Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery | Bulgaria

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The Rila Mountains are the highest point of the Balkan Range, south of the capital city of Sofia. Originally built in the 4th century, it was home to St Ivan, a hermit from the 9th Century. The monastery that is seen today was built in the 19th century, rebuilt after earthquakes and fires in the region.

The main chruch is painted in hundreds of icons, as tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is surrounded by a beautiful wall, with rooms you can stay in. It is very basic accommodations, similar to when it was built, with no running water or flushing toilet. There are 8 monks in residence. There is plenty of local trout to eat, as well as honey collected from the acacias lining the mountain side. The water in the river is fresh flowing and beautifully safe to drink. There are many hotels and camping sites close to the monastery.