The most impressive monument from the Bulgarian National Revival period rises amidst the rugged beauty of the Rila
Mountain, just 120 km from Sofia.
Having survived the times with the self-confidence of the most zealous guard of the Bulgarian spirit and language, it
still fascinates present-day visitor with the pure and harmonious line of the buildings' exquisite colonnades, arches
and vaults, spacious rooms richly decorated with murals and fretwork.
The monastery's most treasured historic and artistic monuments include the 14th century Hrelyo Tower, the five-domed
Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original monastery kitchen from the 19th century.
The monastery also houses a rich museum collection of valuable old manuscripts and documents, charters and icons, an
ethnographic exhibition of fabrics, jewelry, carpets and wrought iron objects, and a library containing more than
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. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the
19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. The monument is a characteristic example of the Bulgarian
Renaissance (18th–19th centuries) and symbolizes an awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of
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