The Rila Monastery, which is also known as The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, is the largest and most popular monastery of Eastern Orthodox in Bulgaria.
How the present-day’s monastery edifices look like was set by Aleski Rilets, the first Bulgarian architect. He planned the architectural design and led the creation of the north wing with its well-known monastery kitchen, the eastern wing and the western wing. This is portrayed by 3 plaques above the mill’s doors, the Dupnitsa and the Samokov entrances. Aside from his name, the plaques also include the names of Teodosii and Father Superior Yosif. Subsequent to the upsetting fire that took place in the year 1833, Aleksi Rilets guided the reconstruction of the wrecked wooden parts of the monastery with help from three thousand master builders, who were able to get it done within just ten days.
The whole complex is rather remarkable for its dimension. The residential part of four floors is consisted of not less than three hundred monks’ cells, four chapels, one abbot’s room, one kitchen, one library, and a couple of guest rooms for the donors. The kitchen in particular is really interesting because of its large cooking tools. The outside of the monastery is also as intriguing because of its harsh and high stone walls incised through by little windows, giving us a more military fort feel than a monastery.
If you happen to get inside the complex, visiting the monastery museum is highly suggested. It holds a special work of art called The Raphael’s Cross. This cross is named after its artist and is actually made of one whole piece of wood. The monk made use of a magnifying lens, little knives and fine chisels in order to carve 650 tiny figures and 104 spiritual scenes into the cross.