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High in the coniferous forests of Rila Mountain some 70 miles south of Sofia, Bulgaria’s most celebrated monastic complex was founded by the hermit Ivan Rilsky (AD876-946), whose tomb became a holy site that played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. It was destroyed by fire in the early 19th century and rebuilt by 1862, to become a symbol of national identity. The complex includes a museum and and important library of 250 manuscripts and 9,000 printed items.
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