St John the Baptist Church in Nessebar

The stylistic richness, architectural design, picturesque decorative effects and spiritual charge of the Nesebar churches are one of the definitive reasons for inscription of the city in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Church of St. John the Baptist is of key importance for Nessebar. It is the only church preserved in the city, which is: a representative of the transitional type from basilica towards cross-domed church; with supposed murals on the facades; with a patron saint associated with the sea, a transitional figure between the Old and the New Testament.

Firstly, the project recognises the importance of the church in the old town of Nesebar and following this idea it states its unifying role as a place of culture in the context of an overall proposal for the expression of the medieval churches as a system.

Secondly, the proposed organisation of the immediate environment of the church aims at the contemporary reinvention and marking of the traditional space in front of the building. Elements of reinforced concrete with integrated graphics are used – the monogram of St. John the Baptist and words of the saint.

Finally, the proposed intervention in the church is based on a thorough analysis of all its unique valuable characteristics – for each of them is developed a concept for a particular expression. Thus the Church is manifested as a living place for contemporary interactive education in various fields: architecture, constructions, acoustics, art, religion, cultural heritage conservation… The main principles and objectives that are followed are: to preserve the sacredness of the altar space; to protect the authenticity and expression of: the architectural vision and volume, structure, construction, original plaster and murals; and to enshrine the meaningful spiritual message of the building, preserved over the centuries and presented in an understandable way for all.

Archaeological excavations were carried out in parallel with the implementation of the restoration works. They revealed series of funerals, structures of a baptistery and a Hellenistic building. These studies also proved that the St John the Baptist church is built on the foundations of an early Christian basilica – marked within the flooring in the course of project implementation.


  • Authors:
    Velina Pandjarova, Donika Georgieva, Miroslav Velkov
  • Collaborators:
    Iva Stoyanova, Irina Dobreva, Milena Lozanova (architects), Krasimira Frangova (conservation), Atanas Georgiev, Nikola Angelov, Vladimir Kostov, Aleksandar Trichkov (structural engineers), Encho Mechkarov (HVAC), Rumen Radulov (electrical engineer), Maria Atanasova (WSS), Emil Petkov (surveyor)
  • Year: 2010-2014
  • Client: Municipality of Nessebar
  • Status: completed
  • Status:
    First prize entitled to realisation – closed competition of the Bulgarian National Committee of ICOMOS, January 2010
  • More Info:
    The project is realised with the financial support of Operational Programme "Regional Development" 2007-2013, financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The project is supported by the Bulgarian National Committee of ICOMOS.