An inland sea in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea is surrounded by Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine and connected to the Mediterranean by the Bosphorus Strait. With a long history influenced by various empires, the region encircling the sea is known for its unique cultures and traditions.
From nomadic tribes and later the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Russian Empire, the Black Sea and its surrounding ports have been both politically and commercially central to conquering powers for thousands of years. This range of influences means that each city in this area offers a mixture of historic sites.
Founded in 1825, the Odessa Archaeological Museum in Ukraine boasts more than 160,000 exhibits tracing the history of the northern Black Sea region, including Egyptian relics, Greek pottery and an extensive collection of ancient coins. Another Ukrainian stop, Sevastopol, provides visitors with an opportunity to see cultural remains in their original location at the ruins of the Greek city Khersones, settled as early as the fifth century BC.
Romania’s Constanta offers a similar attraction -- an archaeological park with the remnants of a third-century Roman city wall and Roman sculptures. Pieces of the Roman civilization still stand in the Bulgarian city of Varna too: the Roman Thermae, or baths, are a must-see for those interested in the ancient empire’s civic life.
But the cities along the Black Sea coast offer historic sights beyond ruins and relics. Nesebur, a well-preserved town in Bulgaria, is a World Heritage Site and a great place to see medieval churches like the Sveti Stefan Church, which has stunning murals. Turkey also offer a range of treasures from the past, from the charming harbor city of Sinop -- with its 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque and Alaiye Medresse -- to Istanbul’s impressive mosques and eclectic Grand Bazaar.