This is the grandest monastery in Bulgaria whose architectural and artistic magnificence have assigned it a worthy place in the List of World Culture and Natural Heritage under UNESCO protection since 1983. Founded in the 10th century, the monastery underwent several stages of construction. Its founder has been assumed to be St Ivan Rilski (John of Rila) , a renowned Bulgarian hermit and healer, protector of the Bulgarian people. Together with his disciples he set up a monastic community making up the core of Rila Monastery. Rebuilt, deserted, reduced to ashes by the Turks and built anew the monastery has been a witness and a symbol of the eventful Bulgarian history. On the outside the monastery has a severe and inaccessible appearance of an emphatically defensive character to give protection against the Turkish attacks.