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Ancient Greek cities in Bulgaria

HERACLEA SINTICA – ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΑ ΣΙΝΤΙΚΗ

Heraclea Sintica was an ancient Greek city in Thracian Macedonia, to the south of the Struma River, the site of which is marked by the village of Rupite, Bulgaria, and which was identified by the discovery of local coins.


Bronze coin from Heraclea Sintica struch in the era of Trajan

It was recently accidentally discovered at the foot of an extinct volcano on the land of Rupite. Professor Lyudmil Vagalinski, of the National Institute with Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, noticed strange structures above it: tunnels and an arch. Later on, after geosonar examination by Russian specialists, a large studio for producing ceramic masks for an unknown and as yet undiscovered ancient theatre was discovered. Soon afterwards, the scientists came across the proof of their identification of the city: a Latin inscription, dated 308 AD, of an imperial appeal addressed to the local urban citizens of Heraclea Sintica. Thus ended the years-long argument between Greece and Bulgaria about where Heraclea Sintica actually was.

NESEBAR – ΜΕΣΗΜΒΡΙΑ
Nesebar (Bulgarian: Несебър, pronounced [nɛˈsɛbɐr], also transcribed as Nessebar or Nesebur; ancient name: Menebria and Mesembria, Μεσημβρία in Greek) is an ancient town and one of the major seaside resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located in Burgas Province. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Nesebar Municipality. Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea” and “Bulgaria’s Dubrovnik”, Nesebar is a rich city-museum defined by more than three millennia of ever-changing history.

It is a one of the most prominent tourist destinations and seaports on the Black Sea, in what has become a popular area with several large resorts—the largest, Sunny Beach, is situated immediately to the north of Nesebar.


Fortifications at the entrance of Nesebar

Nesebar has on several occasions found itself on the frontier of a threatened empire, and as such it is a town with a rich history. The ancient part of the town is situated on a peninsula (previously an island) connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilisations over the course of its existence. Its abundance of historic buildings prompted UNESCO to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.

Obzor – ΝΑΥΛΟΧΟΣ
Obzor (Bulgarian: Обзор; Thracian: Naulochos, Ancient Greek: Naulochos, Latin: Naulochus, Tetranaulochus, or Templum Iovis) is a small town and seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. It is part of Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province.

The origins of the town, which the ancient Greeks knew as Heliopolis (“town of the sun”), can be seen in the small park which is lined with columns and statuary fragments from a Roman temple of Jupiter which once graced the spot.

The ancient Greek name of Obzor was Naulochos, a small port on the coast of Thrace, a colony of Mesembria. The ancient Romans named it Templum Iovis (Temple of Jupiter); Pliny called it Tetranaulochus. During the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, it was known as Gözeken. The modern name was introduced in 1936; Obzor obtained town privileges on 9 September 1984.

Pistiros – ΠΙΣΤΙΡΟΣ
Pistiros (Ancient Greek,Πίστιρος) was an inland Ancient Greek Emporium in Ancient Thrace. It is now situated in the territory of the city of Vetren, municipality of Septemvri, district of Pazardzhik,between the northern slopes of the Rhodopi Mountain and the foothill of Sredna Gora Mountain, in the westernmost part of the Maritsa river valley.

Emporion Pistiros, a name taken from the ancient Greek inscription discovered in 1990, was founded by Thasian merchants or colonists from the Pistyros on the coast of Thrace. It sustained intensive relations with the main economical centers in Aegean Thrace.

Pistiros was founded in the 3rd quarter of the 5th century BC. This would place her founding during the reign of the first kings of the Odrysian kingdom, Teres I, Sparatocos or Sitalkes. Under Amadocus I the emporion already existed and maintained wide trade contacts. Under Cotys I (384 BC–359 BC) and his successors, the Thasian, Apollonian, and Maroneian traders obtained guarantees, included in the Vetren inscription, concerning the integrity of their life, property and activity. This status coincided with the period of zenith for Pistiros.


The wharf of Pistiros, the last harbour on ancient Hebrus

The excavations uncovered the East fortification wall with a gate, towers, and a bastion, built of stone blocks on the model of Thasian fortification systems, as well as stone-paved streets, buildings with stone bases, and a well-constructed sewer system. The archaeological excavations outlined the following phases of the site:

I phase (second half of the 5th century BC – end of the first quarter of the 4th century BC): foundation of the emporion, building of the fortification system, pavement of the first streets, building of the drainage system.

II phase (second quarter – end of the 4th century BC): reconstruction in the site’s plan, connected with the reign of King Cotys I, heyday of Pistiros, regulations concerning the statute of Pistiros and its emporitai (Ancient Greek,”Εμπορίται”) in the Vetren inscription.

III phase (3rd century BC – beginning of the 2nd century BC): burning down and destruction of Pistiros by the Celts in the late 3rd century BC as well as its transformation into a metal production centre.

SOZOPOL – ΑΝΘΕΙΑ, ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΑ, ΣΩΖΟΠΟΛΙΣ
Sozopol (Bulgarian: Созопол) is an ancient seaside town located 35 km south of Burgas on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The original name of the city is attested as Antheia (Άνθεια in Greek) but was soon renamed to Apollonia (Απολλώνία).


Ancient gate in Sozopol

At various times, Apollonia was known as Apollonia Pontica (that is, “Apollonia on the Black Sea”, the ancient Pontus Euxinus) and Apollonia Magna (“Great Apollonia”).

By the first century AD, the name Sozopolis (Greek: Σωζόπολις) began to appear in written records. During the Ottoman rule the town was known as Sizebolu, Sizeboli or Sizebolou.

Source: MacedoniaHellenicLand