Day trip to Rila Monastery from Plovdiv
- Rila Monastery is the most famous landmark in Bulgaria
- Spectacular views of mountain Rila
All about the trip
Rila Monastery is nestled in the highest mountain on the Balkan Peninsula - the Rila at 1147 m above sea level along river Rilska. It is the most famous landmark of Bulgaria, founded in 10th century by the hermit St. Ivan Rilski who was a wonder-worker and patron saint of Bulgaria. This is the largest Bulgarian monastery, a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and most visited tourist site in Bulgaria by both foreign and local tourists. Known also as the Holy Rila Retreat, it’s the most outstanding monument of the Bulgarian National Revival period, an ultimate expression of the Bulgarian genius in matters of spirit, culture, architecture, construction, icon painting and woodcarving. The monastery was built as it stands now by Bulgarian master builders between 1816 and 1847.
Before discovering the monastery we will go for lunch to a nice restaurant perched above Rilska River to try grilled or fried trout, which is the local specialty.
In Rila Monastery we will first visit the main church Nativity of the Virgin (1835 – 1837) decorated with wonderful and very well preserved murals. In all the scenes depicted on the exterior and the interior of the church are more than 1200. In the church, we see the holy relics of St. Ivan Rilski as well as the tomb of the last Bulgarian king Boris III. Next to the main temple is the only left building from the 14th century - the Helio's tower. It represents a strong fortification erected by the local feudal lord Helio in 1334 – 1335. The “Transfiguration” chapel on the top floor of the building houses precious mural paintings from the 14th century. In the monastery museum, we will see some ancient weapons of the monastery guards, church objects, documents, ancient printing machine from Vienna, ornaments, ancient coins and many more. The most impressive exhibit here is the wooden cross carved by monk Rafail. He worked on it for 12 years (between 1790 and 1802) and finally became blind. This unique piece of art contains 36 scenes from the Bible and about 600 figures as small as a rice grain!
After exploring the Holy Rila Retreat, optionally at a little extra cost, we can go to the nearby cave of St. Ivan Rilski where he spent many years in a hermitage, prayer, and meditation. It takes around 25 minutes of walking in a wonderful forest to reach this holy site where actually the monastery was originally founded. Next to the cave stands the Assumption of St. Ivan Rilski church which was built around the rock tomb of the saint. The “wish fountain” is nearby where visitors and pilgrims write wishes on a paper and put them between the stones.What Wikipedia Says
What is included in the price
- English speaking tour guide
- Transfers from and to your hotel in Plovdiv
What is not included in the price
- Food and drinks
- Rila Monastery museum entrance fee (4 €)
- Helio's tower entrance fee (2,50 €)
Please respect the dress code at the monastery – shoulders, and knees must be covered. Men can be in shorts above the knees.
Sandals and T-shirts are allowed.
Please show up at the meeting point 15 minutes before the scheduled time.
This activity is organised by Plovdiv Trips LTD, Makariopolski Str. 13, Plovdiv, 4000, Bulgaria, +359 889 424 576, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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