After a day and a half spent in Sofia, we went on with our Balkan road trip and got to visit Rila Monastery. It was so nice to enjoy the mountain temperatures after the hot days we had experienced till then. We felt so cold that we actually switched to long pants, discreetly, in the parking lot!
About the Rila Monastery
The Rila Monastery is quite a sight, due to its beautifully painted interior courtyard. It was founded in the 10th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Its courtyard is a very calm place and you can enjoy the quietness to reflect on things. Tim, for example, is not even an Orthodox, but he liked the atmosphere a lot, so in the evening, before closing, he returned to the courtyard to meditate. Hence the title of this blog post.
The Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.
Address: 2643, Bulgaria | See on map
Recommended tours to visit Rila Monastery
Where to stay when you visit Rila Monastery
We couldn’t book a room right at the monastery, as we had wished. The lady there said she’ll look into it, yet never returned to give us any news, good or bad. So we stayed at a nearby hotel, Tsarev Vrah, built and owned by the monks from the Monastery.
Hotel and restaurant, right next to the Rila Monastery.
Address: Rila Monastery, 2630 Rila, Bulgaria | See on map
The delicious dinner on the terrace
In the evening, we went to their terrace and ate fresh trout, caught the very same day from the river right next to it. It was a nice dinner, but it was so cold that our breaths were steamy. We had our warmest clothes but still shuddered. Luckily, they had some blankets and we each took two.
Back on the road
The next day, after a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we returned to the Rila Monastery to send some postcards, as they have a Post Office right there. And then we hopped back in the old Cielo and headed towards the border with North Macedonia.
If we had more time at our disposal and warmer clothes, the place was worth a longer stay. It would have been nice to climb up the Rila Mountains and watch the sunset, maybe from the top of Musala Peak (2 925 m).
Bonus: Hiking in the Rila Mountains
Musala is the highest peak of the Balkan Peninsula and an amazing place to watch the sunset from. Its name comes from Musalla, which in Arabic (through Ottoman Turkish) means near God. Definitely, the place to go after you visit Rila Monastery!
Elevation: 2,925 m
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