"Rila Monastery" Top 5 Page for this destination Rila by terrycowan

Rila Travel Guide: 61 reviews and 240 photos

If you can go only one place in Bulgaria outside of Sofia, this is it! Rila Monastery is perhaps the most revered site in the country. During 500 years of Turkish Ottoman domination, the monasteries safeguarded not only the spiritual welfare of the Bulgarian people, but preserved much of their culture and ultimately served as incubators for their nationalism. None carries more significance than Rila.

A visit to Rila Monastery can be a moving experience, even to the most jaded traveler. I have visited my share of European cathedrals and churches, but none have affected me as has this relatively small church in a remote corner of Bulgaria. I entered the church with a definite sense of awe, a feeling that I was in a very special, very holy place. The icons, the flickering candles, the magnificent iconostasis all help create a sense of mystery and reverence for both worshippers and travelers. I believe there are places in the world where one naturally feels closer to God. Rila is one of those places for me.

Try to arrive relatively early in the day. I don't know how many tour buses regularly stop at Rila, but the presence of a noisy busload of tourists can destroy the mood here. Also, if you are driving from Sofia, watch the road carefully. Tsar Boris Boulevard in Sofia becomes the highway to Pernick once it crosses the Ring Road. You have to turn off this road right before you get into Pernick. If you come to the big abandoned foundry on the left, you have gone too far. The turn-off road is NOT well-marked. I've driven to Rila twice, and missed the main turn-off both times.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Probably the most revered site in Bulgaria; incredible setting
  • Cons:somewhat difficult to reach
  • In a nutshell:If in Bulgaria, you've got to see this
  • Last visit to Rila: Jun 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (3)

Comments (2)

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Nov 9, 2007 at 9:30 AM

    Different tips...like them. Isn't Rila just amazing place?

  • zlatiq's Profile Photo
    Dec 17, 2006 at 10:04 PM

    u've described the Rila Monastery effect just perfect!it's an amazaing place! amazing!


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