St. Anastasia Island in Black Sea Is Top Cultural Tourism Destination in Bulgaria’s Burgas, Mayor Says

The St. Anastasia Island in the Black Sea is increasingly popular with local and foreign tourists visiting Bulgaria’s Burgas. Photo: Burgas Municipality

Bulgaria’s tiny Black Sea island of St. Anastasia located off the coast of the city of Burgas is one of the city’s top cultural tourism destinations, its Mayor has declared.

The St. Anastasia Island has a total area of 0.01 square kilometers (10 decares or 2.5 acres), and is located 6.5 km southeast of the city of Burgas.

It is one out of several tiny islands off the Bulgarian coast in the Black Sea which are part of Bulgaria’s national territory.

In 2010, the Bulgarian government created a precedent by granting Burgas Municipality management rights over the St. Anastasia Island (known as the Bolshevik Island between 1945 and 1990, i.e. during Bulgaria’s communist period).

“The St. Anastasia Island is a preferred destination among the tourists [visiting] the Burgas region," Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov has said at a news conference, as cited by BTA.

The St. Anastasia Island in the Black Sea welcomed its first tourists for the 2018 summer season in early April in spite of a setback suffered back in February when a ship used to take tourists to the island during the past few summers was sunken by a storm in the harbor of the Black Sea town of Pomorie, in the Pomorie Bay, where it had been anchored.

According to Nikolov, new international low-cost flights started by a second low-cost carrier to fly to Bulgaria’s Black Sea city have already boosted the foreign tourist numbers even before the start of the 2018 summer season.

This is also expected to lead to a boost in the number of visitors making the round trip to the St. Anastasia Island by ship.

The new low-cost flights connect Burgas with cities in Estonia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland.

Nikolov has quoted representatives of the low-cost carried as saying that the flights to Burgas, which were introduced only two weeks ago, are 90% occupied, which has surpassed the company’s initial expectations.

The St. Anastasia Island had a medieval monastery with the same name known from 16th century sources.

It was used to jail political prisoners by the authorities of the Tsardom of Bulgaria after the leftist September Uprising of 1923 (instigated by the Soviet Union), and then by the authorities of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.

Burgas Municipality has been working to develop the St. Anastasia Island, essentially a former prison in much of the 20th century, as a cultural tourism destination since 2010. Photos: Burgas Municipality

Today the St. Anastasia Island is the only populated Bulgarian island in the Black Sea.

Ever since it gained the management rights in 2010, Burgas Municipality has taken up the development of the St. Anastasia Island as a popular destination for cultural tourism with regular sea transport.

The largest and most famous of Bulgaria’s Black Sea islands is the St. Ivan Island off the coast of Sozopol, with a total area of 0.66 square km (660 decares, or 163 acres), which is known for its Early Christian / Early Byzantine monastery where in 2010 relics of St. John the Baptists were discovered by Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov.

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