Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila

Visiting the Rila Monastery was definitely an outstanding experience on our trip through Bulgaria!

Rila Monastery is situated in the Rila Mountains, 117 km south of Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at 1.147m. Already the drive into the valley was beautiful. We passed many restaurants which offer trout from the Rilska River.

The monastery is named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 – 946 AD). It was founded in the 10th century and is regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments. It still houses around 60 monks.

The monastery is a big tourist attraction

The monastery was destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times, the last time after a fire in the 19th century. The monastery complex is one of the masterpieces of Bulgarian National Revival architecture and the museum houses many religious treasures.

Monk’s cell

The hermit Ivan of Rila actually lived not far from the monastery’s location in a cave without any material possessions. The first monastery was built by his students, who came to the mountains to receive their education. We decided to go there too, climbing into the hills to find the famous cave.

Steep and rocky walk
Chapel which houses Ivan’s sarcophagus
Ivan’s cave
From Rila we drove a little north to get to a camping ground which was not far from Sofia. In the evening we were surprised by a folklore presentation of local singers and dancers which gave a great impression of the the Bulgarian culture.
Flower of the Day

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