Kyustendil Province
Architecture

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Our most recommended Kyustendil Province Architecture

From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

1. From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

Depart Sofia at 09:00 AM sharp, and relax on the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery in the Rila Mountains. Upon arrival, explore the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Admire the arcaded balconies, and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Hear the story of the monastery from your guide before enjoying some time to explore the monastic complex on your own. Learn more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. Take some time to refuel with lunch at one of the local restaurants, where you can purchase local specialties such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep fried). Depart at 01:30 PM and travel to Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia. See the historically significant frescoes of the Byzantine building, and hear how they started the fashion for illustrating biblical figures with emotions and placing them alongside the local aristocracy. With an estimated arrival time at the church of approximately 03:40 PM, enjoy about 30 minutes to explore. Leave at around 04:10 PM for the drive to Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center by 04:30 PM to 05:00 PM.

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Rila Monastery Day Trip from Sofia

2. Rila Monastery Day Trip from Sofia

Board the shuttle service behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center. Then, head to the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Get over 2 hours of free time to explore the complex, founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Wander down quiet outdoor corridors adorned with beautiful mosaics, and see gold-plated iconostasis and valuable icons from the 14th to 19th century. Learn more about the history of the site at the museum, where highlights include the double-sided crucifix of the Rila Cross. See the old bakery and other monuments, including the residential area of high stone walls and little windows. Board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the pick-up point on arrival.

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From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

3. From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

The tour departs early in the morning in front of Alexander Nevski. Your first stop will be the great UNESCO Boyana Church located on the outskirts of Sofia consisting of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th-century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-story building to be erected next to it. After exploring it, head to Rila Monastery, where you will admire the impressive architecture, frescoes and learn about the history of the monastery from your guide. During the guided tour in the inner yard and the monastery museum, discover the most precious pieces that are kept from the past and all the facts and stories about the largest Bulgarian monastery complex.

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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

4. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

After pickup from any accommodation in Sofia, your journey through over 1,000 years of Bulgarian cultural history begins. Make the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery via air-conditioned bus into the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain. Upon arriving, explore the monastery, which was founded in 927, at your own pace with 2 hours of free time. Amble the 21-acre complex, taking in the colorful and unique traditional Orthodox architecture. Gaze at the 5-domed church, with its numerous altars, side chapels, and gold-plated mosaics. Take in the beauty of the tranquil mountain environment surrounding the peaceful place of worship. Afterwards, you’ll have lunch, before heading on to your next destination. Only a couple of miles away from the monastery into the forest is St. Ivan Rilski Cave, where St. Ivan of Rila took up residency in the early 10th century. Experience a sacred site of tremendous importance to Bulgarian Orthodox Christians. On the way back to Sofia, you’ll pass through Boyana Church, famed for its elaborate frescoes dating back to the 11th, 13th, 15th-17th, and 19th century. Afterwards, you’ll be transported back back to your accommodation in Sofia.

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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church: Small Group Tour

5. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church: Small Group Tour

Situated deep in the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain, Rila Monastery is the biggest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. It is an outstanding example of the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage, in which architecture and painting merge harmoniously. The site is part of UNESCO world heritage list. Rila Monastery was found in the 10th century by St. Ivan Rilski, a Hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy place and later on a monastic complex was formed. It played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. After the guided visit of the Monastery complex and lunch, we will head back to Sofia. On the way, we will stop at the second UNESCO site for the day, Boyana church. Small but unique with the most preserved frescoes in this part of Europe, dating back to 1259. The tour will end with drop-off at your hotel.

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From Bansko: Rila Monastery Half-Day Tour

6. From Bansko: Rila Monastery Half-Day Tour

Meet your driver in Bansko and board the air-conditioned vehicle to travel to Rila Monastery. Relax during the 1.5-hour drive as you admire the beautiful Bulgarian landscape. Arrive at the monastery at approximately 3 PM, giving you plenty of time to explore the complex inside and out. Admire its balconies and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Stop at one of the 2 restaurants in the complex to have something to eat or drink. Take the opportunity to discover more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. The departure time from Rila Monastery will be between 5 and 5:30 PM. At the end of the tour, your driver will drop you off at your accommodation in Bansko.

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From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

7. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

Depart from Sofia city center at 7:00 AM (for the period May to September, departure is at 07:30 AM) and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver. After your 2-hour transfer in an air-conditioned minibus, you will reach the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Once there, you have more than 1-hour to explore the monastic complex at your own pace -more than enough time to see all the major parts of the complex. The monastery was founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Continue with a 3.5-hour transfer to the city of Plovdiv (a short break half-way is included) and get more than 4.5 hours to explore Bulgaria's second largest city, famous for its Old Town, Roman remains and Kapana artistic district. Your driver will provide you with a free copy of a tourist city map. Board the shuttle bus at 6:00 PM (for the period May to September, departure is 6:30 PM) at the agreed meeting point and return to Sofia in the evening to be dropped off at the meeting point behind St.Alexander Nevski Cathedral.

