I arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria this week and had the opportunity to visit the Rila Monastery. The monastery is the largest and most visited Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. Fortunately, the hostel I am staying in, Hostel Mostel, has daily trips to the monastery and it only cost 40 Bulgarian Leva (20 euros) for the tour. I rode along with some very cool Australians who ensured my day was very enjoyable. We left around 9:30 a.m. and arrived at the monastery two hours later.
Our first stop when we arrived was the cave near the monastery where it is believed that the hermit Saint Ivan of Rila lived without any processions. Saint Ivan was also known for his healing and miracles to help the local people. He inspired many young followers and some of them built the monastery near his cave.
The wet weather made it difficult to climb the trail, but eventually we arrived at the cave. The trail was muddy, wet, and rocky. Recently, I have done a lot of I urban walking, but the trail put my endurance to the test. Below is a short video to give you an idea of the trail and how I was physically struggling to keep up with the group. You can hear my huffing and buffing. 🙂
The entrance to the cave is extremely narrow so the group had to wait for each person to walk through the cave and climb up a narrow and difficult shaft to get to the top.
Once you enter the cave, you’re confronted with darkness and the only way to to see through the cave is the candle offering to St. Ivan.
My friend Emma and I weren’t sure if we could physically climb up the shaft, but we made it and were happy to get to the top and join the rest of the group.
We soon made our way to the wishing well; which is located near the cave. We all left coins for wishes and we also left a prayer offering in the prayer box.
We made our way down the mountain and to the monastery. However, before we visited the church we made a stop for lunch and a few large beers.
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