Sozopolis the oldest town along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The earliest settlement in this area was founded in V century BC. Originally it was settled by fishermen, farmers, stock-breeders and metal workers who mined ore in the closer hill of Medni rid (Copper Hill). The settlement kept developing in the Early Bronze Age and its citizens traded with bronze alloys in the Black and Aegean Sea. The underwater explorations in the aquatory of the port of Sozopol revealed remains from homes, pottery, stone and bone tools from the Bronze Age. At the end ofthe Second and the beginning of the First Millennium BC the South-western shores of the Black Sea were settled by the Thracians. According to Herodotus the area of today's Sozopol was populated by the Thracian tribe of Skyrmiadae, who were famous as skilled miners and maintained trade relations with the whole Aegean World. There are numerous stone anchors found in the Bay of Sozopol, which come as evidence of active navigation.

In 620 BC, emigrants from the big Greek town on the Asia Minor shore - Miletus founded a Greek colony named Antae at the place of the Thracian settlement. The colony grew up and the polis, which was later renamed to Apollonia, developed to become an important trade and port center in the Black Sea. The polis was close to the lands of the Thracian tribes of Skyrmiadae and Nipsaeiand its strategic location allowed to have command of the access routes to the Black Sea Thrace and Strandzha, which were rich in raw materials and resources, and to act as an intermediary in the trade between the Athens marine union and the Thracian tribe unions.


The trade impact which Apollonia had in Thrace was based on the union with the rulers from the Odrysian Kingdom signed in 5 century BC. The polis maintained active relations with the large centers of Greece, Miletus, Athens, Corinth, Heraclius Pontean, the islands of Rhodes, Chios, Lesbos, Egypt, etc. Apollonia started to coin its money from the end of VI c. BC. The importance of the active sea trade and the navigation presupposed the adoption of the anchor as the herald of the polis, used to mark the coins.

The competition with the Megara colony of Mesembria, which was funded a century later, resulted to the foundation of the colony of Anchialo. The new colony, situated to the south of Mesembria, within immediate proximity of the latter, had the duty to protect the access to the Bay of Burgas, where the Megara people tried to trade with the Thracians. Apart from its strategic position, Anchialo was rich in underwater resources of salt. The changes of the sea bottom in the bay indicate the active production of salt in these ancient times.

Apollonia succeeded to stand for its independence during the times of Philip II of Macedon (342-339 BC) and Alexander of Macedon (335 BC).

The wealthy town turned into a center of highly-developed arts. There was a big temple of Apollo in the town. Its precise location is not known, but most probably it was on the island of Kirik and included a 12-meter statue of Apollo made by the famous Athenian sculptor of Calamis.

In 72 BC the Roman military commander and pro councilor Mark Lucullus captured the town and took the statue of the God of Apollo from the temple and mounted it in Capitol in Rome. The statue wasmelted after the adoption of Christianity as an official religion in the Roman Empire. Although the town declined and left its leadership in the region to Anchialo and Deultum, it recovered its positions and was famous in the Roman world with the epithet Magna (Great).

Ancient Apollonia was one of the first places on the Balkan peninsula, where Christianity started, and the chronics mention the name of Ellios Publios Julios - Episcope of Deultum and Apollonia back in 2 c. AD.

St St Cyril and Methodius Church in Sozopol opened its doors after 70 years of oblivion to keep on July 25th, 2011 the relics of St John the Baptist, which had been found a year ago during the archeological excavations of the ruins of a Medieval monastery in the near island of Saint Ivan. The access of believers to the church was closed back in 1944 but it did not need new consecration because it was a miracle that the base stone and the altar table, under which other holy relics had been built, remained untouched during these seven decades, when the church was used for everything else but not for religious purposes.

St St Cyril and Methodius Church is a structure of one nave and one apse with semi-cylindrical dome, finished in 1888, being the creation of the gifted architect of Usta Gencho of Tryavna - the last talented church builder from the Bulgarian Revival. This was his last work. After the consecration of the church the builder set off with a boat to Pomorie, where he was hired to build a new church, but he drowned in a storm. When the construction of St St Cyril and Methoidus church started, there already had been 4 active churches in Sozopol - of Saint George, Saint Zosim, Holy Virgin and Saint Ivan the Theologian - which were enough for its population of 4000 people. But after the Crimean War the fight for the independence of the Bulgarian church burst out. It was unsuccessful in Sozopol because of the predominant greko-mania trend and the Bulgarian priest S. Shivachev was evicted. In 1870 Sozopol and other 21 Black Sea settlements were excluded from the territories of the Bulgarian Exarchate   with a special decree. There was a Greek bishop in the town and he was strongly supported by the Ecumenical Patriarchy. After the liberation, the Bulgarians in the town, whose number grew with the people emigrating from the Thrace provinces, established its religious municipality and started its struggle for their independent church by refusing to attend divine services in the churches under the control of Ecumenical Patriarchy. This church became the symbol of the fight for independence. The needed funds were raised with donations given by the Thracian community in the principality of Bulgaria. The church was intensively used till 1913, when the number of believers grew up sharply as a result of the emigration from Thrace after the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising and the Balkan Wars. In 1913 the Greek eparchies in Bulgaria joined the Exarchate and all churches in Sozopol became Bulgarian. Then the church of St St Cyril and Methodius was outside Sozopol's borders. Divine services were held there only on big holidays because people went to the churches inside the town. After 1944 the communist regime turned it into a town museum, then into a museum of underwater archeology and concert hall during Apollonia Art festival.

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