Getting There: Rila Monastery

Society | November 15, 2002, Friday // 00:00

If you wish to spend a weekend out of town, visit a place of interest and get some fresh mountain air, you should opt for a trip to the Rila Monastery. The monastery is just 120 kilometres away from Sofia and is one of the most impressive and popular sites of interest in the country. The monastery's most treasured historic and artistic monuments include the 14th century Hrelyo Tower, the five-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original monastery kitchen from the 19th century. The monastery also houses a rich museum collection of valuable old manuscripts and documents, charters and icons, an ethnographic exhibition of fabrics, jewellery, carpets and wrought iron objects, and a library containing more than 16,000 books.

There you can enjoy beautiful Rila mountain views. Don't forget to try the tasty mekitsas (typical Bulgarian breakfast meal) and hand-made bread in the baker's shop outside the monastery' s complex. There are a couple of hotels where you can spend the night. Usually over the weekend it is crowded and that is why it would be better to make a reservation during the week. However, if you do not want to spend the night in the monastery complex, you can spend the night in Blagoevgrad, a very nice Bulgarian town, some forty kilometres away from the monastery. There are hotels in the old town Varosha. You can also spend the night at Alen Mak hotel in downtown Blagoaevgrad next to the building of the American University in Bulgaria.

The best way to go there is by car. Buses to the monastery are rare. You can get a bus from Sofia bus station Ovcha Kupel at 10.20 am. It goes to the village Rila first and there another bus waits to take the passengers to the monastery. One-way ticket to Rila monastery costs some six leva. A bus goes back to Sofia at 3 pm.

Have a great trip!

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