Saint John of Rila
The Ruen monastery, “St John of Rila”, is situated in a beatiful place close to the town of Boboshevo which lies about 8km away off the main road connection Sofia to the border checkpoint of Kulata. A couple of kilometers further from the town is the village of Skrino, the native place of St. Ivan of Rila, while the moneastery is up in the mountain above the village.
The Ruen monastery is one of the most recently established monasteries in Bulgaria. It was built in 2002 while during our visit, the construction of the monks’ living part was still being finished. The church has an original architecture, nice wall paintings and a beautiful golden altar. While no visitors are allowed into the monastery on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the monks are quite welcoming on the other days of the week. On Sundays and on holidays, guests can take a moment to enjoy the performance of the young monks’ choir. A steep path from the monastery leads up to a cave, believed to have been the first shelter of the hermit John of Rila before he settled in the region of the present-day Rila monastery. Further up the hill one reaches a big cross perking ominously over the edge of a steep rock. Acording to the legend, the cross shows the place, from which a Bulgarian maiden jumped in despair in order to escape from its Ottoman persecutors.
The Ruen monastery does not offer food and accommodation. The nearby village is not a tourist destination and hence does not have such facilities either.
It is not quite easy to reach the Ruen monastery. First, one needs to follow the mainroad from Sofia to Kulata and then take the offroad to Boboshevo. Once in Boboshevo, one needs to follow the signs to Kyustendil in order to reach the village of Skrino (about 5km away from Boboshevo). Finally, the last challenge is the 3km road from Skrino to the monastery, which is dirty and unpaved and can be hardly passed by an ordinary car. In case you do not drive a jeep or a vehicle of the kind, we recommend that you walk on foot from the village to the monastery - it takes about 30min.