RILA MONASTERY - THE MOST ANCIENT SANCTUARY, BULGARIA
The RILA MONASTERY is situated in Southern Bulgaria, 117 km away from Sofia and 40 km away from Blagoevgrad. Rising at 1147 m above sea level it lies amidst some of the most scenic recesses of Rila Mountains, to which the monastery owes its name. On either side the swift and clear flowing rivers of Rilska and Drushlyavitsa flank it. The Malyovitsa peak, reaching a height of 2729 m is within a four hours walking distance and within as many again is the Rila’s highest point – mount Moussala, reaching to 2925 m.
According to some sources the monk hermit John of Rila (Ivan Rilski) who dwelt in a stone cave not far from the monastery’s main complex founded the Rila Monastery in the 10th century. The originator of the Rila foundation who lived during the reign of the Bulgarian Tsar Peter (927-968) was raised to sainthood by the grateful Christians in sign of homage to his lifework. The disciples of John of Rila who lived at that same time should also be merited for the creation of the monastery.