In our opinion the most amazing sight in Bulgaria is without a doubt the Rila monastery. Tucked away in the southwestern Rila Mountains this beautiful monastery is the most important cultural, architectural and historical monument in the country. You’ll recognize it from the backside of the 1 lev banknote.
The monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, the full official name of Rila Monastery, was founded in the tenth century and has been a functioning monastery ever since. Most people get here on a day tour from Sofia (which is 2,5 hours each way) causing it to be rather crowded in the middle of the day. We overnighted in a basic hotel just behind the monastery, which was ideal to experience the monastery in peace at the end of the day and early in the morning.
The superb Nativity of the Virgin Church in the center of the courtyard is the absolute highlight of the monastery. The black, red and white striped church with its three golden domes is adorned by splendidly vivid frescoes on its outside walls. Surrounding the courtyard the outside walls consist of four levels of balconies with monastic cells, storerooms, refectory and kitchen, as well as two small museums and a post office.
But as the saying goes: a picture tells more than a thousand words……
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