Day 6: Around Bulgaria in 14 days

When you’re on vacation and even more on a trip, the days go by really fast. You wake up early, lots of things happen to you, trying to memorize each one – and yet you fail because one incredible moment is quickly replaced by another. On the sixth day of our trip we headed to the Rila Monastery, then through Goritisa waterfall and ended the day in Sapareva Banya.

Rila Monastery

Honestly, we don’t even remember when we left the hotel in Razlog. I remember the beautiful road to the Rila Monastery with many turns and places I wanted to stop and take picture, but I never found a suitable spot. Still, the road was really beautiful. From Razlog to Rila Monastery we traveled about an hour and a half. In front of the monastery there is a large parking lot, where the car can be parked against (if memory does not lie to me) 5 BGN.

However, let us give some information about the monastery itself. The Rila Monastery is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Bulgaria, a symbol of the country included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. I will allow myself to quote the site of the monastery:

“…Of all Bulgarian glory, when there were so big monasteries and churches earlier in Bulgaria, in our times God has left only the Rila Monastery whole to exist through the prayers of the Holy Father John. It is of big benefit for all Bulgarians, that is why all Bulgarians ought to guard it and to give alms to the holy Monastery of Rila, so that the great Bulgarian benefit and praise remain ablaze, which are received from the Rila Monastery through the prayers of our Holy Father John, the glorious Bulgarian saint…”

And indeed, thousands of people from different countries visit the monastery every year.

Here you can see pictures of the monastery with a drone. Keep in mind that drone flying around the monastery is not desirable, we even received a note from the guards at the monastery.

The monastery is huge, it is a pity that some parts are closed for visitors. The whole complex has 4 floors with about 300 monastic cells, 4 chapels, an abbot’s room, a kitchen, a museum, a library and a donation room. The Rila Monastery was built as a fortress and connected to the outside world through two gates. The inner courtyard is surrounded by 24-meter-long stone walls forming an irregular pentagon. Here is the defense tower and the main Church of the Nativity of the Virgin. A little below you will see photos and some information about the tower and the main church.

This is how the monastery looks from the yard:

The architect of the main monastery church “Nativity of the Blessed Virgin” is master Peter Ivanovich, who worked on it between 1834 and 1837. The church also has a large number of valuable icons created between the 14th and 19th centuries. The icons and murals are painted in great detail. The main church has two side chapels dedicated to St. Nicholas Mirlikiiski and St. John of Rila and an open gallery.

You can see some of the icons in the gallery:

When we were in the monastery we wanted to see everything we could, so we climbed the Tower of Hrelov, which was built around 1335. Here the entrance I think was 10 leva per person. Few tourists were allowed inside because the stairs were narrow and it was impossible for two people to cross. The tower is 23 meters high on 5 floors. The Tower of Hrell served a number of things, such as the protection of the monastic brotherhood and the hiding place of monastic values. It is also used as a prison and isolator for the mentally ill. There is a Chapel of the Transfiguration on floor 5. The oldest image of Ivan Rilski is preserved there.

In the tower:

There was no way we would pass the museum part of the Riga Monastery. Perhaps the most impressive of all the premises in the residential wings is the magernitsa (monastery kitchen), located on the ground floor in the north. Everything inside is huge, I found it very interesting, especially the stove above which stands a 22-meter chimney.

Photos from the museum section, you can see in the gallery:

Goritsa Waterfall

Waterfall Goritsa was one of the waterfalls we couldn’t wait to visit. Located near the village of Ovchartsi. There were quite a few signs in the village. We parked next to one of the houses in the center of the village and started looking for the path to the waterfall. At the beginning is the watershed of the region. The path is on the left. The transition is very easy, I don’t remember how long it took us, but it wasn’t more than 25 minutes. The path is pleasant, maintained and clean. We didn’t see other tourists, maybe because it was very hot that day. I was looking forward to getting to the waterfall and feeling its splashes and its freshness. We started with a narrow forest path, shortly afterwards we came to stone stairs, which were very beautiful. The path crosses a wooden bridge and at the end of the path leads to a rock on which is made something like a small terrace with a bench – from there you can see the waterfall. We were a little disappointed because there was no way to get to the waterfall itself and I could not feel the freshness of the waterfall, and all the time I imagined myself dipping my feet into the cold water. People from the village told us that it was possible to reach the waterfall before, but because of the water area it can no longer be reached. But we did enjoy the 39-meter waterfall for quite a while.

Sapareva Banya

After our walk to the waterfall we headed to Separeva Banya. This was our place to rest. We settled into the guest house, it was time for relaxation and headed to our nearest pool. After a few hours of rest we got home and set off for a walk through the center and dinner. We were next to the geyser located downtown. This is one of the hottest geysers in the world. Its temperature is 103 ° C. There, we met a man who told us that the water was no longer so hot because of the hotels, and now it is much less hot, than years ago. He recommended a restaurant for dinner, which we decided to visit. Unfortunately I don’t remember the restaurant name. After dinner, we headed for a well-deserved rest.

Marin is the person who organizes all trips – reservations, route selections and luggage preparations. He works actively in the IT, but even more actively likes to rest.

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