Rila Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage Site (Bulgaria)

Rila Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage Site (Bulgaria)   

This excursion is included in the following Balkan Heritage field schools:    

 - Fresco-Hunting Photo Research Expedition to Medieval Balkan Churches


Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by Sveti Ivan Rilski of Rila (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 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. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation. In its ten-century history the Rila monastery has been the hub of a strong spiritual and artistic influence over the Eastern Orthodox world during medieval times (11th-14th c.). Under Ottoman rule (1400-1878) the monastery influenced the cultural development and the arts of all Christian nations within the Ottoman Empire. With its architecture and frescos it represents a masterpiece of the creative genius of Bulgarian people.                  


The tour/price includes:   

  • An English speaking guide & travel assistant;   
  • Round trip transportation   
  • All expenses of the guide & travel assistant and the driver   
  • Travel insurance   


  • Lecture about "Rila Monastery: History, Legends and Cultural Heritage"

  • Sightseeing tour of Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila's main square and main church 


  • Optional sightseeing walking tour to the hidden cave of Saint Ivan of Rila


The tour/price does not include:   

  • Entry for the Tower of Hrello  (costs approx. 6 euro)    
  • Entry for the Monastery Museum
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