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A two hour drive from Sofia, is the Rila Monastery. It is situated 1,147 metres above sea level. This was another item that was on my wish list. I found a company called Balkan Trails and arranged this tour. We had limited time here only about an hour, as we had an afternoon flight. The monastery is named after it’s founder, the hermit Ivan. This is the entrance.
It is so peaceful and quiet up here. Our guide told us that there were originally four hundred monks here and now there are only eight.
We visited the museum, where you learn about the history. And that is where you can find Rafail’s Cross. The crucifix is a wooden cross made from a whole piece of wood (81 by 43 cm). It was whittled down by a monk named Rafail using fine burins and magnifying lenses to recreate 104 religious scenes and 650 miniature figures. It looked amazing. We then viewed a monk’s quarters.
This was a really lovely place to visit. It is not like anything I have seen before. If you are even in Bulgaria, you should try to visit Rila Monastery.