If your next trip is to Bulgaria, you cannot miss the beautiful and majestic Rila Monastery. Located in the beautiful Rila mountain range, it is one of the significant places in Bulgaria.

It is the last standing symbol of historical culture and religion. It is a popular site for tourists and natives who regularly visit the place.

If you are curious about visiting this place but want to educate yourself first, here is your cue.

Read this article to learn about the Rla MOnastery and how you can spend your day at this beautiful place.

  • History of the Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery holds a special place in the history of the Orthodox Church. It is also known as “Sveti Ivan Rilsk.” It is the largest and most famous eastern orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.

 A hermit named St. John built it in the tenth century. The monastery was originally his dwelling.

It holds great spiritual and cultural significance. It was a strong influence over the eastern orthodox church that was very influential in medieval Bulgaria. An earthquake at the beginning of the nineteenth century devastated this historical site, which got restored in 1862.

 It has also preserved several national artifacts and scriptures.

Why do people visit the Rila Monastery?

The most outstanding features of any new place are its people and architecture. Middle Eastern building and structure style has inspired Rila Monastery’s beautiful architecture. It is an architectural beauty in the Rila Mountain range that represents the traces of the Ottoman empire that lasted for more than 500 years in Bulgaria.

One of the main reasons for visiting the Rila monastery is the beauty and art that it represents.

Secondly, it is a crucial symbol of history and culture in Bulgaria. It is live evidence of the historical changes Bulgaria underwent during its Renaissance period. As mentioned above, the monastery is one significant symbol of the Eastern Orthodox church. It was one of the few orthodox churches that the ruling Ottomans did not turn into the Greek Orthodox church during the Ottoman Empire.

When you visit Bulgaria and use the current, you will also find this heritage site on their one lev banknote.

  • How To Reach Rila Monastery

Rila monastery is not hard to locate and reach. It is easily accessible by car.

As a foreigner in Bulgaria, you can find and rent a car. You need to be careful with the choice of the rental company and check the car and any legal documents.

Once you have the car, you can drive to the Rila Monastery.

Before I guide you, let me tell you that Google maps are very reliable to reach the Rila Monastery. It will correctly guide you for all the roads and turns.

No matter where you are, you will ultimately drive on the Sofia-Kulata highway. It is also known as the Struma motorway. From there, you will reach the exit for Kocherinovo village, where you can spot the signpost for Rila Monastery. Rila monastery lies thirty kilometers ahead of this place.

You can also reach the location by shuttle, which usually leaves Sofia around 11 in the morning. You will have to consult and ask the locals or your hotel staff about the route and pickup point of the shuttle. You can easily access to the hotels by using the best hotel booking apps.  Upon getting the information, you must pick the nearest meeting spot and get on the ride.

  • Things to See at the Rila Monastery

The Rila monastery compound and church remain open from seven to seven in the evening. You can, therefore, plan your vacation accordingly. However, the museum is accessible from eight-thirty to seven thirty in the evening.

While entry to the monastery is free, you must pay to enter the museum.

When you enter the monastery, the beautiful architecture and colors of the building will stun you. You can spot the religious artwork on the ceiling of the building. This marvelous artwork looks beautiful while depicting the history and culture of Bulgaria.

Moving inside the Rila Monastery, you will hardly find any images on the web, as photography is prohibited inside. However, to describe it to you, it has five domes in the church, two side chapels, and three altars. You can find the famous gold-plated iconostasis inside, completed after more than five years.

You will find a tall tower, which is the Hrelja Tower. It was built for security and defense and is one of the oldest parts of the monastery.

The museum is another worthwhile stop here. You can see historical weapons, artwork, and portraits and learn about the monastery’s history. It will take you a maximum of an hour to explore this museum. Therefore, you must not miss it.


Rila monastery might not be the most famous UNESCO heritage site like other European structures, but it demonstrates a significant part of our history. Its beauty and tall structure speak of its glorious past and signify its present value.

It has successfully preserved the rich culture of Bulgaria and is a living example of the glorious past for the coming generations.

As a result, you must visit this place if you are ever in Bulgaria.