Trip Planner:   Europe  /  Bulgaria  /  Sofia Region  /  Rila  /  Religious Sites  /  Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery, Rila
(4.8/5 based on 850+ reviews on the web)
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
  • Tour that deserves to be done, especially with a guide at the side who can tell the curiosity and the history of the monastery and its protagonists. Museum worth just for the cross carved (by a single monk, who has worked for 12 years). Recommend five minutes along the Brook to take some pictures. The main church with imposing iconostasis. Nice to see the Orthodox traditions and dwell on the meanings of the frescoes.
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  • Loved it, though I think it is better if you can find a bus or rent s car to go there. I was s bit disapointed at thr toyr I took. For 35eur I expected something more included, but you had to pay for ...  more »
  • It is not only recommended to go there, it is a sin not to visit. Quite an amazing place where you get in contact with a heritage that is not only visible but can be felt from the moment you get there...  more »
Google
  • Wonderful place with amazing views. Mountains around the monastery are also great for walking there. Definetely worth seeing.
  • LARGE MONASTERY IN THE MOUNTAINS ABOUT A 2 HOUR DRIVE FROM SOFIA. BEAUTIFUL WALL PAINTINGS, WOODEN CARVED EXTERIOR. SPACIOUS COURTYARD. LOVELY VIEW OF THE NEARBY MOUNTAINS.
  • Extremely beautiful place in the middle of the montains.
  • Very nice place to visit. 5 stars.
  • Being the holiest place in Bulgaria, the Unesco listed Rila monastery, even under rains, attracted lot of tourists and pilgrims. The entrance colonnades surrounding the cathedral has colourful murals and painting covering all wall and domed-ceiling spaces, showing images not only the Saints, but also demons and the scenes in the hell, which was rarely seen in other cathedral. It take around 2 .5 hour to arrive there from Sofia by public bus and you need around 2 hours to explore the whole complex.