Rila Monastery in Bulgaria
One of the most popular landmarks in Bulgaria, which is also the most frequently visited by foreign tourists, is the Rila Monastery. It is more convenient to explore it and familiarize with the local landmarks using an audio guide. It will tell you unique facts about the history of the monastery and the life of the hermit John of Rila – facts you cannot find on the Internet.
You can listen to our audio guide for the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria on your phone, in a language of your choice. All you need is Internet access and a headset.
A map will be sent to your email along with the recordings, so you can more easily navigate the monastery.
You can pause the tour at any time, for example to eat at a local restaurant and try the famous crispy mekitsas generously sprinkled with caster sugar.
How to purchase an audio guide
You can listen to our audio guide on your phone using headphones. You just need to buy the recording, turn it on during the tour and enjoy the exciting story of how the temple was created and why the Rila Monastery is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Register.
How to purchase an audio guide:
- Select a language
- Select the date of your visit in the calendar
- Make a payment
- You will receive a link to your email address with access to the audio files and a map of the Monastery grounds
The link will become active on the specified day and within 24 hours you will be able to listen to the recordings, with the option to choose between seven popular languages.
listen to a fragment of the recording
ENG THE INTERNAL YARD OF THE MONASTERY:ENG THE INTERNAL YARD OF THE MONASTERY
ESP EL PATIO INTERNO DEL MONASTERIO:ESP EL PATIO INTERNO DEL MONASTERIO
ITA IL CORTILE INTERNO DEL MONASTERO:ITA IL CORTILE INTERNO DEL MONASTERO
DE INNENHOF DES KLOSTERS:DE INNENHOF DES KLOSTERS
FRA COUR INTERIEURE DU MONASTERE:FRA COUR INTERIEURE DU MONASTERE
RUS ВНУТРЕННИЙ ДВОР МОНАСТЫРЯ:RUS ВНУТРЕННИЙ ДВОР МОНАСТЫРЯ
BG ВЪТРЕШНИЯТ ДВОР НА МАНАСТИРА:BG ВЪТРЕШНИЯТ ДВОР НА МАНАСТИРА
How you can get to the Rila Monastery
To see this remarkable place, you need to travel 117 kilometers south of Sofia, to the Rila River valley. There, in the northwest part of the mountain range, at 1150 meters above sea level, rises the Rila Monastery, one of the oldest monuments of the Bulgarian Culture.
How to get there from Sofia
You can reach the Rila Monastery from Sofia by bus. It departs every day at 10:20 a.m. from bus station “West”, (Zapad) Ovcha Kupel district (ticket price is 11 BGN). To travel back from the Rila Monastery, you can take the bus at 3:00 p.m.
Paid parking is provided near the Monastery for those traveling by car. By the way, you can book a night at the small hotel on the territory of the Monastery and extend your access to the audio guide on the website for up to 72 hours (for an additional fee).
Attractions and museums on the territory of the complex
The cave of Saint John of Rila
If you have time, be sure to visit the cave of Saint John of Rila, where he lived in seclusion for many years. It is located just 3 km from the main territory of the Monastery. In the cave, on a stone bed, you will see numerous icons left here by worshipers. Many visitors also leave notes asking for the health of their relatives and loved ones.
There is a belief that if you squeeze through the narrow opening at the upper entrance of the cave, you will be cleansed of bad thoughts.
Ecclesiastical Historical Museum and other Museums
Our audio guide will reveal the most interesting secrets and little-known facts about the exhibits in the five active Museums that you can visit on the territory of the complex: Ecclesiastical & Historical Museum, Icon Gallery, Medieval Hreliov’s tower, Ethnographic Museum. Visiting one Museum costs 2,5 EUR, and for 8 EUR you can buy a combined ticket for all expositions. If you wish to visit the monk’s cell, you should contact the Museum curator.
The relics of John of Rila and the Miraculous Icon
The relics of Saint John of Rila, the heavenly patron of the Bulgarian people, are laid in the cathedral church on the territory of the Monastery. You will find them near the iconostasis, under a wine-red cover embroidered with gold.
The main treasure of the Rila Monastery is kept in the same church – the miraculous icon of Holy Mother Hodegetria, known in Bulgaria as Virgin Mary Osenovitsa. It is the most ancient shrine of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and researchers confidently date it to the 12th century.
The Ecclesiastical & History Museum of the Rila Monastery also houses its most impressive exhibit – Raphael’s cross. Father Raphael created a real miracle from a single piece of boxwood, carving 100 biblical scenes and 600 miniature figures on the cross.