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The only preserved Medieval island monastery in Bulgaria is… on St Anastasia island

Photo: Facebook /@St.AnastasiaIsland

Inconclusive were the results of our latest quiz. The question, published on the pages of all the 10 languages in which Radio Bulgaria maintains content, was: “Where is the only surviving Medieval island monastery in Bulgaria?” The audience had to choose between the islands of St. Ivan near Sozopol, St. Peter near St. Ivan Island, St. Anastasia Island in the Bay of Burgas, St. Thomas Island near Dyuni resort or St. Cyricus Island, Northwest of Sozopol.

In fact, there were medieval monasteries on all these islands, but the only one that has been preserved to this day is the monastery on the island of St. Anastasia.

The correct answer was given by users of our web pages in Bulgarian - 73% of the votes, in Albanian - 67%, in Turkish - 53%, and in Russian - 49%. The Greek-speaking audience also performed quite well, with 76% of voters giving the correct answer.

But it was our French speaking users who did the best! 85% of respondents gave the correct answer. The explanation may lie in the 2011 film "The Island" by Bulgarian director and French graduate Kamen Kalev, starring the incredible Laetitia Casta.

The film was shot on the very St Anastasia island in Burgas Bay, which was called "Bolshevik" until 1991.

The opinions of our English- and German-speaking audiences are divided and both have an equal number of votes for the islands of St. Anastasia and St. Ivan (39% of users on the English page and 41% on the German page). The majority of the Spanish and Serbian audiences of Radio Bulgaria guessed the wrong answer - respectively the island of St. Ivan with 43% and St. Peter with 50%.

What do we need to know about St. Anastasia Island and its monastery of the same name?

The earliest written evidence of the monastery is a document issued by the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II, dated June 1575. The monastery was named after St. Anastasia the Healer, a Great-Martyr of the Christian Church, patron of the sick and the wrongly convicted. Since then the monastery has been through many vicissitudes - it has been burned down many times and has been frequently attacked by pirates. In 1924 it was transformed into a prison, which was later abandoned and left to decay. Today it is an enticing tourist destination, revealing the cultural and historical heritage of the island of Saint Anastasia.

A medicinal shop offering healing herbs and potions, a monastery cell from the Middle Ages where you can spend the night, museum exhibitions, the ancient church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary,because of which the island's birthday falls on 15 August - all this has been attracting tourists since 2014.

Only then, after a year-long restoration, the island was opened to tourists. The visitors are welcome to take a trip through the history of this patch of land in the deep blue sea, or stay longer and eat fresh fish specialties in the local hostelry in the former monastery building.

Thanks to everyone who took part in our quiz, regardless of whether you guessed correctly or not. We hope that once again we have given you a taste of the rich Bulgarian history and cultural heritage that you can visit and see for yourself.

Keep being curious and continue to participate in our questionnaires.

The new question has a twist of an Italian adventure: "Which Bulgarian sculptor made the statue of Leonardo da Vinci at Rome's Fiumicino Airport"?

Photos: Facebook /@St.AnastasiaIsland, BGNES, archive

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