Mayor of Nessebar, Bulgaria (October 2014)
Nikolai Kirilov Dimitrov was born on 11 May 1965. He went to the local school in Nessebar. He graduated from the Industrial chemistry college and the Institute of International Tourism.
He obtained his higher education at Bourgas Free University in the Economics and Management of Tourism faculty. He defended a master degree in Public and Territorial Administration as well as in Ecology and Environment Keeping.
He speaks German, English, Russian and Czechoslovakian.
1. The Ancient City of Nessebar was registered on the list of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO in 1983. What impact has this nomination had on your city?
The inscription of Ancient Nessebar on the list of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1983 was a recognition of the rich culture and history of the city for more than three thousand years. The heritage of Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians alongside with the National Revival architecture were registered as eternal values of the humanity and Nessebar has been the only Bulgarian city of UNESCO for thirty-one years now. That is a great pride and big responsibility. The approach to the cultural heritage has been altered according to the recommendations of UNESCO. All international agreements such as the City’s Historic Preservation Chart and the directions of The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for management of historical ensembles have been taken into consideration. Nessebar is a live and dynamic city and the imposed rules enter into a complicated interaction with the general natural, geographic, social and economic context. On the other hand this nomination attracts holidaymakers who like the combination of the ancient city of Nessebar and the modern seaside resort of Sunny Beach. The effective preservation of the city results in sustainable economic development of the municipality.
2. In your opinion what is the vital role of a mayor when a site has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List?
To be the mayor of a world cultural heritage city is a great responsibility on a national and international level. The preservation and conservation of such an old city and the effort to make it popular require extreme devotion bearing in mind that some of the regulations are restrictive and contradict with the real necessities of the live city. That is why the contemporary policy of preservation, use and management of the heritage should be made popular, understandable and acceptable. To be more convincing together with experts of UNESCO and ICOMOS we work out plans based on the international experience in this area. The mayor of Nessebar has the responsibility and mission to preserve the historical heritage for the generations to come.
3. In concrete, what actions have you taken to protect and enhance your heritage?
At the very beginning of my mayor’s mandate in 2007 the municipal administration became aware of the existing problems threatening the reputation of Nessebar as a world heritage site. The first initiative we undertook was titled “Ï Love Nessebar”. It was aimed at the children and young people to educate them to love and keep the city, be responsible and proud of living in it. They have participated in its social life and volunteered in all public activities for more than seven years. We started decreasing the level of the street trade. This is a gradual process because it is difficult to balance the requirements of UNESCO with the local interests. The first steps were to remove the stalls from the central parts, set up a craftsmen street and small bazaars on the seaside alleys. “Green Nessebar” was another initiative for keeping the Bulgarian Black sea coast, the local nature, green areas and parks clean. The Plan for Preservation and Management of Ancient Nessebar required the improper advertisements to be removed, the street umbrellas and restaurant shelters to be unified. I would like to point out that all these measures have been taken with the approval of the local residents who have realized it is being done to improve the appearance and the city status. Both holidaymakers and representatives of official bodies like the Diplomatic Corps, the Secretary General of the Organization of World Heritage Cities Mr Denis Ricard and many others declare that Nessebar boasts a world level. We are proud to say that many cruise ships with about thirty thousand passengers on board drop anchor in the port of Nessebar. Around forty thousand people visit the old town daily to admire its beauty and uniqueness. The contemporary approach to the cultural heritage demands its preservation and integration within the living environment. The Plan for Preservation and Management of Ancient Nessebar is a manual of actions to combine the history and the present in an eternal process. Mention should be made of Faith in Nessebar project. It was supported financially by Regional Development Operative Program and co financed by The European Fund. The project included conservation, restoration and socialization of the churches of St John the Baptist, St Paraskeva and St Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The three of them form a cultural route called Spiritual Path. The churches have obtained a new function and they can be the scene of concerts, theatrical and artistic activities. Our main purpose is to keep the natural assets and the cultural values in harmony, to combine architecture, nature and sea in one whole as the city has been through the centuries.
4. Do you hold special events to enhance your city?
Besides being a city of UNESCO Nessebar is the centre of the biggest tourist destination in Bulgaria. The municipality organizes free international, national and local festivals throughout the tourist season. About five thousand participants from nine countries take part in the festivals Sun, Joy, Beauty and Constellations in Nessebar. We house a European and World Folklore Competition too. The Assumption of Our Lady religious holiday on 15th August is the festive day of Nessebar. The city becomes one big scene for various cultural events which end with a spectacular sound and light show. Autumn Shoals festival dedicated to fishing is organized on the international day of the Black sea. Many people attend the winter Weekend of Love and Wine on 14th February. The local festivals of bread and young wine attract visitors outside the tourist season. Bulgarian and foreign scientists participate in Bulgaria Pontica history forum.
5. Nessebar has two tourist clienteles: one that is more “cultural”, attracted by the ancient city, and one that is more for “holidaymakers”, attracted by the hotels and the sandy beaches along the coastline. Have you develop a policy to attract “beach tourism to “cultural” tourism?
The combination of sea and mountain is the perfect condition for the development of the recreative tourism. Sunny Beach seaside resort which has gained a worldwide popularity is within walking distance. Some of the biggest tourist companies operate in the resort. The holidaymakers can take advantage of sightseeing tours of Nessebar. To provide more facilities we have enlarged the parking areas and have restricted the access of vehicles into the old city. Ancient Nessebar has been featured in tourist catalogues, guidebooks, folders and cruise voyages.
6. What makes Nessebar such a special Place?
If there is a city erupted from the bottom of the sea to its blue surface like an exquisite shell filled with the music of the history and the beauty of the past milleniums
If there is a city seized by the isthmus to the land, to our hearts and souls
If there is a city where to find yourself you should get lost in the narrow cobbled streets
If there is a city……… This is the god blessed Nessebar.
Nessebar is the land of your admiration, the eternal century old magic. It is the pearl on the crown of the Bulgarian self-esteem.
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