Travel Bulgaria – The Rila Monastery – unity of spirituality, culture and nature… The Monastery has a unique architecture and takes about 8800 sq.m. When one looks from outside, it resembles a fortress. Due to its 24-metre stone walls, the Monastery has the shape of an irregular pentagon. Once the visitor travel Bulgaria is in, though, they are impressed by its architecture. Impressive arches and colonnades, covered wooden stairs and carved verandas…
The hermit St. Ivan of Rila founded the monastery during the rule of Tsar Peter I. It is normal that the monastery bears the hermit’s name. Actually the hermit lived in a cave without any material possessions not far from the monastery’s location. The long history of the buildings in the Rila Monastery goes back to late 10th century.
Then the monastic community that the Rila hermit had founded, put up the first buildings. They were not far from the cave which he occupied. Normal as it is, St. Ivan Rilski’s death was the beginning of his legendary fame. The fame of a protector of the Bulgarian people.
Eventually, in the XIV century, after changing its settlement several times, the monastic community settled in the fortress of Hrelyo. He was a feudal lord under Serbian suzerainty. The oldest building in the complex, the Tower of Hrelyo, date from this period, 1334–1335. It was the monastery’s fortress. Also the place where monks lived in times of trouble. There was a small church built next to Hrelyo’s Tower as well.
Gradually, the influence of the Monastery grows bigger (travellers to Bulgaria can still feel it). Due to that, its fame spreaded far away from the borders of Bulgaria. People built new buildings to meet the needs of the already big enough monastic community.