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Boyana Church & Rila Monastery Full-Day Private Tour

8. Boyana Church & Rila Monastery Full-Day Private Tour

The tour departs early in the morning and heads to the tranquil hearth of Rila Mountains where you can admire the impressive Rila Monastery (UNESCO). Its architecture and frescoes present the apogee of Bulgarian Renaissance art. During the guided tour in the inner yard and the monastery museum, you will discover the most treasured monuments and learn the most fascinating facts and stories about the biggest Bulgarian monastery complex. The first stop will be at the Rilla monastery and the museum, so you can fully explore the history and see what it was in the past. After the museum you will have the chance to explore more about the complex and then visit the surrounding mountain around the monastery.  There will be sufficient time to stop and have lunch by the side of the river in one of the greatest restaurants on the side of the road back to Sofia. There you will have the chance to taste some great Bulgarian cuisine.You will also have free time to buy souvenirs, take some photos and then continue on to the tour. After visiting Rila mountains, you will go back to Sofia and on the way stop at Boyana church. Part of the UNESCO heritage area, it's located deep in the Vitosha mountain near Sofia. Located on the outskirts of Sofia, Boyana Church consists of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th century by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two storey building to be erected next to it. The frescoes in this second church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings. The ensemble is completed by a third church, built at the beginning of the 19th century. This site is one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art.

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Rila Monastery Wine Tasting Tour

9. Rila Monastery Wine Tasting Tour

Medi Valley Winery is a classic winery complex located at the crossroads of a multi-directional touristic compass. The winery will be an unforgettable experience that will provoke the senses and stimulate the mind, learning about local history and traditions. The Rila Monastery private tour includes a wine tasting of five different local wines, produced in the vicinity of Rila Monastery. The full-day tour of this UNESCO site in Rila includes an exclusive 60-minute wine tasting tour. You'll be impressed by the knowledge and energy of your guides as you learn about Bulgaria.  Rila monastery is the holiest place for the Bulgarian orthodoxy, where past, present and future are interlaced. To make your day tour of this magnificent monastery unforgettable, after spending two hours at this holy place, you will be taken for a unique wine tasting to a wine cell in the feet of Rila mountain. Before the Bulgarians, The Thracians were the rulers of these territories. Their remarkable culture and warrior dignity are woven in the wine of the region, called after one of their greatest tribes, The Medi. The great Spartacus itself originated from here. Your tour will start with pick-up from your accommodation in Sofia. After a 2-hour drive you will reach the Monastery in the Rila Mountain, at an altitude of 1147 meters (3763 feet) above sea level. The introduction of the UNESCO site will begin with brief history of the founder and the construction of the monastery. After that you will visit the church and medieval 14th century defense tower. After you finish exploring the monastery complex you will have lunch at a cozy restaurant and sample some local food (grilled trout specialty). Then you will make your way to Medi Valley winery where you will have the possibility of trying five different types of wines. A short story about the history of the region, the winery and the current products will be followed by a question-and-answer session. 

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Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church with Lunch & Admission

10. Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church with Lunch & Admission

Depart Sofia and travel to the Rila Mountains to visit Rila Monastery, the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1976, the monastery is set deep in the dense pine forests of the mountains and has been considered the keeper of Bulgaria's national identity since the Middle Ages. Marvel at the domes and striped colonnades of the monastery complex, and discover some amazing examples of Bulgarian icon paintings and woodcarving in the museum. See the cave where the monastery's founder, Saint Ivan Rilski lived and was buried. Learn how he was considered a miracle worker and why his cave is believed to be sacred. Then, go to Boyana Church on the outskirts of Sofia, added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1979. Admire its Byzantine architecture and Greek cross ground-plan with domes. Be mesmerized by the richly decorated facades and interior of the church, where several layers of wall paintings date from the 11th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th centuries. Look at the frescoes from 1259 and their depictions of life in Bulgaria in the Middle Ages. According to the experts, the style of these paintings is reminiscent of the Renaissance, even though they were created much earlier.

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What people are saying about Kyustendil Province

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 450 reviews

Our guide, Philip, was extremely knowledge about the monastery itself and about the history of his country. By the time we arrived we had an understanding of what we were visiting but were still unprepared for how stunning the place actually was. Pictures do not do it justice. We would encourage any visitor to take the opportunity to go.

really nice Guide, Philipp was verhelpful and told us many interesting things. the church was smaller than expected, but still very pretty. the monastery was lovely and ee had a great time there

Our excursions with bob was absolutely brilliant, he explained to us the history of Bulgaria as well as the different places visited!

Filip was an outstanding guide. A very special excursion I recommend it to everyone ... enchanting places

Super interesting tour! Both me and my friends really enjoyed it and would totally recommend it!