Rila Monastery, Bulgaria


Friday, October 21, 2016

Our first full day in Bulgaria we changed plans due to weather and headed straight to the Rila Monastery. My favorite is "Boboshevo" :)
One of the highlights in all of Bulgaria is located about 1.5 hours south of Sofia in the beautiful mountains. We drove through colorful countryside and Bulgarian villages. 
The Prin mountains were just starting to show signs of fall. (Chris! Pull over so I can take a picture!)
Funny story: Our kids love playgrounds. #kidswillbekids. They are drawn to playgrounds like moths to the flame. As we were driving through these mountains I saw a playground in the distance and started counting down... "5, 4, 3, 2, 1." "PLAYGROUND!" screamed Jane. It was absolutely perfect timing and made for some good laughs.
We arrived at our destination: the Rila Monastery! For most of its history, this was an exceptionally remote and quiet place, perfect for religious contemplation. The exterior of the complex gives off the impression of a fortress and in the past this security was a necessity as the wealth of the monastery attracted thieves. 
Passing through the gates the scene changes from grey severity to a carnival of color and pattern.
The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in the center of the courtyard is a visual feast.
Arcaded galleries encircle the church and hold kitchens, monks' chambers, guest rooms, and a museum. 
The monastery was founded in the early tenth century by Ivan Rilski, a hermit who sought enlightenment in the solitude he found here. He gained followers as his reputation as a wiseman and healer spread and in response to their requests he founded a religious community. It soon became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the Balkans.
The oldest structures standing date from around 1335, but a fire in 1833 destroyed several buildings. 
Like many of Bulgaria's remote monasteries, Rila was a place where Bulgarian culture and identity was preserved during the 500 years of Ottoman occupation. And, as national awareness grew and the movement for independence gained steam, these monasteries served as local centers for rallying support for the cause of Bulgarian political, religious, and educational freedom.
The porch of the church is a kaleidascope of color.
The frescoes focus on the theme of the triumph of good over evil. They were bright and optomistic in outlook.
Inside, the iconostasis is a splendid mass of intricate carvins, heavily decorated with gold leaf. The interior frescoes continue the same theme as the exterior with the same lovely colors.
At the time of its completion, this was the largest monastery church in the Balkans.


The monastery museum holds many treasures including ancient religious artifacts, costumes, and documents.
Future patterned paper inspiration?!?!? :)
The oldest buidling still standing: Hrelyo's Tower dating from 1335. The lower level has a shop were you can buy religious icons and the like.
It was a BYU gameday so Chris got this fun shot of him repping our Cougars at the Rila Monastery. 
Fox & Jane. They're pretty good sports even though churches and monasteries don't pique their interest. This was just after we said they couldn't have a toy and threw tantrums...........
Pretty leaves on the ground.
Our family at the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria on Saturday October 8th 2016.
Then we headed to the capital city of Macedonia - Skopje!

1 comment

  1. Wow, what a beautiful monastery. Thank you for showing all those lovely places...it's a great inspiration for places for future visits

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