St. Anastasia Island is the most romantic place in the Burgas Bay, shrouded in mystery, pirate stories, and the scent of herbs and medicinal herbs. Visiting the island by boat is part of our gastro tour “Tastes of The Black Sea Strandzha”. Turned into a prison and the capital of Burgas bohemia, today St. Anastasia is the only inhabitable island in our country, as well as the only preserved monastery, declared in 2001 a cultural and historical landmark.
The island covers an area of eight acres and has a rich and colorful history, mixed with many legends of pirate raids and saints with magical skills. It has been inhabited since the late antiquity (IV-VI century), which is evidenced by the ceramic finds found during the 1973 underwater research. For the first time at the end of the 17th century the island was mapped on the Black Sea by the Dutch cartographer Nikolaos Witsen.
In the 15th century, the monastery of St. Anastasia Pharmacolithria (Healer) already existed here – the only island monastery in Bulgaria, part of which is preserved to this day. During the Middle Ages, such spiritual centers existed on the Sozopol islands of St. Kirik and Julita, St. Thomas and St. Ivan, but now only ruins remain. During the Middle Ages, the monastery on the island of St. Anastasia was often attacked by pirates and robbers, and the reason for the raids was a golden treasure hidden in the foundations of the building.
During one of the next attacks on the holy monastery, the monks came ashore with an icon of St. Anastasia aimed at the water. An unprecedented storm set in, sinking the approaching pirate ship. With a dose of imagination, even today this ship can be seen at the foot of the rocks in the distance. The monastery church “Assumption” has a beautiful wooden iconostasis from 1802.
Nearby is the “Gate of the Sun” – a Thracian sanctuary that welcomes the first rays of the day. The lighthouse, built on the island by French engineers in 1889, is also remarkable. Its light was visible from 10 miles in clear weather. The new lighthouse on the island of St. Anastasia was built in 1912 and was lit for the first time on June 13, 1914.
In 1923, the island monastery was turned into a prison, where 132 communists and farmers were exiled. however, the maintenance of the prison was very difficult and the government transferred the prisoners to Burgas. After the attack on Sofia’s Sveta Nedelya Church in April 1925, Sveta Anastasia became a prison again, from which 43 detainees escaped in two rowing boats to Cape Chukalya, from where they hid in the Strandzha Mountain. In the twentieth century the island was called Bolshevik.
St. Anastasia Island For 20 years in the twentieth century, St. Anastasia Island was the favorite place of the Burgas creative bohemian, and one of its brightest representatives at that time was the poet Hristo Fotev, who spent most of his time there. The films “On the Small Island” by Rangel Valchanov and “The Island” by Kamen Kalev, starring Leticia Casta, were shot on the island. On the island of St. Anastasia today there is a so-called Pharmacy, which offers miraculous herbs and potions. Saint Anastasia Pharmacolithria herself is one of the few women martyrs revered by both the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church.
She was born in Rome to a senator and a Christian family. she was forcibly married to a senator, after whose death she began to use her wealth to alleviate the suffering of Christians imprisoned. In those days they were severely persecuted by Emperor Diocletian. Helping them, Anastasia gradually learned the medical craft to perfection and became a legendary healer. That is why it was called Pharmacolitria, which in Greek means “savior from suffering.”
Realizing that she was a Christian, the emperor threw her in prison, where she was left without food for two months, but still survived. Together with 121 other prisoners, she was loaded on a wrecked ship, which, thanks to Anastasia’s prayers, did not sink and the prisoners managed to reach the nearest shore. St. Anastasia When he learned that Anastasia was alive again, the governor of Illyricum ordered her to be crucified between four pillars and to be burned alive.
St. Anastasia died, but the fire failed to destroy her body and it remained intact. The memory of the saint is honored on the day of her martyrdom – December 22. It is believed that the island of St. Anastasia overflows with positive energy due to the unusually high content of metal ores in the earth. Here the air is extremely clean, with the scent of olive trees and lemon balm. A really wonderful place that each of us can visit.
The photos in the post are from the page of St. Anastasia Island on Facebook