Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery is located on the highest mountain range in the Balkans on Mount Rila, at 1,147 meters and is surrounded by the small rivers Rila and Drušljavica.

The Rila Monastery is the heart of Bulgarian Christianity being the largest and most famous Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria and in 1983 it was inscribed by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites for its historical and cultural value.

The Monastery was founded by the disciples of the hermit St. John of Rila in the tenth century. St. John, better known as Ivan Rilski, is still the most beloved saint by Bulgarians.

In 1378 it was destroyed due to the Ottoman invasions but fortunately the literary works and writings were saved.

During the National Risorgimento, the Monastery was rebuilt thanks to numerous offerings from the wealthiest Bulgarians. 

In 1469 the remains of St. John of Rila were brought to the rebuilt Monastery and here, since then, they are venerated and prayed by numerous faithful. 

In 1961 the Monastery was confiscated by the Bulgarian communist regime which converted it into a National Museum.

The Monastery has high walls while the church has three naves decorated with brightly colored frescoes that narrate themes taken from the Bible. 

Also, on the outside there are paintings that make the facades really beautiful. 

The sanctuary, in addition to the church, includes a four-storey monastery with 300 rooms, a large courtyard, a museum and the tower of the despot Hrelio. 

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