Sozopol is one of the most ancient towns in Bulgaria. Situated on the Black Sea it has an impressive shoreline with almost deserted beaches. From the busy harbour the winding cobbled streets meander and weave past houses, half wooden, half stone, a vibrant market and various shops and stalls which sell everything.
There is an impressive archaeological museum which for 7 lev (for adults) you can look round three floors of artifacts found in the area. Outside, the remains of a church and domestic dwelling, found during the excavation for a hotel, have been left for all to see. During the excavation over 1,000 skeletons were found in the church and its surrounds. An interesting point was that two of the skeletons, one of a man, the other of a woman, were found with bronze daggers in their hearts which meant that they were reputedly ‘bad people’. The man’s skeleton, with the dagger lying on his chest, is on display in the museum. The woman’s, unfortunately, had disintegrated too much to be saved.
On a nearby island to Sozopol, during an archaeological dig in the ruins of a church, a small reliquary was found recently. Although DNA cannot prove one way or the other that they are the relics of John the Baptist, other finds nearby support the theory that they are. They have been transferred to a newly renovated church of St Ivan (St John) in Sozopol where visitors can buy – for a few lev – a piece of cotton wool which is positioned next to the reliquary. With this, they make the sign of the cross on the glass lid which protects the relics, and good fortune, good health and good luck will remain with the person as they keep the small piece of cotton wool with them. This is a more hygienic version than kissing the glass upon which millions of lips have been placed over the years.
Sozopol means ‘Town of Salvation’ and dates back to the early Greek times when migrants from Greece began to populate the area around the Black Sea for trade purposes.