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Rila Monastery, Rila

4.8
#1 of 6 in Things to do in Rila
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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1,298 reviews
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4.8
TripAdvisor
  • After about a 2 hour drive from Sofia, we arrived at Rila Monastery about 1000 meters up in the Rila mountains. This place was founded by St John in the 10th century and he was the primary person resp...  more »
  • So many stories drawing around and inside the building, I don't understand though. However, I was very impressive. The architecture is really beautiful and attractive. The weather was colder than down...  more »
  • A beautiful setting to breathtaking architecture. We hired a car from Sofia and took us under 2 hours to reach the monastery. Quite a rainy day but that didn’t change anything. Not many tourists at ar...  more »
Google
  • A beautiful monastery set in a stunning landscape. Absolutely worth a visit. You can certainly understand why somebody would feel spiritual or close to God in this location even if you are not religious. It is a really wonderful area. Due to the location being quite a way a way from any of the major local towns I would recommend taking a tour rather than attempting public transport. There are a number of places to get food and drink just outside the monastery, and the views outside of the mountains are amazing.
  • A big monastery surrounded by mountains. We went there on a rainy/cloudy day. Has very nice architecture and paintings. There is a cemetery at back. Parking is paid unless you park before on the side of the highway. Has toilets. Has also some snacks to buy and eat outside there. It's a touristic place with tourist buses.
  • Nice monastery. Good for around two hours of leisurely walking. There's a little graveyard, a pretty chapel, a bakery and a decent restaurant nearby. From Sofia you can arrange transport.
  • Beautiful place, there is a museum and an church that can be visited. Can't go see upstairs though which is a shame because the view looked fantastic. There are some shops too if you want to get a little souvenir but they all sell a lot of same stuff.
  • A must do visit if you're staying in Sofia. It makes a great 8 hour trip combined with Boyana church. The monastery is early 19 century and has some great frescos depicting biblical stories in graphic form. Almost like a comic strip. Wonderful depictions of good & evil. Monastery is set within beautiful mountain scenery and worth following the path down to the river to see the graveyard and cascading waterfalls. A great day out.
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18 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM TAIWAN November, culture, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, slow & easy, popular sights PREFERENCES: November, culture, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Slow & easy 14 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM TAIWAN November, culture, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: November, culture, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 14 days in Athens & Sofia BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, popular sights PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 5 days in Sofia BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND December, culture, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping, slow & easy, popular sights PREFERENCES: December, culture, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Slow & easy 3 days in Velingrad BY A USER FROM BULGARIA October, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: October, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 4 days in Sofia BY A USER FROM MALAYSIA January, popular sights PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 56 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM INDIA November, popular sights PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 5 days in Sofia BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM November, popular sights PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 15 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM SAUDI ARABIA May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 4 days in Sofia BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM May, slow & easy, popular sights PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Slow & easy 4 days in Sofia BY A USER FROM ISRAEL October, popular sights PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 7 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM April, popular sights PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium
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