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Rila is the tallest mountain in Bulgaria and on the Balkan Peninsula. It is located in the Sout-West part of the country and is part of the Rilo-Rhodope massif. With its highest peak– Musala reaching 2925 m., Rila mountain ranges 6th among Europe’s tallest mountains behind the Caucasus, the Alps, the Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Mount Etna.
The name ‘Rila’ most probably is of Thracian origin, meaning “the water mountain,” due to some 200 glacier lakes and mineral springs, found on the foot of the mountain. Rila Mountain is home to the most picturesque and visited lake groups in Bulgaria – the Seven Rila lakes, which are on Bulgaria’s top 100 historical sites list. Rila Mountain serves as the primary water source for some of the largest, high water rivers in Bulgaria, including Iskar, Maritsa and Mesta river. Over a third of the mountain is included within the boundaries of the Rila National Park.
Rila Mountain enchants not just with its beauty but also with many historical and cultural landmarks. The mountain is home to the Rila monastery – one of the most significant cultural sites - Bulgaria’s national symbol, listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The monastery is situated in the deep valley of the Rila River, at 1147 m. above sea level. Founded in the 10th century by Saint John of Rila, the actual buildings were erected in the 19th century.