Rila Monastery

The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery (, Rilski manastir) is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of above sea level. The monastery is named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 – 946 AD). Founded in the 10th century, the Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgaria and Southern Europe. In 2008 alone, it attracted 900,000 visitors. The monastery is depicted on the reverse of the 1 lev banknote, issued in 1999.