Rilski Manastir is the most splendid symbol of Orthodox Christianity in Bulgaria. It is located amid a wooded mountain wilderness in the west of Bulgaria and is the country’s oldest and largest monastery.
The complex’s asymmetrical inner courtyard is in stark contrast to its almost frightening appearance when viewed from outside. The facades and arches of the tall, several-floor monastery, are painted with both light and dark stripes. The long buildings with wooden galleries and colourful arcades accommodate the cells as well as the kitchen, bakery, cheese dairy and refectory.
The three-levelled basilica is a splendid building surrounded by open arcades that protect a wall that contains valuable carvings and icons.
More than twelve hundred motifs guide the faithful and warn them not to lead a godless life. These include biblical scenes and images of angels, demons and martyrs and an apocalyptic vision of hell that is all in amazing contrast to the elegance of the splendid arcades and columns.
The large monastery complex whose red roofs and domes tower above the mountain forest was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.