Tour to Rila Monastery starts from any accommodation in Plovdiv. The amazing Rila Monastery is situated in the highest mountain on the Balkan Peninsula - Rila and it is protected by UNESCO since 1983. This monastery was founded in 10th century by the hermit St. Ivan Rilski (a wonder worker and patron saint of Bulgaria). "The Holy Rila Retreat" is most visited tourist site in Bulgaria by foreign and local tourists and it’s the most outstanding monument of the Bulgarian National Revival period.
You will have the opportunity to taste a delicious lunch in the restaurant located above Rilas River and try the local specialty – grilled or fried trout. First you will visit the main church Nativity of the Virgin decorated with wonderful and very well preserved murals. In the church you will see the holy relics of St. Ivan Rilski as well as the tomb of the last Bulgarian king – Boris III. Next to the main temple is the only left building from the 14-th century – the Hrelio’s tower which represents a strong fortification erected by the local feudal lord Hrelio. The “Transfiguration” chapel on the top floor of the building has precious paintings from the 14th century.
Then you will visit the monastery museum with ancient weapons of the monastery guards, church objects, documents, ancient printing machine from Vienna, ornaments, ancient coins and many more. The most impressive exhibit here is the wooden cross carved by monk Rafail. This unique piece of art contains 36 scenes from the Bible and about 600 figures as small as a rice grain!
Optionally we can go to the nearby cave of St. Ivan Rilski where he spent many years in hermitage, prayer and meditation. It takes around 25 min walking in a wonderful forest to reach this holy site where actually the monastery was originally founded. Next to the cave stands the Assumption of St. Ivan Rilski church which was built around the rock tomb of the saint. The “wish fountain” is nearby where visitors and pilgrims write wishes on a paper and put them between the stones.