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The town of Sozopol

Sozopol is the oldest town in the Bulgarian part of the Black Sea coast.The first settlement dates back to the end of 4th –3rd  millennium BC . The underwater explorations conducted within the limits of the Sozopol port have discovered remains of dwellings, earthenware, also stone and bone tools from the Bronze age. Numerous stone anchors and anchor stocks, dating back to 2nd – 1st millennium BC have been found in the Sozopol bay. They are a testimony for the intensive sailing activities even in the remote past.

Miletus Greeks founded Hellenic colony (polis) situated in the place of today’s Sozopol in 610 BC. They called it Apolonia Pontica.The name derived from the name of god Apollo who was believed to be the patron of colonies. The ancient town developed into an important trading and port centre. It maintained close contacts with the major Hellenic city-states such as Miletus, Athens, Corinth, Heraklea Pontica, the islands of Rhodos, Hios and Lesvos, etc. Its trading influence in Thrace was based on the union with the rulers of the Odryssae kingdom which was founded in 5th century BC. Apollonia Pontica was in competition with the Megara colony of Messemvria, founded a century later. The Megarian settlers wanted to establish trade relations with the Thracians via the Burgas bay. To oppose to that, Apollonia created a colony of its own- the town of Anhialo, located south of Messemvria. Its function was to protect the access to the Burgas bay.This new colony was also rich in underwater salt deposits. Certain changes in the seabed of the bay prove the performance of intense salt extraction activities starting from the Antiquity.

The anchor became the emblem of Apollonia and was always depicted on the coins the town started minting in 6th century BC. The prosperous town became the centre of highly developed arts. Its contemporaries used to call it Apollonia Magna (i.e. Great Apollonia).There was a huge temple of god Apollo in the town. The exact location is unknown but it is supposed to have been on the island of St.Cyricus.

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