This was my first time to this UNESCO world heritage site, but I'll probably end up going again with other visitors who come to Sofia. It is a very unique and beautiful monastery set in the Rila mountains. Upon first sight, Rachel and I noted how it would be a good setting for a Tim Burton movie.
See what I mean? Not very man churches have so many stripes. In the tenth century, John of Rila traveled to the Rila valley for solitude and enlightenment. He eventually established a monastery high in the mountains, which is now a famous pilgrim site. His left hand is still in the church. We tried to find it, but weren't really sure if it was his remains, or relics of another saint. Creepy, but interesting.
We walked around the monastery for a bit. Unfortunately, we were not able to climb up and down the stairs through the various corridors, but the inside of the church was beautiful, with various icons and beautiful artwork. No pictures allowed, however. You guys will have to be satisfied with pictures of the beautiful architecture.
Afterward, we went to the monastery restaurant and ate a delicious bowl of bean soup. I got the recipe, and I'll try to cook it later and post a how-to for monastery soup.