Places of interest
The Rila Monastery is located in the Southwest Bulgaria, 117 km away from Sofia city in a difficult to reach part of the Rila Mountain, among picturesque landscape. Rila Monastery is the second largest monastery on the Balkans. The best Bulgarian masters at the time were involved in its building. It was founded in the 30s of 10th century by hermit Monk John of Rila and his followers. Although built in several phases and despite the fact that many creators took part in its building, harmony and integrity in architectural and artistic aspect was achieved. Buildings are amazingly decorated and face the courtyard with their wooden balconies. Very impressive is magernitsata (the monastery cook-house). The drawing-rooms were furnished with donations from residents of rich Bulgarian settlements and were decorated with paintings, woodcarving and fabrics characteristic of that countryside. In 1837 in the courtyard was built the Holy Virgin Church with its splendid decoration. The relics of St. John of Rila are kept there. Rila Monastery as a combination of the consumer and spiritual culture keeps various and very valuable works of the Bulgarian art. The collection of icons includes works of 14th to 19th century and shows the art development throughout the years. The monastery plays an important role in the cultural life and has rich library keeping works of different nature.