Friday, February 29, 2008



The Monastery of Saint Ivan Rilski is one of the seven cultural sites currently included (since 1983) in UNESCO's World Heritage List!

"HIGHWAY - The Rila Monastery is located 117km away from Sofia to the south, on the slopes of the Rila Mountain at 1,147 meters above sea level, in the valley of the Rilska River, and 29 km east of the Sofia-Thessaloniki Highway. The highest peak of the Rila Mountain, Mousala (2925 meters), which is also the Balkan Peninsula’s highest point, is only about 8 hours’ walk away.
We had some help on our drive to reach the monastery..."

"RADOMIR - On the way to the Monastery, we passed through the town of Radomir, which has an interesting story. According to Wikipedia, a rebellion broke out there on 28 September 1918. However, the movement for a new republic was quickly eliminated, lasting only until 2 October 1918, but was successful in eliminating the rule of King Ferdinand, who fled Bulgaria on 3 October 1918, in the wake of Allied occupation"

"RILA ENTRANCE - The Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. The exterior of the monastery has high stone walls (reaching 4 floors) cut by small windows, reminding more of a military fort rather than a monastery"

"HRELYU TOWER - In the middle of the inner courtyard we may find the oldest building of the complex, a stone tower built by the feudal Sebastocrator (a meaningless title, which signified only a close relationship with the emperor) Hrelyu in 1334-1335"

"THE RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS are a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance. Following a fire in 1833, the architect Aleksi Rilets ran the reconstruction of the wooden part of the monastery with the help of 3,000 master builders, who managed to finish it within just 10 days, it seems"

"THE YARD - The closed irregular quadrangle contains the 4-floor residential part, which consists of more than 300 monks' cells, 4 chapels, an abbot’s room, a kitchen, a library and guestrooms"

"CELL - Doesn't seem too ascetic..."

"SPOONS - The kitchen is particularly interesting for its huge cooking devices"

"CHIMNEY – The kitchen chimney is quite impressive"

"WASHING MACHINE - Quite ingenious"

"THE FRESCOES - The brightly painted frescoes of the main church, sheltered under the arcades, are gorgeous, and the frescoes at the interior of the Church (no pictures allowed) absolutely stunning"



"RILA COMPLEX - As many other Bulgarian monasteries that survived the Ottoman times, Rila, the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in the country, acted as the nation's centre of spiritual life under the foreign rule. Its beauty was an astounding surprise!"


Anonymous said...

This is my last post from the 2006 trip to Bulgaria; and I must confess that the beauty of the Rila Monastery was a wonderful surprise. Hope you enjoy it now as much as I did in 2006!

Lynette said...

Wow, what a beautiful series you have here. Thanks for your visits to my blog.

alicesg said...

Very interesting. It is indeed a very beautiful and the paintings on the church are very stunning.

Peter said...

Just fabulous!!
How old are the frescoes? They look very fresh!
A pity that in many countries you are not allowed to take indoor pictures of churches - even without flash!
Can you stay as a guest in these cells (which look very nice)?

leo said...

oh i love all the pictures posted here!! this is a monastery?! the first few pics of it looks like some fancy resort! the interior is even astonishing. were you in some VIP tour? - cos' you even got police escort :)

Anonymous said...

I can say, I enjoyed very much.
So beautiful old buildings and a long history of them.
Have a good weekend!

Tawnya Shields said...

Wow! The stunning landscape and architecture is breathtaking.
I need to stop by more often.

Take care.

Oswegan said...

It looks like a beautiful place.

Lakshmi said...

stunning ! loved the pics of the kitchen and the frescos..Ive just completed a part of the Hoysala trail -the next when I travel again :)

take care and have a great weekend


Indrani said...

Nice pics of the monastery. The Frescos are from recent past? They are intact and look fresh.

Nihal said...

The sofa, spoons, even the washing machine... all remind me again the traces of Ottoman culture naturally:) Anatolia, main part of Turkey, is still 'colorful&rich' with those same stuff like you experienced in Bulgaria. And frescoes STUNNING!!! Liked your photography skills, sei bravo.
Curious where will be for your next destination;) Will be again a spot from Europe? (wish it shall be a different area pleez;)

Spring already upon us in Istanbul, in full bloom everywhere, fresh green. Lisboa?

Have a great weekend!

CaBaCuRl said...

What a gob-smackingly amazing place the monastery is, and thank you for telling me and showing me about it. I had never heard of it before, and now, I will duck over to Wikipedia to learn more. Can't wait to know where we are off to next....Bulgaria will be difficult to follow.

Unknown said...

beautiful pictures, cant travel to so many places but am priveledged to view them via your blog :)

Tinsie said...

WOW that looks amazing, the outside as well as the frescoes in the arcades. I can only imagine how stunning it must be inside! I hope I'll manage to visit myself one day.

SusuPetal said...

A beautiful place. Makes me want to pack my suitcase again!

S-V-H said...

Bulgaria is a country I don't know to much about. But in your posts I always learn and see new places from a new, other perspective with your descriptions and with your wonderful pictures, Gil!

Thanks to share it with all of us.

Neva said...

I am never disappointed when I come for a long overdue visit! Thanks for being so loyal when I have been such a "slacker"! Your photos of this are wonderful. The fresco is lovely. I will check in frequently!

Wendy said...

