Rila Monastery with St Ivan Rilski Cave and Boyana Church Guided Day Tour
Experience two of Bulgaria's most special places and discover a unique culture and nature by joining a full day guided trip from Sofia to the Rila Monastery and Boyana Church. Two of the finest and most popular UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bulgaria, recognized for their religious significance, historical importance and cultural dignities. This is always a small-group tour, so sit back and let your guide lead you through the fascinating pre-Renaissance frescoes of the Boyana Church, the small towns and beautiful, sleepy villages all the way to the heart of the "Rila Monastery" Nature Park. Admire the unique architecture and learn all the details about the vast history of the largest Bulgarian monastic complex.
Your journey starts from one of the most beautiful and recognizable buildings in Sofia- The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Meet your guide in front of the biggest cathedral in Bulgaria and get on-board your comfortable, air-conditioned minivan. After a short drive through downtown Sofia (you will learn all the details about the interesting buildings that you see on the way), you will be at the Boyana Church - the first UNESCO site for the day.
The Boyana Church is one of the most important medieval temples not only in Bulgaria but worldwide. The Church is best known for its unique pre-Renaissance frescoes from the mid-13th century (1259). Admire the beautiful Bible scenes, the angels, apostles, the saints and listen your guide who will explain all the meanings and interesting facts behind them.
From Boyana you will leave on a two-hour scenic drive through the charming Bulgarian countryside. Enjoy the small towns, the beautiful, sleepy villages and see the simple live of the locals. The road will take you deep in the "Rila Mountain" Natural park, where you will find hidden the largest Bulgarian monastic complex - the Rila Monastery. Embark on a guided tour around the monastery complex. Your guide will help you to explore the unique monastery architecture, the beautiful frescoes of the monastery church – “Nativity of the Virgin”, and the rich monastery museums. Listen the fascinating stories about St. Ivan Rilski - the saint who found the monastery in the 10th century and King Boris the third - the last and most beloved Bulgarian monarch, whose tomb lies in the monastery church.
After the guided tour, enjoy your free time and take the opportunity to visit some of the nearby restaurants. Taste the local specialties, such as the grilled or fried trout, the fresh salads and the famous Bulgarian yogurt with honey. During your free time you will have the option to join your guide and visit the nearby cave of St Ivan Rilski. This is where the saint has spent most of his life, living a very simple life as a hermit. The cave is a place with a special energy and the legend says that the one who enters the cave will get rid of all his sins!
To reach the cave of the saint you must hike in the woods about 20 minutes, the hike is not very difficult, but there are some steep sections and some stones on the path, that's why it's recommended only for people in good physical shape.
In the late afternoon return to your vehicle and relax on the way back to Sofia.