Droushlyovitsa River - Just outside of the Samokov Gate are running the mountain waters of the Drushlyovitsa river ,where you will find a little bit up , a good local tavern and above it the "Tepavitsa" - natural washing mashine.
The church is located inside a square complex with several rooms for monks and others to accomodate visitors.
As you walk along on any of the 4 floors you get different viewpoints on the church and inner yard.
usually i don't get fascinated by murals...but this time i got myself into a surpise. The wall paintings and the murals inside are really amazing! It takes forever to "examine" all of them....at some point my neck started to hurt but i couldn't stop myself:)
Looking like apocalyptic scenes coming straight from a Broegel painting - the lowest level of frescoes at both sides of the main church entrance are remaining unrestaured. I find this definitely strange ,as all the rest of the art is in sparking condition. Maybe there is nobody that wants to touch the cursed scenes.....I might just ask the priest next time.
Looking like a giant mushroom on the roof ,the Round Balcony is my favorite one . I thought I will just put this one in ,but than it's not fair ,you need to make up your mind - I will put the Square balcony too. A great observation point on the top floor....
The wonderful corridors are surrounding the inner yard ,giving you a different view with every step.Go up, from floor to floor ,you can see a the roofs of the church , the inner yard , the mountains ,the forest, ....
The holy relics of St Ivan Rilski were moved on the 19 oct 980 in Stedets - Sofia. In 1183, the magyar king Bela III ( 1173 - 1196 ) conquered the town and took the relics of the saint in the town of Ostrigom ( present Gran),but he returned them back in 1186/1187.In 1195 ,the bulgarian king Assen I , built at the Turnovo hill "Trapezitsa" , a temple "St .Ivan Rilski" and deposed there the holy relics, where they remained for the next 274 years.
After the conquering of the second bulgarian Kingdom from the Ottoman invaders, the relics were moved in the Rila Monastery again on the 1st july 1469,accordind to the description of Vladislav Gramatik.
For more than 1000 years Sv Ivan Rilski is the guardian saint of the Bulgarian people. He does miracles , for what he's been named the Miracle maker.
You can pray for his assistance by going in the Rila Monastery and turning to him with pure faith and prayer. It's even better if you subscribe by the priest so that he reads a prayer 4 you. Go to the holy spring and wash yourself with its waters . Pass through the cave of Ivan Rilski. Bow before the holy relicts,if possible touch them,kiss the hand that does miracles. Cotton that had been in contact with the relicts can help too. Go to Ivan Rilski grave and take a little holy soil to bring home with you.
Miracles happen by the holy relicts ,the miracle icon but aswell at the places where he lived and the objects he touched.The spring that he once drank from and gave its blessing is known to have healing properties.Contless are the people that received his help in hard moments of their lives ,miraculous healings part of which are recorded and published by arhimandrit Kliment Rilets.
Facing the parking lot where most of the busses stop ,you will most probably enter the monastery complex by the Dupnitsa Gate - an entrance in the high fortified walls.
Make sure you look at the sign at the left before you pass the second gate and enter the monastery yard.There you can read the story of the place once again to remember....
What is there to be seen :
1. Dupnitsa gate
4. Historical Museum
7. Police and Fire Department
8.Museum of Monastery Economy
9.Closters Clerk Room
10. Icon Exhibition
11.Ethnographic Museum at 3rd floor
12. Library at 2nd floor
13.Museum Guest Rooms 3rd floor
14. Samokov Gate
15. Post Office
The unique church frescoes, in and out of the building ,are the bigest accomplishment of the Renaissance artisans. They are made by the Samokov crafsman school and its most brilliant artists - Zakhary Christovich Zograph, Dimitar Christov , Kosta Petrov Valjov,Ivan Nikolov and Stanislav Dospevski. They were helped be the Representants of the schoolof Razlog - Toma Vishanov , Dimitar Molerov and Simeon Molerov.The colors of the frescoes are so vibrant ,they look like they have been painted yesturday .
The funds for the building and decoration of the Rila Monastery were raised by the people , with the conscience that they were creating a monument and craddle of the bulgarian culture , religion and spirit.This mission inspired the artists to give the best they are capable of .
The wooden carved altar is created by the school of the Samokov artisans, founded in 1821 by Stoycho Fandukov from Solun ( Thessaloniki ,Greece ) and the brothers Peter and Gueorgi Dashin. The Debur Craftsman Petur Garka and Dimitar Stanishev joined their efforts to create the altar . It was finished in 1859 and its price was 59 689 Grosh.
To gold plate it , they used coins donated by the piligrims that were pressed and thinned.
The schoolof Samokov artisans was having its roots in the decorative art of the antiquity ,the Muslum east and the european motifs and compositions. But they were all applied and turned into a typical local art ,characteristic for the renaissance period in Bulgaria.
In 1866 Marko from Vran village built the spacious monastery kitchen called "Magernitza" south of the Samokov gate.
Unfortunately ,the last time I went ,the kitchen was closed ,so I can not show you how enormous the chimney is , you gotta come and see it for yourself :)))
St Ivan Rilski was born somewhere between 876 and 880 AC in the small village of Skrino.
He was very religious from young age ,and after the death of his parents at the age of 25,he gave away all his posessions to the poor ,and became a monk in the Ruen Monastery "St Dimitar". To improve his religious education , he wandered through the big and small monasteries along the Struma river and around Mount Vitosha,where he learned the foundations of the christianity. Living his life in austere fasting and prayers, first in a hut made out of branches and lately into a cave. Enriched by his experience and prayers , he decided to become a hermit and go in complete isolation. He entered the hardly accessible valley of Rila river and settled around the places where later was created his famous monastery. He inhabited first the cavity of a tree and lately moved in a cave next to its present grave. Discovered by shepards, the place started 2 attract people coming from remote places to the holy man for healing.They spread the words for him all the way to the King. King Peter, came from Sredets to the Tsarev hill ( King's hill ) but did not go further ,where he payed tribute to the smoke from St Ivan's fireplace ,exchanging with him letters and took back the gold he had brought to the holy man.
The first follower of the isolated life of Ivan Rilski,was the son of his brother named Luka. But his father did not agree and took him away against his will. Luka was bitten by a poisonous snake, died shortly after and was buried around the today's chapel of "St Luka". After him came others ,they built cells and a small church around the refuge of the Holy man and established the fondations of the Rila Monastery somewhere around 931 AC.
After the initiation of its first scholars ,St Ivan Rilski left them a written testament, designed the Monk Grigorii as in charge of the monastery ,and went back to isolation till his death on the 18 august 946.
"Of all the Bulgarian glory when there were so many large monasteries and churches in Bulgaria earlier, the Lord has left only Rila Monastery to exist in our times... It is of great use to all Bulgarians. Therefore, it is the duty of all Bulgarians to guard it, and to give alms to the sacred Rila Monastery...".
Paisii of Hilendar, Slav-Bulgarian Histiry (1762)
The present-day appearance of the monastery is from the 19th century. The construction of the residential buildings started in 1816. In the middle of the courtyard is a high stone fortress tower built by the local feudal Sebastocrator Hrelyu in 1334-1335, and a small church dated to 1343. In 1844 added to the tower was a small belfry. Later on, the monumental building of the monastery's Principal Church of the Nativity of the Virgin was erected where the old Hrelyu Tower had once stood. It was built by master Pavel Ivanovich in 1834-1837, planned as a five-dome church with three altar niches, two side chapels and an open gallery. The richly decorated walls strengthen the impressiveness of the interior, a great diversity of compositions depicting religious scenes, and a unique woodcut iconostasis with azure fretwork.