Church of Rozhdestvo Bogorodichno
(Church of the Nativity), Bulgaria’s grandest monastery church. Built between 1834 and 1837, the structure is crowned by three domes....
Bulgaria's most famous monastery is set in a towering forested valley. The 300 monk cells span four levels of colourful balconies,...
Beside the Samokov gate in the northeast of the monastic compound is the Ethnographic Museum, displaying regional folk costumes,...
Outside Rila Monastery's Samokov gate, this fine place has outdoor tables overlooking a brook, and serves traditional Bulgarian cuisine.
Lonely Planet review
The monastery's museum, in the compound’s southeastern corner, contains collected 18th- and 19th-century ecclesiastical paraphernalia, prints and Bibles. The centrepiece is the astonishing Rila Cross, a double-sided crucifix carved by a certain Brother Raphael, between 1790 and 1802. It’s incised in miniature with 140 biblical scenes and inscriptions, and about 650 human figures.
Not surprisingly, Raphael ended up beatifically blind after so much staring through a magnifying glass. To protect visitors from the same fate the monastery exhibits blown-up photos, revealing the cross's incredible detail. Labelling is in Bulgarian only (see the available English-language booklet).