The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila is named after its founder, the hermit Saint Ivan during the late 9th and Early 10th century. Saint Ivan didn’t live at the monastery itself but in a cave nearby which can be visited from the monastery.
Nowadays the monastery is home to around 60 Eastern orthodox monks and is the largest in Bulgaria. The monastery played an important part in maintaing Bulgaria language and culture whilst Bulgaria was under Ottoman rule. Whilst the monastery has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times throughout its history the current building dates to around the mid 19th century. The church located in the central courtyard is painted with magnificent and vibrant murals depicting the life of Saint Ivan along with other Biblical scenes and is truly impressive.