From 9:00 to 17:00
Price: 50 €
The Price includes transport to the monastery, lunch at a local restaurant and a tour guide for the monastery. Registration and payment will be done on arrival.
The Rila Monastery
The Rila monastery is amongst the most important cultural and historical Bulgarian monuments. It has played an influential and significant role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Throughout the Ottoman rule (1400 – 1878) the monastery became the symbol of Bulgarian cultural identity. Moreover, It has been the seat of preservation and development of national culture in all its various manifestations for centuries. Today, the complex is the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria and it is regarded as one of the most eminent masterpieces of the Bulgarian Revival Architecture. In 1983 the monastery became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The monastery was founded in the 10th century amongst the lush southwestern Rila Mountains, nowadays approximately 120 km from the capital Sofia. More than ten centuries ago, the reverend Ivan Rilsky (876 – 946), considered today the most respected Bulgarian saint and cleric, settled down in the Rila Mountain where years later with the help of his students he built a monastery. As the years passed, the monastery was rebuilt, destroyed and reconstructed many times, and hence – it has shifted from its initial location. In the past, the building was located upstream the river Rila where the remains of Ivan Rilsky rest today.
Today, the Tower of Hreliov and the main church are located in the heart of the monastery’s yard, surrounded by around 300 monastic apartments with unique architecture. The complex has its own library and in fact, the collection is one of the richest in the Balkans – 250 manuscript books from the 11th to 19thcentury and around 9000 manuscripts and old-printed books. The museum’s historical collection is also very abundant with over 3500 art objects and amongst them a very special work of art, called the Cross of Rafail. It was made from a single piece of wood (81 х 43 cm) by a monk named Rafail using fine burins and magnifying lenses to recreate 104 religious scenes and 650 miniature figures. Work on this piece of art lasted not less than 12 years before it was completed in 1802, when the monk lost his sight.