icons in the royal order: St.Nicholas and St. Theodore Stratilates (1809); St. Virgin Mary – Mistress of Life (second half of the 13th century); Daisys (end of the sixteenth century) and St. Theodore Tyron (beginning of the nineteenth century).
There are 12 icons on the Apostolic Order, of which five are preserved today: St.Peter; St. Luca; St. Marco, St. Andrew the Baptist and St. John the Theologian. All the icons of the Apostolic Order are from the end of the 18th century – the beginning of the 19th century. The iconostasis ended in its upper part with an imperial cross. The altar doors are not preserved, but there are old pictures and information that they depict the “Annunciation” scene with an inscription from 1543.
The Metropolitan Throne is carved and dates back to the early nineteenth century.
The church “St. Todor” is a museum site. It displays the exhibition “Nessebar – the pearl of Orthodoxy”. It is dedicated to the greatest wealth of Nessebar – its churches. There is a lot of information about the development of the cult architecture in the city. There are also interesting monuments from the Middle Ages
The church "St. John Aliturgetos" - Nessebar
The church “St. John Aliturgetos “is the most interesting and picturesque church in Nessebar. It was built around the middle of the 14th century. The local legend tells us that it has remained unsanctified and therefore bears the name “Aliturgetos” (the unsanctified). However, it was a functioning church and worship services were performed there. The church is a cross-circle, with a square naos and a three-dimensional altar. On the west it ends with a spacious narthex. The building of the church is mixed with rows of limestone blocks and brick belts. The altar of the church is formed by three separate apses, as the central one is larger. In the middle of the naos were four marble columns that held a large dome. Now the columns are not saved. The shoulders of the cross are covered with semi-cylindrical arches, and where they crossed each other, the dome drum rises. The narthex is covered by a blind dome. It is not yet clear whether a tower-bell rose above it. The northern and eastern facades of the church are preserved in their authentic form. During the great earthquake of 1913, the dome collapsed, almost the entire southern facade and part of the west also. For a long time the church was ruined, but in the 60s of the 20th century the destroyed walls were restored. As a basis for the restoration, archival photographs from before the earthquake were used. “John Aliturgetos” is the most decorated medieval church in Nessebar. Blind two-step arches pass through all facades. On the northern facade, the decoration is the most splendid. The arches are surrounded by glazed ceramic plates and four-stones. In the niches of the arches and over them there are fields with brick ornaments – suns, diamonds, braids, zig-zag shaped and chess ornaments and others. Interesting is also the built in the northern facade stone relief in the form of a shell. The stone trunks that support the Lombard arcade have plastic decorations of acanthus leaves, lilies, lions, griffins, pigeons. On the key stones of the arches are a sculptured crucifix, acanthus leaves, lilies and images of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary. On the limestone blocks of the facades there are many graffiti – mostly images of ships from the 15th – 18th centuries. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the apse has preserved fragments of frescoes with images of saints – hierarchs. But after the earthquake, they are almost completely destroyed. In the archaeological excavations in 2015, in connection with the restoration of the church, funded by the Ambassadorial Fund for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage and the US Embassy in Bulgaria, part of the original roof structure was revealed over the northern apse – a mass of earth mass and medieval ceramics (amphorae and fragments of amphorae, jugs, pots, skylines, etc.). The found ceramics dated between the middle of the twelfth century and the late 14th century. These vessels were used in the lightweight roofing structure.
The Church “Dormition of the Mother of God” - Nessebar
The Church “Dormition of the Mother of God” is currently the main active church in Nessebar and is managed by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. It is located near the northern coast of the peninsula and with its high bell towers it rises above all other buildings in the city.
It was built in the second half of the 19th century. The beginning of the building was in 1856. According to the local legend, in the crown of a tree, located at the present place of the church, the icon of St. Virgin Mary arised three times. Perhaps this has prompted the inhabitants to get involved with the construction of this monumental church. At the beginning a lot of money was provided for the construction by the wealthy citizen of Nessebar Alexander Kumbaris. But after his death, construction has faded. When in 1884 Konstantin Irechek visited the city, he noted that the temple was underbuilt due to lack of funds. There were accumulated columns, capitals and other architectural elements taken from earlier buildings around it. The remains of the fortress walls and the medieval church “Christ the Acropolis” were used as building material. Ten years later, in 1894, with the efforts of all citizens, the church was completed and solemnly sanctified.
According to its architectural plan, ” Dormition of the Mother of God ” is a three-nave pseudo-basilica with a semi-circular apse. There is also a narthex with a rectangular bell tower above it. The ships are covered with semi-cylindrical vaults, which are located under a common double-sided roof. A series of arched windows passes along the north, south and west facades.
