Rila Monastery is located in the northwestern Rila Mountains, about 120 km south of Sofia. Rila Monastery is the largest and most known Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex, which subsequently played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria.
Church of Rila Monastery
Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. The monastery is a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th-19th centuries) and symbolizes an awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.
Rila Monastery was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.