Osogovo, Stob Pyramids & Rila

OsogovoThe small ski area of Osogovo was somewhere I had marked to visit for a while, so as we were heading over in that direction, we decided to head towards Kustendil and up into the mountains to find the ski runs. It was a long drive up and the weather was closing in when we got to the top. There were a couple of hotels, one newer one and an older one, the odd restaurant and then we came across one ski lift on the edge of the road. We spent the night camped by a leaky BBQ area while a storm raged around us, before heading off in the mountain to find the Stob Pyramids.

Stob PyramidsThe Stob Pyramids are more weird and wonderful rock formations due to erosion and weather, than pyramids. They are located just on the edge of the village of Stob, just off the motorway from Sofia down to Greece (Kulata crossing) and on the road that leads to the Rila Monastery. The ‘pyramids’are well sign-posted and you drive through the narrow village streets and then get to a decent sized car park by the church. It cost 2 levs per person for the entry and you could take dogs so long as they were on leads. It was quite a steep hike and more like a scramble in some places, but well worth it when you get to the top and look down and across at the narrow rock pinnacles, some of which have stones on the top like hats. It maybe takes around 40 minutes to get to the top and 20 minutes or so to get back down again.

Stob PyramidsAccording to local legend, the pyramids were formed when there was a wedding and the bride was so beautiful that the best man tried to kiss her and all the guests were turned to stone. We then continued up the road through the village of Rila and towards the monastery. It was very slow going as there were numerous road works going on,with traffic lights making the road single file in many places, although the Bulgarians often chose to ignore the red lights and stop signs, making for an interesting journey. We had booked into a hotel on the edge of the road, just a short drive from the Monastery and so stopped there, got the dogs settled in the room, had a late lunch and then went off to explore the Monastery.

Rila MonasteryI have been to the Monastery a couple of times over the years but it still never fails to impress. Parking is fairly limited and costs a few levs but actual entrance to the Monastery is free, unless you want to visit the museums. Please remember that this is a place of worship and you are meant to cover your shoulders to go in and are not allowed to wear crop tops or Bermuda shorts or very short shorts or skirts. You maybe refused entry if you do not adhere to the dress code.

It is lovely to just wander around the main building and take in the architecture, however, you should also make an effort to walk down the path at the rear of the Monastery (where the restaurants are) and go down the hill towards the river. Here you will find the Ossuary, where the bones of the monks that have lived and worked at Rila Monastery are kept. There is a small graveyard and a little chapel building which was closed.

Rila Monastery
Ossuary at Rila Monastery – the graves
Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery

With the weather deteriorating and a storm threatening, we made out way back up to the main Monastery and wandered back through the now quiet central court yard and got back to the hotel just as a massive deluge started.