I love monasteries. They make me curious. To enter you have to pass a gate and the walls don’t tell you what to expect. I’ve seen pictures of Rila, but it’s so big and beautiful! An orthodox church in the middle, with a clocktower next to it, surrounded by more than 300 cells for monks divided over 3 floors. There are many amazing story telling paintings, there’s a little drinking fountain, a tiny post office, a library and a museum. When you go in the church you’ll find yourself in this mysterious, historic, dark surrounding lit by candles.
The largest active religious center in Bulgaria, that’s Rila monastery. It was founded in the 10th century, by Ivan Rilski’s followers after he passed away. He became a saint of the Bulgarian orthodox church and his grave became a pilgrimage for thousands of people. A fire destroyed the monastery in 1833, after which it was rebuild from 1834 until 1862.
The monastery got included to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1982 and is one of the biggest and most visited monasteries in the Balkan.
Adress: 2643 Kyustendil
Coordinates: 42.132959, 23.339686
During my second visit I found out there’s a lot more to see! You can climb the clock tower, see some amazing collections (costumes, jewelry) and visit the museum. Click here to read more about how to buy this all-in ticket!
How to get there?
When you drive on the highway E79/1 between Dupnica and Blagoevgrad, take exit 107 to Kocherinovo and Rila. When you get on the 107 drive another 30,6 km. The monastery is much further than the town Rila, don’t get confused about this!
On your way to this monastery you’ll pass
Retromuseum Billy, with a messy but impressive collection antique. From cars to ceramics, sewing machines and horse saddles, they have it all!