Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is located in the heart of Rila Mountains, 117 km south of the capital city Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of 1,147 m above sea level.
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St. Ivan of Rila who was the famous Bulgarian saint and hermit. Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and it is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgaria and Southeastern Europe as a whole.
Rila Monastery has been destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century and it was rebuilt later (from 1834 to 1862). It is a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.
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