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 destroyed much of the older complex. As well as its religious significance the monastery was a centre of Bulgarian identity, language and culture during the centuries of Ottoman occupation.
This is a great building to photograph and when I’m out with a camera I invariably end up here and take some more pictures. On this occasion it was late afternoon with the sun sinking, the moon rising and beautiful light. I had my ‘better’ camera with me and I originally planned to go in and take some interior shots, but it was too nice to be inside so I wandered around the square outside for an hour or so and took these pictures.
These shots of the interior of the Alexander Nevsky cathedral were taken with a small sensor LX5 compact camera and in the dim interior the quality suffers a little but remains surprisingly good considering.
Despite its Byzantine appearance the grand Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia is relatively recent. The foundation stone was laid in 1882 and most of the construction was carried out between 1904 and 1912. While the Cathedral belongs to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church it is named for a 13th century Russian prince and Orthodox saint in honour of the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 which resulted in Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule.
The Cathdral is in need of restoration and last year the figure of 20 million leva was being quoted (that’s around £9 million or $11 million), but following a recent assessment the cost is now put at a considerably more affordable 4 million leva. That does not include restoration of the frescoes and other artworks that have been damaged by water leaks. While it is a very striking building, all the more so when the sun is shining and glinting off the gold plated domes, its lacks the intimacy and sense of presence that smaller churches do.