St. Anastasia Island is turning into a visiting card of the region and major attraction on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast after being completely restored and renovated under a European project.
The island was inhabited by monks in the 14th century; pirates burned repeatedly the monastery buildings; and in 1923 the government turned it into a prison for opponents of the regime. In 1945 prisoners were sent again to the island, this time by the new "power of the people". The entire turbulent history of the island will be preserved and exhibited in the building of the former monastery.
Today, after the restoration and reconstruction, there are no traces left of this dramatic past. Everything looks like an ethnographic complex, but as one carried on an island in the sea. Even rainwater from the roofs is drained by tile gutters into a well. The monastery has been turned into a museum and a hotel complex. The rooms that will accommodate the tourists are in line with the spirit of the place and are made of authentic materials - wood and stone.
The church of the island is the oldest building. It is dated back to the period between the 12th and the14th century. It is famous for its unique wooden carvings. Some of the frescoes - also from the 14th century - have been restored too.
Another interesting touch of the new tourist destination is the "Lekarna" (“Healing Place”). There is a small garden on the roof and, if you wish, you can select and pick the herbs yourself, from which your tea to be prepared afterwards. The Monastery Lekarna will offer special liqueurs typical only for this region; mixtures of wild fruits and honey by a Monastery’s recipe. One of the herbs growing on the island can be met only there. It will be used as a spice in one of the recipes of the restaurant on the island. And, as the largest natural mussel plantation is around the St. Anastasia Island, many of the dishes will be namely seafood.
The island can be reached by ship departing from the Bridge in the Sea Garden of Bourgas. Except for tour groups, free access to St. Anastasia will be granted for individual visitors too. "Tour operators liked the island very much as one of the tourist attractions in the Bourgas Bay," remarked the Mayor of Bourgas Dimitar Nikolov adding that they had already started with the bookings for the coming summer season when the island will be included in the tourist packages of the tour operators.