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.
A restaurant near the monastery.
The entrance into Rila.
Rila and the mountains.
Some of the best religious art I’ve seen, covering the monastery.
More of the best religious art I’ve seen, covering the monastery.
The front of the church.
Another view of the church.
The church and bell tower.
The monastery courtyard.