The iconostasis and the bishop’s throne in the church are from the end of the 19th century. The Bishop’s throne is decorated with carving – realistically represented fishes and lions. The frescoes are contemporary from the 20th century. An icon of “St. Virgin Mary Hodegetria” from the 14th century and the icon named “The Black Virgin” with silver casing (19th century). Other icons of saints from the 19th century are also preserved – St.Paraskeva, St. Basil the Great, St. Nicholas the Miracleworker. With the icon “Black Virgin”, the religious processions take place annually on August 15 – the patron saint of the church and the city’s feast.
The church "St. John the Baptist" - Nessebar
The church “St. John the Baptist” is one of the best preserved medieval monuments in Nessebar. Historical sources do not know when it was built. Based on its architectural features, it dates back to the end of the Xth century. It belongs to the cross-type churches. Four massive ladders outline the bridal square above which a large cylindrical drum rises. The shoulders of the space cross are covered with semi-cylindrical vaults and end with triangular fronts. Altar space consists of three semicircular apses. There is no narthex. The entrances are three on the western wall, and one on the north. The church has small dimensions – 12 meters long and 10 meters wide.
The walls of the naos on the inside are smooth and unshaven. They were completely covered with frescoes. They have preserved a magnificent image of a 14th century donor on the southern wall and an image of St. Marina from the beginning of the 17th century on the southwest pillar. The floor of the church is original with a pavement of ceramic tiles.
Its external architecture is rigorous and monumental. The Church acts primarily with its proportional volumes, three uncut semi-circular apses and its large cylindrical domed drum. It is built mainly of river and boulder stones that are not arranged in the correct rows. Bits of bricks are inserted into the alignment joints. Many marble spheres are also used from the Early Byzantine basilica underneath. Bricks are used mainly as a decorative element, but very limited – in the lattice motif over the entrances, the arches, the toothed roof cornice and the domed drum.
In 2012 – 2013, archaeological excavations, which were part of the “Faith in Nessebar” project, took place inside and east and west outside the church. They revealed the foundations of a three-nave Early Byzantine basilica from the 6th century on which the church “St. John the Baptist ” was built and part of an ancient building (probably a temple). In its original plan, the basilica had an apse, semi-circular on the inside and inside. Subsequently, two small semicircular apses are attached to the south and probably to the northern vessel.
The restoration of the church under the “Faith in Nessebar” project included strengthening its foundations, strengthening the walls, replacing the roof. The surrounding area was enriched with the construction of a large staircase and a wall on which symbols and texts related to the patron of the church were written. Recreation and fountains are also built. The goal of the “Faith in Nessebar” project is to inspire new life in the medieval churches.
At present, the church “St. John the Baptist “is a museum site. In the exposition the visitor can see the preserved frescoes and get information about the archaeological research in the church and the latest discoveries. Original icons from the Nessebar medieval churches are also exhibited.
Archaeological Museum - Nessebar
The Archaeological Museum in Nessebar was established in 1956 and its first exhibition is arranged in the church “St. John the Baptist”. In it’s new building, built specifically for a museum under the project of arch. Hristo Koev, it moved in 1994. The exhibition “Nessebar through the centuries”, which presents numerous monuments of culture illustrating the history of ancient Messambria and the medieval town of Nessebar, is arranged here. The exhibition area of the museum includes a foyer and four halls.
In the first hall under the title “Messembria and the Thracians” is traced the earliest history of the town from the creation of a Thracian settlement on the peninsula at the end of the Bronze Age (12th century BC) until the foundation of the Greek colony at the end of the 6th century BC. One can see valuable artefacts from this period – stone anchors, Thracian ceramics, epigraphic monuments and coins. In the second hall – “Ancient Messambria” are exhibited interesting finds from the necropolis of the Greek colony Messembria, many tombstones, decrees, votive reliefs, sculptures, imported and local ceramics and coins cut in the city. In the third room – “Messembria in Rome, Byzantium and Bulgaria”, visitors are acquainted with the history of the town since its conquest of the Republic of Rome in 72/71 BC. until its’ fall under the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The main focus was the transformation of the city into a major Christian center, the construction of early Christian basilicas and medieval churches. There are a number of artifacts – marble architectural elements, coins, Old Bulgarian ceramics, white-ceramics and sgraffito ceramics found in the city.
In the iconic hall is presented the collection of Nessebar icons, which is one of the richest in the country – wonderful examples of the “Nessebar Icon Painting School”. They decorated the iconostasis of the numerous Nessebar churches, which according to the legends were 42, and according to archaeological studies – around 30. And in the grave years of slavery in Nessebar were built, renovated and sculpted churches. Then these icons were created.
An honorable position in the foyer of the Archaeological Museum is the Diploma, which certifies the entry of Old Nessebar in the List of World Heritage Monuments. This took place on 9 December 1983 at the VIIth session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Florence, Italy.