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Rila Monastery, Rila

4.8
#2 of 18 in Historic Sites in Sofia Region
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. Use our Rila vacation planner to arrange your visit to Rila Monastery and other attractions in Rila.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
1,106 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • August 16, 2017
    Did the monastery as part of a prepaid shuttle that took us to the rila mountains (which we spent 5 hours climbing - amazing!) and then 2 hours at the monastery. Thought 2 hours was way too long and w...  more »
  • August 15, 2017
    First it must be said that if you are not interested in art and culture is needless to take it to go. Otherwise, it should be absolutely visited! Don't pay any attention to those who say that the road is inconvenient. For the most part take a great Highway, to the other side it goes to a normal mountain road where you will find the monastery. In that mountain, you have to face some curves: but nothing fancy. I went with a private car with driver. He asked 180 lv but I have treated. I think you can go with driver, for even less. That said, the place is wonderful. Including context, of great natural value. You only pay for the Museum, the Tower, the kitchens and the cells. I didn't see any of that. But any claim that is not essential to see them. The Church is beautiful, a place of worship and devotion for the entire Bulgarian nation. Watch out for restaurants outside. The first, at the exit opposite the entrance, is populated by rude waiters and unfriendly. Later, and not seen immediately just outside the monastery, there are other solutions. Better to compare ... In conclusion, the visit is absolutely recommended to anyone who goes to places even to understand the culture of a people. And, if you go to Sofia, you would include the half if you do not see. I forgot: the frieze of Unesco is absolutely deserved!
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  • August 15, 2017
    Only by visiting the monastery is worth the trip to Bulgaria. Precious well-preserved monastery. Recommended search guide in Spanish from Sofia.
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  • May 7, 2017
    The many accolades are well deserved as it is indeed a magical place that has a very special place in Bulgarian history. It is frequented by thousands of tourists each day, so it is not a "hole in the wall" kind of place. However, be aware that the only WC's that my wife and I could find both had "hole in the floor" toilets (both genders), which is both challenging to use and disgusting in such a heavily visited site.
  • March 12, 2017
    This ancient monastery is probably the most famous day trip from Sofia. It is not a short journey but it is totally worth the venture. The site looks even better with snow. The local sweet bread is certainty worth a try.
  • May 19, 2017
    A great place to visit. The road is renovated and it is very easy to drive up in the mountain. Atmosphere in the monastery is amazing. Dont miss the monastery's oven an its bread and mekitsi :)
  • May 20, 2017
    Wonderful place! Definitely worth visiting! The best is to get there by car and stop on the way in multiple picturesque spots!
  • June 29, 2017
    No words can describe it! One of the most spiritual places in majestic Bulgaria!

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