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Rila Monastery, Rila

4.8
#2 of 150 in Things to do in Sofia Region
Religious Site Historic Site
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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9 days in Central Macedonia & Rila BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 16 days in Greece & Rila BY A USER FROM ROMANIA August, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 11 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA September, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 6 days in Lovech, Plovdiv & Rila BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA October, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 13 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM BULGARIA August, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: August, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 18 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM ISRAEL August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 34 days in Bulgaria & Greece BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: June, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 40 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 16 days in Greece & Rila BY A USER FROM ROMANIA August, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 7 days in Sofia & Rila BY A USER FROM ISRAEL August, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, museums, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 23 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Rila BY A USER FROM CZECH REPUBLIC June, outdoors, popular PREFERENCES: June, outdoors ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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1,033 reviews
Google
4.8
  • This monastery was the highlight of my trip to Bulgaria, and I'd come with high expectations from the start. It is a beautiful place, set high in the mountains with a lovely mountain backdrop. The mon...  more »
  • I went by car which is about 2 hours from Sofia. You can reach by highway quite close to Rila village, so it is good driving. I spend about 2 hours in the monastery enjoying its quiet space and beauti...  more »
  • Very beautiful. I love the organic architecture, the stunning mountain view, the frescos, The trouts In The nearby restaurants and The Sound of The river In The background. A must see.  more »
Google
  • 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!