Nessebar’s Spiritual Road
Mr. Dimitrov, you want to promote Nessebar as a pilgrimage travel destination. Please tell us how you intend to achieve that.
My team and I, we’re unanimously focusing our work on one of our main priorities – the care about the millennial culture and history of Nessebar, a World Cultural Heritage town. The municipal administration pledged to develop, in parallel with seasonal tourism, cultural, pilgrimage, and festival tourism as well. I always thought that tourism has a future if it’s not perceived just as business but also as a cultural and spiritual communication between nations and people. This is why we developed a few cultural products, among which “Celebrate with Us” and “Nessebar – Beloved in All Four Seasons”. The idea of developing pilgrimage travel emerged with a project that we completed in 2009 – the restoration and conservation of a masterpiece of medieval culture, the St Stephen church. We’re working ever since on various related projects, of which the newest is called the Spiritual Road.
What other projects are you working on currently?
Two months ago, Nessebar earned the prestigious 3rd place in the Marvels of Bulgaria national campaign. The government granted 1 M leva to each of the first 10 marvels. We’re going to invest the funds into the restoration and conservation of one of the medieval temples in the UNESCO town. Two months back, we applied to a grant programme to finance the project for the reconstruction and restoration of St John the Baptist, one of the masterpieces of medieval ecclesiastical architecture. Within the framework of the same programme, we’ll apply for the restoration, adaptation, and socialization of yet another medieval church as well. We’re completing the idea phase of development for the St John Aliturgetos medieval complex. The restoration of these temples and the already restored St Stephen church will provide us the possibility to develop the Spiritual Road cultural and historical itinerary.
This is why an Integrated Plan for the Preservation and Management of Old Nessebar is under development. It will regulate the overall image of the town, display stands and the aggressive presence of billboards that don’t fit into the historical landscape. We expect the plan to be adopted before 2012.
What cultural and pilgrimage travel itineraries are you proposing?
The pilgrimage travel itinerary I mentioned will go through the Old Town’s medieval temples, because they are one of the reasons of Nessebar being on the World Heritage List. The restoration of the churches in Sveti Vlas is ahead, and thus, the tourist itinerary will expand to the whole municipal territory. What’s upcoming is the restoration of both the St Andrew Parvozvani [Protokletos, the First-called] monastery complex and the churches in the Emona village.
How many are the churches in service? When the churches you’re restoring are expected to open to visitors?
Currently, Nessebar has a single functioning church – Uspenie Bogorodichno [Dormition of the Theotokos]. The municipality’s idea is that the churches, after restoration, should not be just monuments of culture but on predefined occasions should also allow religious services. For example, to perform the liturgy in St Stephen on December 27 [St Stephen’s Day], and to christen children inside the St John the Baptist church, i.e., to put them in service.
Which Nessebar landmarks would you recommend to our readers?
Nessebar occupies a peninsula just 850 m long and 350 m wide. In this small space, different elements are combined – nature, fascination, history, and culture. Every one of them bears its own charm and should not be overlooked. Nessebar is a town whose beauty one could hardly resist, a town that deserves to be seen!