Rila Monastery

by Sam

One hour and forty minutes outside of Sofia, Rila Monastery. A gem in the mountains. The pictures online are beautiful. I’m not sure what word to use to describe the reality, because it was more than that. 

Driving to Rila, first of all, transports you to another world completely. It’s not that the nature itself is so impressive, but rather, the sheer isolation of the space. Fields, mountains, forests, and then – suddenly – a wall appears, and there it is! On the side of the road, seemingly in the middle of nothing. Upon exiting the car, the sweetness of the mountain air overwhelms the senses. It’s completely silent, save for the natural sounds of the mountain – the birds, the stream. 

And then entering the gates – wow. It’s everything like the pictures and nothing like it at all. It engulfs. The color, the intricate detailing, the snow-capped backdrop, the church walls of solid gold.

I’ve truly never seen anything like it.