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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. 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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1,106 reviews
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4.8
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  • 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 »
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 :)
  • Wonderful place! Definitely worth visiting! The best is to get there by car and stop on the way in multiple picturesque spots!
  • No words can describe it! One of the most spiritual places in majestic Bulgaria!

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5 days in Rila BY A USER FROM CANADA May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 17 days in Bulgaria & Romania BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, popular PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 6 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM PORTUGAL October, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: October, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Europe BY A USER FROM NEPAL June, teens, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, shopping, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, teens, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 47 days in Europe BY A USER FROM CROATIA October, popular PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 30 days in Europe BY A USER FROM CROATIA December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Rila BY A USER FROM ISRAEL September, outdoors, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: September, outdoors, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 1 day in Rila BY A USER FROM BULGARIA September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Rila BY A USER FROM ISRAEL September, outdoors, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: September, outdoors, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 9 days in Rila, Greece & Saranda BY A USER FROM BULGARIA September, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: September, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in Rila BY A USER FROM BULGARIA September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 1 day in Rila BY A USER FROM JORDAN August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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