A Day at the Rila Monastery

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 13th, 2011

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.

comments 18 Comments

Looks picturesque with the mountains and art! Gorgeous and hidden spot it appear to be, minus the abundant supply of travelers.

The Wanderfull Traveler

Looks like an amazing place, beautiful photos!

Did u take all the beautiful pics, Matt? I can’t believe it :P

NomadicMatt

Yes, they are all mine!

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”.

Really like the black-and-white shot of the church contrasted with the color shot just below it.

NomadicMatt

Thanks!

how beautiful – the colors are magical. could you see the cave?

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…

NomadicMatt

I probably would have spent less time in Sofia knowing what I know now.

Thanks.. I’ll keep that in mind:)

Very cool. The church is unique – did you get to see the cave?

NomadicMatt

Yeah, you can climb around it. It’s very, very small.

These are stellar pics Matt! I’m impressed with the different perspective shots you’ve taken & the b&w photo has a timeless appeal.

NomadicMatt

Thanks Sam!

NomadicMatt

I’m glad you loved the post! Great to see you here! Come back again! :)

This is a fantastic place…esp the the cave and all…love to go there….

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