Rila Monastery, the largest monastery in Bulgaria, is situated in the spectacular Rhodope Mountains in Rila National Park and is included on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. Rila was the first Christian monastery to be built in Bulgaria and was founded by followers of John of Rila (the patron saint of Bulgaria) during the 10th century. Rila was damaged by fire several times over the years and was not fully restored to its current state until 1816. The monastery is ornately decorated with murals which were painted by famous artists, including Kosta Valyov and Zahari Zograph, between 1840 and 1848.
For more information on Rila Monastery, contact the National Information and Advertising Center to the Ministry of Economy (see Tourist Information above).
Air: Sofia Airport. Road: Car: E79 south of Sofia for 100km (62 miles), then a further 21km (13 miles) to arrive at Rila Monastery.