At about 7.5 kilometers over the Rila Monastery, at a height of 1465 meters is located Kirilova meadow, one of the most beautiful places in Rila Mountain.
The meadow is surrounded by some of the most scary and majestic peaks of Rila – Iglata, Dvuglav, Zliya zab, Kupenite and Lovnitsa, which makes it not only the ideal place for rest and picnic, but also a starting point for some of the most interesting tourist routes in Rila Mountain.
Maybe you already know that we will introduce you to some of the most popular routes that start from Kirilova meadow, but this will happen after a little. Before that we would like to tell you more about Kirilova meadow, which is not only a huge open space, but an area that has very interesting history.
Many years ago, during the rule of the Bulgarian tsar Boris III, his brother Cyril (Kiril) often came to Rila to hunt and to gather with friends right on this meadow. That’s why local people call it Kirilova, and later on this name was officially adopted.
After September 1944, and after the Communism came to Bulgaria, the meadow was renamed to Partisan meadow. The communists changed the name of the area, because during the partisan movement, the partisans of the Rila-Pirin partisan detachment were hiding at Kirilova meadow.
After the overthrow of the regimen and the democratic changes in 1989, the area was renamed and from “Partisan” was called Kirilova meadow again.
How to get to Kirolova meadow?
If your starting point is Bansko, first you have to go from the town of Bansko to the Rila Monastery. The distance between these two points is about 94 kilometers, as the time that you will need (if you don’t stop on the way and at normal speed) is about an hour and a half.
Once you reach the monastery, you have two options – to go round the monastery and choose the tourist path that leads to Kirilova meadow, or to continue with your car.
If you prefer the second option, then you have to take the asphalt road that is located behind the cloister and it will lead you right to the meadow.
Getting to Kirilova meadow is easy, but what to do when you are already there?
If you don’t want to walk around, you can just get a nice rest. The area offers not only incredible views to the mountain, but also many places where you can make a picnic and have fun just the way you like it.
Nearby, there are also a few restaurants where you can spend the night and enjoy delicious food (if suddenly you decide that you don’t want to go and you want to sleep there).
But if your goal is to make a walk through Rila Mountain, then you can choose one of the tourist routes, which as we have already mentioned, all start right from Kirilova meadow.
Popular tourist routes
Kirilova meadow – The Dry Lake
First we start with this route because it is the most popular for the tourists, as the passage lasts only about 2 hours.
If you decide to go see the Dry Lake, then you should look for a path with marking in white-green-white and choose this path. The passage is of medium difficulty, but there are some steep places, so it is good to be prepared with comfortable tourist shoes and jacket to protect you from wind or rain (if it rains).
In the beginning the path runs smoothly and without big displacement, but in about half an hour you will reach the Karkulitsite area where you have to overcome more significant displacement. Although the Karkulitsite area is steeper, the view revealed from this place to the Rila peaks and to the Rila Monastery is worth the effort. Once you pass the moraines the path becomes smooth again and after a while you will get to the valley of the Dry Lake.
The Dry Lake is the lowest located mountain lake in Rila mountain (1928 meters). It is a glacial, it has almost rectangular form, as its width and length are about 270 meters in length and about 120 meters in width.
It is called the Dry Lake because it is endorheic and is filled only with the melting ice and snow, as well as from two small streams that flow into it during spring. Since there is no permanent water flow to it, often during the summer months the lake disappears almost completely and that’s why it is called the Dry Lake.
Kirolova meadow – the Dry Lake is one of the most popular tourist routes also because during the walk you can see a plenty of plant species, which grow only in this region of Rila. That’s why the other name of this route is the Botanical route.
You may continue your walk from the Dry Lake to the „Kobilino branishte” area, as from there you can follow the marked path to one of the huts that are located there.
Kirilova meadow – the Fish Lakes – The Smradlivo Lake
If you choose this route, it starts from the eastern part of the meadow where you can see an information board with detailed guidance. In the beginning the route goes in parallel with the gorge of the Rilska River. You have to follow the path until you reach an iron bridge.
Once you pass the bridge you will see a diversion, which leads to a beautiful waterfall of the Devil‘s River. (If you are not in a hurry, we recommend you to see the waterfall, as it is really very picturesque, especially when it is full of water).
But if you don’t want to lose time, then continue walking until you get to the Tiha Rila canton. Once you get there, continue walking on the forest path, which passes along with Rilska river and in about 20 minutes (after you pass the canton) you will reach the Lower Fish Lake.
If you need some time to recharge your energy, you can stop in the “Fish Lakes” hut, which is located nearby to the Lower Fish Lake, and there you can eat some food or drink a cup of tea.
After you feel more energized the walk continues to the Upper Fish Lake, which is located only about 300 meters over the hut. To continue to the Smradlivo Lake you have to go back to the hut and take the northwest on the path that leads to the lake.
The route Kirilova meadow – Fish Lakes – the Smradlivo Lake is of medium difficulty and lasts up for about 5 hours.
Smradlivo Lake is the biggest glacial lake located high in the mountain not only in Bulgaria, but also in the Balkans. The lake is about 900 meters long and its width is about 260 meters.
The legend tells that many years ago there was a terrible storm that splashed the waters of the lake and threw fish on the bank, and that fish got smelly. Since then the name of the lake is the “Smradlivo Lake” (“The Smelly Lake”).
Besides these two popular tourist routes, from Kirilova meadow start also a lot of routes to climb the nearby peaks, but if you are not well prepared and equipped, it is better not to take risks.
Instead, if this walk is not enough for you, there is an option to go down from Kirilova meadow and take on the Dendrological route, which starts from the Rila Monastery.
This route is very pleasant and easy, so if you are with little children we strongly recommend it to you. The path starts from the monastery and goes along the road leading to the cave
and to the grave of St. Ivan Rilski. It is called a Dendrological route because here you can see many three species that are specific for the Rila National Park such as mountain maple, ash tree, fir, spruce, mountain ash, hazel bush and many other tree species.
In addition to enjoying this great tree variety, you can also render homage to Ivan Rilski and visit the cave where he lived his life as a hermit. There is a legend according to which anyone who passes through the hole of the cave will cleanse his soul.
Near the cave you can drink from the holy spring which is considered to be healing, and according to the local people, the water in it never freezes, even in the coldest winters.
Speaking of children, we forgot to mention that while you are resting on Kirilova meadow, your children can try to make a short walk on the Path of the young nature-lover.
The children’s route is very smooth and easy, as there is no danger for children to get lost in the forest, but if you are scared of leaving them on their own, nothing stops you from accompanying them.
The path goes along the meadow in the forest, passes through centuries-old forests, meadows with beautiful flowers, as well as through specified observation places, passes by bird feeders, continues to the healing area where children can get familiar with various types of curative herbs that grow in Rila and their respective application.
In addition to the Path of the young nature-lover, your children can walk also the circular children’s route „In the forest home”. The route is very interesting for the kids, as they can learn something intriguing about the forest and the forest animals and plants, as well as to obtain basic knowledge on orientation.
Kirilova meadow area is beautiful almost in all seasons of the year, so it doesn’t matter when you decide to make a one-day walk to this place, you can‘t choose wrong.
The one-day walk in the “Rila Monastery” park can end with a visit of the Rila Monastery. The cloister is a place where you can go many times and every time you can find something new.
Explore it once again, go to the top of the Hrelyova tower and enjoy the silence and peace of the monastery cloister. Then enter the main church and light a candle, pray for health and happiness. Before leaving don’t forget to buy warm mekitsa/fried dough and monastery bread, then take the road back to the town of Bansko.