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Rila Monastery, Rila

4.8
#1 of 6 in Things to do in Rila
Visit Rila Monastery, the oldest religious center in the Slavic world, to appreciate the harmony between architecture and painting. The students of St. Ivan of Rila built the monastery in the 10th century near the hermit ascetic's cave and tomb. This World Heritage site is a cultural and spiritual center of Bulgarian national consciousness. The main church features beautiful frescoes and a gold-plated iconostasis, famous for its wood carvings. Don't miss Rafail's Cross in the monastery museum, which depicts 104 religious scenes and includes 650 miniature figures. At the end of the 18th century, a monk named Rafail used magnifying lenses to whittle the wooden cross. It took him 12 years to complete the cross, and the work cost him his sight. Plan your Rila Monastery visit and explore what else you can see and do in Rila using our Rila trip itinerary builder tool .
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
1,675 reviews
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  • It's a bit far from Sofia, but if you have one extra free day and you are staying in Sofia it's with visiting.  more »
  • Wonderfully located and relatively easy to reach by car, there is a parking area for a few leva. The courtyard and church (all free, it is a monastery) invite you in a nice way. The paintings on the o...  more »
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