Trip Planner:   Europe  /  Bulgaria  /  Sofia Region  /  Rila  /  Historic Sites  /  Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery, Rila

(4.8/5 based on 950+ 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.
Create a full Rila itinerary
map

Plan your trip to Rila

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans in Rila by other users

15 days in Europe BY A USER FROM CANADA July, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 8 days in Sofia, Plovdiv & Rila BY A USER FROM ISRAEL April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, popular PREFERENCES: April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Rila, Bansko & Sofia BY A USER FROM ISRAEL April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Sofia, Bansko & Rila BY A USER FROM ISRAEL April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 9 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM TAIWAN April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 34 days in Romania & Bulgaria BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 9 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM SPAIN February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 9 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM BULGARIA February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM MALTA December, kids, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: December, kids, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 1 day in Rila BY A USER FROM SPAIN December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM BULGARIA April, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 13 days in Bulgaria BY A USER FROM BULGARIA December, romantic, popular PREFERENCES: December, romantic ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans
Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We spent a night and attend the religious office in the morning. If you want to be a witness of the Orthodox monastic life this is the perfect place. The monastery is amazing and for the noxe is even more spectacular. The place is away from the large tourist crowds and provides a natural space for rest and reflection. We were almost to rebound because it is hard to get, but it is worth.
    View original
  • One of those absolutely stunning sites in Bulgaria. The architecture, the frescos and the history make it one of the most important attractions in the country. It was still relatively cold in the begi...  more »
  • The place, the location, the atmosphere is evocative and mystical, but as soon as you walk through the door you are amazed with the complex. It is a marvel, there are no more qualifiers. Consists of several museums, interesting, but certainly the jewel in the Crown is the Church of the Nativity, which is one authentic past. The frescoes, both indoors and outdoors are impressive. Free entrance. Essential.
    View original
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.