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Church of Saint Sophia

8230, Nesebar, Bulgaria

The Church of Saint Sofia, also known as the Old Bishopric, is an Eastern Orthodox church in the Bulgarian city of Nesebar. It is located in the historic district of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top 100 tourist attractions in Bulgaria.

The church is situated in what is believed to have been the old city’s center. It is a basilica with three unvaulted naves, a semicircular apse, a narthex, and an atrium. The church has a total of 25.5 m in length and 13 m in breadth. Two rows of five pillars each used to divide the nave into three halves. The 9.3-meter-wide main nave concludes to the east with a large, closed apse that is round on the exterior and three-sided on the interior. Above the apse on the eastern side are three arched windows. Previously, the basilica had a double-sloped roof that has not been maintained. The inside of the church was formerly plastered and later decorated with frescoes. The whole floor was formerly covered with mosaics comprised of small colored stones. It features a mixture of stone and brick construction and is the biggest of the Nesebar churches with a surviving aboveground structure.

Basilica construction occurred during the late 5th and early 6th centuries. When it was renovated at the beginning of the 9th century, it took on its current look. During the Middle Ages, it functioned as the cathedral for the Nesebar-centered bishopric eparchy. In 1257, during a battle against the Bulgarian Empire, the Venetians pillaged the Church of San Salvatore in Venice and stole several sacred treasures. The basilica was deserted in the eighteenth century.

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