Rila Monastery - details and images

The monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila monastery is the largest and best known Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is located in the southwest of the Rila Mountains, 117 km south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an altitude of 1,147 m above sea level. The monastery was named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876-946). Established in the tenth century, the Rila Monastery is considered to be one of the most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments in Bulgaria and throughout Southern Europe.
The main church of the monastery was built in the middle of the 19th century. Its architect is Pavel Ioanov, who worked on it between 1834 and 1837. The church has five towers, three altars and two side chapels.
The residential complex, with four floors, consists of 300 cells, four paraclises, the abbot's room, the kitchen, a library with 250 manuscripts and 9,000 old volumes printed.
The Rila Monastery Museum is known especially for Rafail's Cross, a wooden cross made of a single piece of wood. She was carved by a monk named Rafail with fine lines and a magnifying glass, to create 104 religious scenes and 650 miniatures. Work on this work lasted at least 12 years and was completed in 1802 when the monk lost his sight.

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