The Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by disciples of the hermit monk St Ivan of Rila who reputedly lived in a cave nearby. Some parts of the complex date from the 14th century, but most of it, including the main church and the monks’ dormitories seen here, was constructed in the 19th century after a devastating fire. As well as its religious significance the monastery was a centre of Bulgarian identity, language and culture during the centuries of Ottoman occupation.