Church „St. St. Cyril and Methodius“
The church is located in the northern part of today’s Sea Garden and functions as a summer cathedral of Sozopol. It was built in 1889 by the famous first master – builder Gencho Kanev from Tryavna, with donations from the newly formed Bulgarian church community. At the last restoration of the church, in a capsule, placed under the base of the holy altar table, a list of donors was found. In architectural terms, it is a three-nave, one-apse, cross-domed church with four, free-standing pillars, and an exterior bell tower, that steps onto a narthex from the main level. It is built in the typical for the master style of borrowing from neoclassicism – with pilasters in the corners, with triangular pediments and a dome with arched openings, on which lie built-in columns. The bell tower is a four-walled, lightweight structure, ending with a hemispherical dome, as in this form it lasted until 1930.
The icons from the royal order of the iconostasis are work of Ivan Dimitrov, one of the most famous artists of the early 20th century AD, who initiated the academic style in Bulgarian icon painting. The rest of the icons are made by Sozopol icon painter Socrates Georgiev. In the 1950s, the temple was neglected and in 1965, by decision of the Bulgarian Patriarchate, was granted for museum exhibition. The carved iconostasis from the destroyed church “St. John the Theologian” were placed here.
Subsequently, the church was used to exhibit the Center for Marine History and Underwater Archeology and as a Concert Hall during the Apollonia Arts Festival. In 2011, after major restoration and reconstruction, the church functions again as an Orthodox temple. During the summer season, the Holy Relics of St. John the Baptist, discovered during archaeological excavations on Saint John Island in 2010, could be seen there.
Church of St. Martyr Zosim
The Church of St. Martyr Zosim is located on the isthmus that connects the Sozopol Peninsula with the continent (nowadays Sea Garden).
Above the door is built-in a marble plate with an embossed image of Saint-patron – St. Zosim Sozopolski – a Roman legionary, killed for his Christian faith in the 3rd century AD. He is a native of Sozopolis – a town in the region of Pisidia – Asia Minor, which in ancient times was also called Apollonia. In the 4th century AD, after the advent of Christianity as the official religion in the Roman Empire, the towns named “Apollonia” were renamed “Sozopolis” (city of salvation / Savior). The name is preserved to this day only in the cities of Sozopol and Suza, Egypt. In the Midlevel period it was prestigious for cities to hold Holy relics or to proclaim the birthplace of a saint. This is the probable reason that the citizens of the Sozopol have seized the glory of the saint’s hometown by using the same names of settlements. Even today, the older members of the Christian community in the city believe that the saint’s birthplace is here.
The relief marked the year 1857, during which the temple was probably consecrated. The construction cost 3250 Turkish groschen and ended on 25.05.1858.
The church is semi-dug, one-apse, with one-nave naos illuminated by windows, located three on the north and south facades. The exterior walls are constructed with well-shaped white blocks of white limestone and finish with a wide, profiled stone cornice. The roof is double sloped. The western facade is most representative. Its silhouette features a triangular pediment with incorporated architectural details from older buildings. The entrance impresses with its architecture and richly decorated door arch, stepped on massive rectangular columns, decorated with floral and geometric motifs. To the right is built-in an antique marble tombstone (stela), dating from the Hellenistic necropolis, 3rd – 2nd century BC.
Until 1890 the temple functioned as a cemetery chapel, after which it was permanently active.
Church “St. Great Martyr George “
The church was built in the center of the Old town of Sozopol on the foundations of an early medieval monastery – the seat of the Metropolitan of Sozopol. The remains of a large medieval basilica, 10th – 17th century AD, were discovered and exposed north of the churchyard.
The rich history of this cult site can be seen in the discovered antique reliefs of the Mother Goddess – Cybele, 6th century BC, a stele with the image of a Thracian horseman, 2nd – 3rd century AD, and fragments of early medieval reliefs and altar partitions.
After the destruction of the medieval temple in the 17th century AD, a new church was erected on the place. A donor inscription, on Greek, is known, which states: “This holy shrine of St Great Martyr George in 1697 at the Bishopric of Kalinik was rebuilt from the ground”. The church continues to be the seat of the bishop of the Sozopol eparchy, but it cannot be stated explicitly that its patron is identical to that of the medieval temple.
The newly built temple is a three-nave, single-apse pseudobasilica, with measurements 17 X 14.5 meters, dug into the ground to a depth of 1 meter. The walls are of solid stone masonry, about 1 meter thick. The naves are separated from each other by a colonnade in two rows, of four columns with circular cross-section, lined with wooden planks and covered with lime. The columns end with capitals, connected in height by slightly arcuate arches. The middle nave is wider and has an arched wooden cover. The side naves have a two-sided wooden ceiling. The architectural style is characteristic of the building traditions in Bulgarian church architecture around and after the middle of the 19th century AD.
In 1860, a major reconstruction of the temple was completed and the interior was completely renovated. In the early 20th century AD, due to urban development reasons, the western part was cut short as a result of the construction of the central street “Apollonia”. In 1953, a massive bell tower was erected to the church, replacing the old wooden bell tower, which existed until 1948.
The complex is an architectural monument of culture of local importance, completely restored in the 1990s. The relics of St. John the Baptist, particle of the Holy Cross and chrism from the tomb of St. Nicholas.