Beautiful and interesting. Thanks for the journey.

lv2scpbk said...

The photos of "THE FRESCOES is spectacular. I also really like the dome photos as well. Those paintings though are wonderful.

Azer Mantessa said...

colorful and unique architechture this time :-)

i like the view of the chimney :-)

Zannnie said...

stunning series!

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

La cheminée de la cuisine me fait penser au film "le fantôme de l'Opera".
The kitchen chimney looks like the eye of the "Opera ghost" a movie of the 70's.

99 said...

Of course the frescoes are my favorite!
Am I being disrespectful if I say that the former one looks kinda cartoon drawings?
Anyway, they´re fabulous (we certainly don´t have those here in Argentina)
Thanks for commenting in my blog.
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Cergie said...

Quelle merveille ! Ces moines n'ont rien à eux que la nature la montagne, la beauté pure et la simplicité du coeur pour l'admirer et la partager sans avoir le souci de la protéger

Ceci dit, ce n'est pas vrai. Etre moine exige de pouvoir se suffire et donc de travailler en plus de la prière et certains (je suis amie d'enfance de l'ancien "pape" des cisterciens, et mon mari cousin avec l'abbesse (je crois que c'est son "titre") de l'abbaye de Solemme). Ils ne peuvent s'affranchir totalement des contingences matérielles

lyliane six said...

Superbes architectures et les monastères sont magnifiquement décorés, ça me rapelle ceux de Russie quant à la cheminée, je pense à celles du château de Sintra.
Je n'arrive pas à trouver le pays , même en comparant les cartes, elles sont toutes tellement rouges.

Anji said...

What an amazing place, your photos are beautiful.

noushy syah said...

The dome and old buildings are lovely! I love that spoons!! Interesting 'washing machine'!! tehehhe..

Enjoyed reading and the pics are lovely!

Happy w/end!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gil, Thanks for always taking time out of your busy life to visit me. I am throughly enjoying your visit to Bulgaria as much as you did. The frescoes are amazing. Where are we going next?

isa said...

The Rila Monastery is a pleasant surprise to me too ;-)
And I grant you, those frescoes are brilliant! Very well maintained, it seems.
(but if it's all the same to you - I will keep my washing machine, thank you!)

Annie said...

Thank you, GMG, for taking me here. This was my very first visit but I hope it is not my last one. Bulgaria might be the perfect destination for me.

Anonymous said...

Trotter its really nice to refresh memories from way back in 2006! Your blogs are going to be tremendously helpful when I am planning my next trips:) Thanks!

Oman said...

Very lovely pics and thank you for sharing your part of the world with us. Me and my friends love your pics.

Anonymous said...

Gil - I'm still here - I haven't carked it!
I've been busy fiddling with another blog - a daily photo one.
I haven't missed out on your posts though, I've still been coming by.
And I LOVE this one - that photo of the chimney looks just like an eye!
And I'd love one of those stripy blankets in the cell.
And the main church is extraordinary - totally whimsical looking!

Peter said...

Dear gmg! You have not answered all questions here!

Anonymous said...


Alice SG,
Also love those murals!

The monastery was founded in the 10th century, re-erected in the 14th century, destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century, rebuilt again, destroyed by fire and immediately reconstructed in the 19th century, when I believe the frescoes were again painted. It seems that many artists of the Bulgarian Revival Period worked there in the late 19th century. Anyhow, actually, they were being repainted by (I believe) highly competent artists when I visited…
According to information available, it seems that for a small fee, visitors can overnight at Rila monastery in monks' cells. No hot water, though...
Hope to have answered your queries!

Yes, it’s a monastery, but you may try it as a resort; but as I mentioned to Peter, no hot water… So, you noticed the escort! Sometimes it happens...


And it actually is a beautiful place!

That kitchen is amazing!
Your Hoysala trail posts are stunning!

Indrani Ghose,
These frescoes are from the 19th century; but repainted recently. See my answer to Peter!

It seems that the monastery had some difficult times in the 15th century…
No snow storms in Lisbon; actually it has been either autumn or spring! Glad that spring seems to be arriving to Istanbul!

Wiki is a great source… Next, you’ve already seen: Greece!


It’s true that inside the church is gorgeous...

Time to take off!


Those frescoes are actually stunning!

Azer Mantessa,
That chimney is incredible!


Amazing your connection with the Phantom of the Opera...

You’re right about the cartoon style of the last one!

Alors tu connais bien la vie monastique! Et c’est vrai qu’ils semblent travailler aussi à Rila... mais dans un environnement vraiment incroyable!

Les monastères orthodoxes se ressemblent tous un peu, donc la ressemblance avec les monastères russes… Les cheminées de Sintra sont peut-être plus impressionnantes!
La capitale du pays visitée est Delhi...


Noushy Syah,
Any bid for that washing machine? ;))

Thanks for coming here! I agree that those frescoes are stunning. It was my biggest surprise in Bulgaria!

Frescoes very well maintained and artistically restored...
OK, keep your Miele (or should I say, GE)... ;))

Thanks for your visit and comment. Hope to see you here many other times!

Glad to see that it brought you memories and seems to be helpful for next travels!


Glad to see you here! The chimney is incredible, the blankets are amazing, and the main church is absolutely gorgeous! I’ll have to check that araratdailyphoto...