"Bulgaria" Bulgaria by Teo72

Bulgaria Travel Guide: 6,160 reviews and 17,956 photos

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery is located in Rodopi Mountains, in south-western Bulgaria. It was founded in the 10th century by Saint John of Rila as a colony for hermits; during the 13th & 14th centuries it was rebuilt ( a fortress tower remains from that period, as well as sacred objects and manuscripts stored in the monastery treasury). Most of what you see now dates from the 1st half of the 19th century but it is definitely worth seeing. The monastery is listed as one of UNESCO's worldcultural heritage monument.
You can reach the monastery from Sofia if you take a bus from Ovcha Kupel bus station to Rila village, and then a shuttle from there to the monastery.

The main church of Rila Monastery is dedicated to the Virgin and was built in the 30s of the 19th century in the place of an older, burnt-down church. The outside gallery (as you can see from the picture) is covered with wonderful frescoes dating from the same period; the interior is even more breathtaking.
Today Rila Monastery is Bulgaria's most famous and visited religious site. In that respect, the words of an 18th century monk (also credited as the 1st Bulgarian historian, Paisii of Hilandar) are very contemporary-sounding: "Of all Bulgarian glory when there were so many large monasteries and churches in Bulgaria earlier, the Lord has left only Rila monastery to exist in our times... It is of great use to all Bulgarian. Therefore, it is the duty of all Bulgarians to guard it, and to give alms to it."


One of the best things to see in Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, is the Roman theatre. It dates from the 1st century AD and is in a relatively good stage of preservation (considering its age). Nowadays, it is occasionally used for opera & theatre performances, as well as international folk festivals (the occasion for which it is flag-decorated on the picture you see).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A contry with beautiful nature and hospitable people.
  • Cons:Right now, the country's situation in terms of economy and social change is less than perfect. Naturally, you see that reflected around you if you stray from the tourist-y sites and resorts.
  • In a nutshell:If you like adventure, beautiful landscape or just long for a new & original destination, come and visit Bulgaria.
  • Last visit to Bulgaria: Aug 2002
  • Intro Written Sep 10, 2002
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