Rila monastery is the holiest place in Bulgaria and one of our UNESCO sites. It is located in the Rila Mountains, the highest mountain in Bulgaria and on the Balkans. It takes about 2-hour drive from Sofia to reach it. We Bulgarians are Orthodox Christians since the 9th c. Many Bulgarians visit the monastery all year long because this is the holiest place in Bulgaria. It has kept the Bulgarian spirit, faith and language through the ages of foreign domination. This is why it is such a sacred place for all Bulgarians.
Boyana church in Sofia
We begin our tour with a visit to the Boyana church in Sofia. This is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church, famous with its frescoes. The church was built in different stages in the late 10th c, 13th and 19th c. Among the frescoes you can see the miracles of St Nicolaus the Miracle-maker. He is patron of fishermen and traders. We celebrate his day on the 6th of December and we eat fish.
Furthermore, in the yard of the Boyana church we will see the grave of one of the last Bulgarian queens: Eleonora. She saved the church from destruction in the 19th c. Her will was to be buried at the yard of Boyana church. And next to her grave there is a one hundred old tree brought from North America. Her husband, the Bulgarian king Ferdinand was keen on botany and he planted two such trees in the yard of the church.
Next we continue towards the the Rila monastery, which is in the Rila Mountains. This is the highest mountain in Bulgaria and on the Balkans. It takes about 2 hour drive from Sofia to reach it. Many Bulgarians visit the monastery all year long because Rila monastery is the holiest place in Bulgaria. It has kept the Bulgarian spirit through the ages of foreign domination. St Ivan of Rila founded the Rila monastery in the 10th c. He donated most of his money for the construction of the old church and became a hermet. Later St Ivan lived in a cave about 5 km away from the monastery. We can hike to this cave. It takes a short hike of 15-20 min one way to reach the cave. The terrain is stony but the hike along the old trees is lovely. It brightens your day! There is a rock hole in the cave and we believe that if you pass through the hole out, all bad thoughts and emotions stay behind.
Rila monastery church
The monastery church is among the most beautiful churches in Bulgaria. It has wall paintings both outside and inside. Today the grave of the last Bulgarian king Boris III is in the monastery church. Also the relics of St Ivan of Rila are here. One of the special icons is the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary. It gives support to the people who visit the monastery and pray for good health.
|Duration:||1 day / 250 km|
|Destination:||Sofia and Rila monastery, Bulgaria|
|Departure location||Pick up from your accommodation in Sofia, Bulgaria.|
|Arrival Time||17:00 (Drop off at your accommodation)|
|When to visit:||all year long|
|Group size:||from 1 up to 6 people|
|Extra information||We can customize the tour to the Rila monastery with a visit to Boyana church, the Stob pyramids, a short hike to the cave of St Ivan of Rila, Retro museum or a wine tasting.
The Hrelyo defense tower in Rila monastery is open from 01.06. until 30.09.