Visiting the Rila Monastery
For a 1,000 years, the Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila has stood in the western mountains of Bulgaria. This is of course one of the most important religious sites in the country and the Balkan region. The photo above shows my first sights of buildings within the Rila Monastery.
The Rila Monastery is a complex that is surrounded by walls that also house the monk sleeping quarters. Despite the completely different religion and culture here, the scene above reminded of some of the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet that I had a visited a few years before. Most definitely it was the way the carpets hung down from the overhead balconies.
Of course there is a lot of focus on the religious practices that take place in monasteries. Aside from rituals and beliefs, the basic ways of life in the monasteries are also interesting. In most ways they are their own self sustaining city, with infrastructure to take care of hundreds. This photo above shows the monastery’s millstone, and below one of their enormous ovens.
I had lunch in the monastery as well, which included their famous monastery bread seen on the upper left. To the right of the bread is some traditional Bulgarian yogurt which made a healthy and tasty meal.
By far my favorite thing about the Rila monastery was their beautiful fresco paintings. A single painting with vibrant colors and details would be enough to impress me, but these dominated the walls and ceilings of the main church.