ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESERVE "ISLANDS ST. IVAN AND ST. PETER"
Islands St.Ivan and St.Peter, near Sozopol
On the island St. Ivan, near Sozopol, in the middle of the 5th century an early Christian basilica was built, around which during the next centuries developed one of the greatest Christian center along the Black Sea coast - the monastery "St. John the Baptist". In the middle of the 12th century, a second basilica with rich decoration was erected here in honour of the monastery's patron. In the following centuries the monastery attracted many monks and became the most important Byzantine literary center in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. In the monastery library /scriptorium/ worked very high educated monks, who copied liturgical books and made translations from Greek to Bulgarian. This allowed the monastery to become a big publisher of liturgical and secular literature as well as an active propagator of the Christian culture. The earliest books produced here date in the 10th century, and most valuable preserved till now is the novel "Barlaam and Yoasaf" from the 12th century, which is kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The monastery's busy literary activity continued even in the first centuries of the Ottoman rule. In 1623 the monastery was pillaged in fighting between the Cossack pirates of the Northern coast and the Turkish fleet.
On August 29th, 2010 during archaeological research under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Kazimir Popkonstantinov and Phd. Tsonya Drazheva, in the earliest church of the medieval monastery of St. John the Baptist built in the early 5th century, a sealed reliquary was discovered with preserved relics of a saint. An inscription on the supporting stone box attests that these are relics of the monastery’s patron St. John the Baptist, laid in the sacra mensa. This finding confirms the importance of the monastery as a major Christian center in the South-eastern Balkans.
Status of national archaeological reserve. The medieval monastery "St. John the Baptist" continues to be researched; under ongoing restoration and conservation.
St. Peter and St. Ivan islands have been declared Nature Reserve due to a colony of underground rabbit inhabiting the rocky island. The access to both islands is strictly prohibited by ministerial decree during the period April-July (July, 30) when the largest colony of seagulls on the Black Sea coast nests here.
Island of "St. Ivan" near Sozopol is the largest island in the Black Sea. Access is done by boat from the port of Sozopol. On the island there are two harbours, of which leave marked trails leading to the archaeological monument - the monastery "St. John the Baptist."