Sozopol is one of the oldest towns on the Bulgarian Black Sea. The earliest settlement is dated to the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C. It was established by Thracian tribes. Underwater archaeological investigations in the Sozopol harbor area have yielded remains of houses, pottery, stone and bronze implements from the Bronze Age. Numerous anchors have also been found attesting to active sea-faring since the early antiquity.
In 620 B.C. settlers from the Greek city of Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor turned the old Thracian settlement into a rich Hellenic colony.
This is how the independent city-state of Apollonia – Pontica came into being. The colony was name after the god Apollo, a patron of the arts.
The new city-state was strategically located to control the coastal territories of Thrace and the Stranja Mountain that were rich in raw materials.
Its commercial influence in Thrace relied on the alliance with the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom established in the 5th century B.C.
The colony flourished as a center of culture and arts. In the 6th century its population reached 30,000 citizens. Such was the size of the population of Athens at that time.
In 72 B.C. the city was conquered and plundered by the Romans. They demolished the city walls and the 13- meter- high bronze statue of Apollo.
It was not until the early 4th century that Apollonia regained some of its former significance. In 330 A.D. it was renamed Sozopol – the City of Salvation. The change reflects the adoption of Christianity as the only legitimate religion in the Roman Empire. After the demise of Rome, Sozopol became part of the newly-established Empire of Byzantium.
The town was incorporated into the territory of Bulgaria in 812 A.D. when Khan Kroum conquered it. Sozopol became a major Bulgarian Black Sea port connecting Bulgaria with the Italian republics of Venice and Genoa.
In 1453, after a prolonged siege, the town fell to the Turks. Since then only wooden houses were built, some of which have survived down to the present day and can be seen along the streets in the Old Town.No Muslims ever settled in Sozopol and its population preserved its Christian character. The only Turks residing in the town were the town superintendant and his family. The population was forced to tear down all medieval churches.
In the early 19th century Sozopol lost its significance as a commercial port.
Fishing remained the only means of subsistence.
During the Second Balkan War and WWI ( 1913-1918) a large portion of the Greek population of Sozopol emigrated to Greece. At the same time large numbers of Bulgarian refugees from Southern Thrace, parts of which had been ceded to Turkey and Greece, settled in and around Sozopol.
Places to see
The Church of St. George is the oldest place of worship built in 1828 on the site of an early Christian basilica. Its marble altar dates back to 330 AD.The Southern Fortress Wall is an architectural complex visited by thousands of tourists all year round. Of great interest for archaeologists is the Apollonia Pontica necropolis on the Harmanite beach.
Off the coast of Sozopol are three islands – St.John, St. Peter and St. Cyril. Remains of a monastery, an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Apollo, an ancient lighthouse and other objects have been found there.Worth seeing is also the Archaeological Museum, the Art Gallery and some old museum houses.