Destination Award Finalist
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Preserving a town's heritage while ensuring it meets the demands of the present, is always a challenge. Doing it when your town's history stretches back to 611 B.C. is even harder. That the Bulgarian seaside town of Sozopol has done all this while ensuring the highest levels of inclusive access is what makes it a finalist for the Destination Award.
Located on the Gulf of Burgas, Sozopol is the oldest town on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast. Once known as Appolonia, it was an important trading port in the time of Ancient Greece. Today there are still buildings and ruins stretching back to the fourth century, along with a wonderfully intact old town of cobbled streets and medieval stone and wood houses.
In 2002 the Sozopol Foundation was established to ensure the town's sustainability as it grew in popularity with tourists. At that time the coastline was dirty, strewn with waste and there were constant leaks from the sewers. Today not only has the town been restored using local labour and the most authentic building materials available, it has been done so as to make it accessible to as many people as possible too - so much so that Sozopol is one of just six members of the League of Historical and Accessible Cities.
The foundation has also created an initiative called STRING (Smart Tourist Routes for Inclusive Groups) that is designed to connect Sozopol with other similarly accessible cities in the region. Eventually nine fully accessible tourist routes through Italy, Spain and Bulgaria will be developed into complete tourist packages. With such inclusive and thought out efforts, Sozopol is putting Bulgaria's ancient heritage firmly back on the map.