A Day at the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria

Located about 110 km outside of Sofia, Bulgaria is the Rila Monastery. It was the highlight of my trip to Sofia and made an otherwise dull visit quite exciting. The monastery was founded by the hermit St. Ivan of Rila and was built by his students while he lived in a cave.

The original Rila Monastery was destroyed but re-erected at its present place during the 14th century. The oldest buildings are the Tower of Hrelyu (1334) and a small church just next to it (1343). Most of the monastery was destroyed by fire in 1833 and reconstructed between 1834 and 1862. It’s a beautiful place. Take a look:

The church of St. Ivan, who lived in the cave next door to Rila Monestary
The church of St. Ivan, who lived in the cave next door.

A restaurant near the Rila Monastery
A restaurant near the monastery.

The entrance into the Rila Monastery
The entrance into Rila.

The Rila Monastery and the mountains
Rila and the mountains.

Some of the best religious art I've seen covering the Rila Monastery
Some of the best religious art I’ve seen covering the monastery.

More of the best religious art I've seen covering the Rila Monastery
More of the best religious art I’ve seen covering the monastery.

The front of the church at the Rila Monestery
The front of the church.

Another view of the church at the Rila Monastery
Another view of the church.

The church and bell tower at the Rila Monastery
The church and bell tower.

The courtyard at the Rila Monastery
The monastery courtyard.

18 Comments
  1. This is very interesting, I love visiting places like this one. I like your first picture of St. Ivan’s church, looks very old and somehow “intimate”.

  2. Great pics! Would you say that it is worth going to Sofia because of the Rila Monastery, or would you have skipped the trip altogether knowing what you know now? I haven’t yet been yet but would like to get a better idea for how to budget time/resources in visiting…

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