The resort town of Nessebar at the souther Black Sea coast is often called the encyclopedia of the Christian church architecture. Forty-four ancient churches have been discovered so far in the town, eighteen of them are well-preserved.
All of them were built in the period from the 5th to the 19th century. Here, you can also see some of the most ancient early Christian basilicas in Bulgaria. The first of them - the basilica of The Virgin Mary - has been broken into halves by a landslide. The so-called Old Bishopric, however, is almost intact and its brick arches are solemnly guarding the silent houses.
In the 12th - 14th century there was a kind of an architectural boom in Nessebar. A large number of small cross-domed churches were built during this period. Embarrassed by the requirement for small air space of the churches, the architects concentrated their talent on the facades. They richly decorated them with motifs of red bricks and white stones, very vivid and flexible, adorned with garlands and ceramic rosettes and colored in all nuances of the rainbow; these motifs resemble embroideries, rather than walls of buildings. The churches of Christ Pantocrator, Saint Paraskeva, etc. are the examples of this unique architectural style.
However, the Saint Stefan Church, at the harbor, is one of the most interesting in the town. On its facade, as well as on the very mural paintings, one can see dozens of graffiti of medieval warships, merchant ships, and sailing boats. On seeing this you come to ask yourself whether this was a kind of sailors' prayer for calm seas.
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