"Rilski Manastir" Top 5 Page for this destination Rilski Manastir by wroclawiak

Rilski Manastir Travel Guide: 88 reviews and 297 photos

I didn't expect travelling from the little town of Rila that I would see a magnificent architectural monument.
The Rila Monastery is the biggest religious center in Bulgaria. It’s situated in the northwest part of Rila Mountains.The monastery stands 1150 meters above sea level. The monastery is situated about 120 km away from Sofia.

Its history is closely connected with Bulgarian history. The hermit Ivan Rilski founded the monastery in the 10th century. The stone tower - the most impressive building in the complex was constructed in the 14th century. It is five-storey, 8,3 m long and 7,8 m wide defense tower. It is 23 m high, and the "Preobrajenie Gospodne" ("God's Transfiguration") chapel is housed in the last floor.

During the ottoman invasion the monastery was burnt and was on the decline. In the second half of the century, three brothers from Kyustendil undertook restoring the monastery and they carried the St. Ivan Rilski`s relics in the monastery. In the 18th and the 19th century, with the financial support of wealthy Bulgarians, building of the monastery began. The construction had extended for 30 years and had been described with a great variety of architectural sights. The four – storey residential part includes three hundred monk cells, a library, an abbot’s room, four chapels, etc.

The main church is situated near to the Hreliova tower. The frescoes were painted by the best Bulgarian artists - the two brothers Zahari and Dimitar Zograf. Four iconographers had painted the central iconostasis for 5 years. In conjunction with the antique icons it is a national heritage.

The monastery museum keeps antiquities, icons and gospels. The famous wood- carved crucifix, made by a monk named Raphael, has been also preserved. He had carved the crucifix for 12 years and then went blind.

The Rilla monastery is the most famous monastery spot in Bulgaria. It was declared a national record of the past and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

  • Last visit to Rilski Manastir: Aug 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (3)

Comments (2)

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2007 at 7:33 AM

    I used to spend summer holidays in Bulgaria in the old days, but never made it to Rilski Monastir. What a pity.

  • ChristinaNest's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2006 at 1:15 AM

    Good start on your Rila page. Beautiful photos, especially the frescoed ceiling! Christina

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