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Rila Monastery

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 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.

Rila Monastery is the largest monastery in Bulgaria. It was built in the tenth century and has kept and preserved the Christian values for over a millennium, It is located in the heart of the Rila Mountain. The Rila monastery, in its present look, dates back to the 19th century, and only part of its new eastern wing dates back to the 20th century. The oldest building in the monastery complex is the Hrelyova tower, which was built in the 14th century (in 1335). It used to be the fortress of the monastery and home for the monks, during times of trouble.

There is a museum at the monastery, where you can learn about the museum’s history. The Rila Monastery was included in the UNESCO List of Global Heritage because of its exceptional architecture and cultural heritage.