The Rila Monastery was established in the 10th century by the Bulgarian holy man Saint John of Rila and his followers. Saint John is recognized as the first Bulgarian hermit and numerous cases of miracles done by him were recorded. Even after his death, his relics continued to heel people that prayed to them and his fame increased even more. Nowadays, the relics are preserved in the church of the monastery and worshipers from many different countries come all year round to pay their respect to them.
Since its establishment, the monastery became an important place for the faith and the education of the Bulgarian people. Although several times it was destroyed by bandits and fires, it was always restored after that and it managed to survive throughout the centuries. The current buildings were built in the first half of the 19th century, during the period of the Bulgarian National Revival period, and they enchant with their beauty.
Nowadays, it is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria with about 250 monk rooms. Some of these rooms are given as ‘’hotel’’ rooms so visitors can stay to sleep at the monastery. From the 14th century has survived the stone defensive tower, known as the tower of Hrelio who was the local lord back then and sponsored its construction. It is situated in the yard of the monastery next to the church and during the National Revival period a belfry was added to its front. Outside of the monastery in the 19th century was also built its bakery. Now it works as a restaurant and there the typical Bulgarian breakfast “mekitsa” can be tried. The Rila Monastery is still an active one and everyday services are held in the morning and in the afternoon. Since 1983 it is a UNESCO heritage site as well.
You can choose several different types of trips with which you can explore the monastery. If you prefer cultural tours, we suggest you take the one that includes the Boyana, which is another UNESCO heritage site. If you like hiking, you can choose the option with the Stob Pyramids or the Seven Rila Lakes. Or if you are interested in wines, there is also an option with a wine tasting tour! All of these tours are led by passionate and knowledgeable local guides that are a guarantee for memorable experiences!