Ecclesiastical & Historical Museum

Plovdiv & Southern Mountains

Rila Monastery's museum has a diverting collection of items and documents from across the centuries, including 14th-century wood carvings, Revival-era icons, and parchments revealing the financial history of this land-owning and profoundly influential monastery. Worthy of attention are the lavish silk and gold gifts sent from Russia to Rila. The museum's centrepiece, however, is Rafail's Cross, an early 19th-century double-sided crucifix.

Carved from a single piece of wood with 36 biblical scenes and around 600 human figures, Rafail's Cross is a feat of astonishing craftsmanship. Brother Rafail, the monk-artisan behind this masterpiece, went blind after its completion.

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