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Rila Monastery, Rila

4.8
#1 of 6 in Things to do in Rila
Must see · World heritage site · Historic Site · Religious Site
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Visit Rila Monastery, the oldest religious center in the Slavic world, to appreciate the harmony between architecture and painting. The students of St. Ivan of Rila built the monastery in the 10th century near the hermit ascetic's cave and tomb. This World Heritage site is a cultural and spiritual center of Bulgarian national consciousness. The main church features beautiful frescoes and a gold-plated iconostasis, famous for its wood carvings. Don't miss Rafail's Cross in the monastery museum, which depicts 104 religious scenes and includes 650 miniature figures. At the end of the 18th century, a monk named Rafail used magnifying lenses to whittle the wooden cross. It took him 12 years to complete the cross, and the work cost him his sight. Plan your Rila Monastery visit and explore what else you can see and do in Rila using our Rila trip itinerary builder tool.
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Rila Monastery reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
1,907 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Great to have the foreign customers here. A self-guided tour helped us a lot thanks to VisitBulgariaOn. Great stuff! 
    Great to have the foreign customers here. A self-guided tour helped us a lot thanks to VisitBulgariaOn. Great stuff!  more »
  • The most beautiful and inspiring monetary I’ve ever seen! Don’t miss the chimney in the museum as well as the food. Everything here is amazing. 
    The most beautiful and inspiring monetary I’ve ever seen! Don’t miss the chimney in the museum as well as the food. Everything here is amazing.  more »
Google
  • Wonderful monastery with simply fantastic frescos. The atmosphere is nice here. Also a lovely area in the mountains. You can stay the night at the monastery, booking via phone, see their website. If you stay the night you can take pictures when all tourists are gone, and in the dark. Highly recommended!
  • It was a great experience to visit the Rila Monastery. The drive up the mountain offers some spectacular views but nothing compared to the actual complex of buildings. The church but also the surrounding buildings that make up the courtyard are quite special considering their age (free entrance). Everything is in good shape and there are many small museums which explain the daily life and history of a Monastery (paid entrance). Don't forget to walk around the Monastery, see the other pictures.

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