Monday, November 2, 2015

Rila Monastery

Tucked away in the mountains of southwestern Bulgaria lies a 10th century monastery.

Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the (few?) must-see places in Bulgaria. Its proximity to the capital city make it an excellent day trip (which my hostel helped me organize.)

But before visiting the monastery, our tour took us to an even older church nearby. Located higher up in the mountains than Rila, we were able to hike around and even crawl through the cave where the church's founder is said to have spent his days.

Exultant at having made it through the cave's uncomfortably tight rear exit
I enjoyed simply walking in the woods and relaxing in the peaceful setting.

Then it was on to the main attraction.

The monastery is nestled in an idyllic green mountain valley (complete with a river flowing through it) surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

But there are lots of old churches and monasteries in that part of the world. What sets Rila apart is the architecture and the art.

We had several hours to wander around, visit the tiny little museums inside the monastery, and eat lunch in the little village nearby.

Though it's gorgeous and very cool, there's not a lot to do other than walk around. Most of the site is off-limit to visitors, so you have to content yourself with taking lots of pictures and taking in the beautiful setting.

...Which isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon in Bulgaria.

1 comment:

  1. That monastery does have some amazing art. So glad you got to take so many pictures inside and out. The older church looks interesting too, but why did the founder live in a cave? There must be a story behind that. Happy you made it out of that tight squeeze exit (shiver).