Central Sofia Synagogue (Tsentralna Sofiiska Sinagoga) is one of the biggest synagogues in Europe, actually the second largest Sephardic (spanish-jewish) synagogue in Europe. Most of the jewish that came to Bulgaria during the 15th century when they were expelled from christian Spain, and accepted in ottoman empire. In 20th century they were a respected part of Sofia, 1 out of 5 citizen of Sofia before WWII was a jew.
The impressive building in Moorish style was built in 1909 with a capacity of 1300 people! The history of jewish people is very interesting because although Bulgaria was part of the Axis during WWII when Germany demanded the transfer of jewish people to concentration camps there were many politicians and even the orthodox church that was against that and they supported diversity in their own country. Many deported to the countryside and hopefully for them the synagogue wasn’t destroyed but it was partly bombed during the war. After the war communist state was against any religion so many jews moved to Isreal. In our days there are about 2000 jews in Sofia.
The interior was nice anyway with some geometric patterns in bright colors but the most impressive thing was the huge brass chandelier that was made of brass in Vienna and has a weight of 1,700 kilos (it’s 19.20 meter high). The 1170 seats are divided into the stalls (men) and the balcony (women), not fair I know but the acoustics are great from every corner :)
There is a small praying room (pic 4) on the right door as you come into the synagogue, I guess the people feel more comfortable there.
The small jewish museum (walk at the back side of the yard and go up the stairs) goes through the story of jewish people in Bulgaria although the man at the main gate (not a jewish but a Christian) told me much more than the lady in the museum! There are photos, documents etc
The entrance fee for the synagoge is 2 leva +2leva for the Museum.
It’s usually open mon-fri 9.00-17.00 (Saturdays till 13.00)
This synagogue has a great history.
It's certainly worth visiting, the interior decoration is great, and I was so lucky to sample the acoustics as well, (the cantor was chanting when I was visiting), they are perfect.
It is the largest synagogue in south eastern europe
Well worth a visit.
With a total capacity of about 1200 people, Sofia's synagogue (Sofiyska sinagoga) is among the largest synagogues in Europe.
It was designed by the Austrian architect Friedrich Grünanger and completed in 1909.
Sofia's synagogue is located just behind the Central Market Hall (Tsentralni Hali) in the very heart of the city centre.
Behind the market hall you will find the synagogue. It’s an impressive looking building. It was built from 1905 till 1909 and designed by the Austrian architect Friedrich Gruenanger. The dome is 30 meters high and it’s one of the biggest synagogues in Europe.
the third biggest synagogue in Europe (after the ones in Budapest and Amsterdam); designed by the Austrian architect Friedrich Gruenanger in the Spanish Moorish style with elements of the Viennese Secession movement; the plan was based on the Sephardic Synagogue in Vienna by a request of the leaders of the Jewish community; opened in 1909 in the presence of Tzar Ferdinand.
Today - 9.09.2009 the synagogue in Sofia celebrates its 100. anniversary.
It is worth noting that despite being members of the Axis in WWII, Sofia did not send one Bulgarian Jew to the concentration camps nor to the death camps.
Jewish people from Greece and the former Yugoslavia were transferred to the camps, but the Bulgarians felt that even if Jewish, Bulgarian citizens were not to be transferred.
It is thanks to the public opinion of the Bulgarian citizen that the Jewish citizens of Bulgaria were saved. This tolerance of others is rarely seen, if ever, anywhere else in Europe.
The Sofia Synagogue has stood in the same place since 1909. Located on ul. Ezarkh Yosif a 150 meter walk down from Knyaginya Maria Luiza it is but meters from the Banya Bashi Mosque. Both are fully active with no conflict.
It is the largest Sephardi Synagogue in Europe.
When I was there, just 2 days before Passover, there were piles of Matzot prepared for distribution. I saw many old Jewish people coming in to receive a share.
There is also a Kosher restaurant, and other kosher foods are provided with arrangements in advance.
Entry fee 2 lev.
The Jewish community in Bulgaria dates back to the first century BCE, but the bulk of the community's ancestors actually come to Bulgaria from Spain, Portugal and Italy from the 15th century onward after the spread of the Holy Inquisition. The Ottoman Turks welcomed them throughout the Empire and the community of Romaniote (Greek-speaking) Jews in Sofia was swelled by the influx of Sefardi. This short historical sketch explains the obviously Moorish influences of the synagogue, built at the beginning of the 20th century. It was modelled after Spanish synagogues and thus looks more like Morrocan or Moorish structures than an Ottoman building. The exterior of the synagogue is quite ornate, but the real treasure is inside, where the heaviest chandelier in all of Bulgaria hangs. It has 444 stars of david incorporated to represent the 444 prayers of the Torah. The ceiling and walls are painted with geometric patterns in bright colours (the synagogue was recently restored). The actual prayer room, however, is at the front of the building in a much more modest setting, as the now very small community finds it more comfortable to hold services there. There is also a Jewish Museum (entrance 2 leva) at the back of the synagogue. In truth, its not that great, as it doesn't focus on everyday Jewish life in Sofia and has a bizarre collection of information about famous Jews, most of whom were born outside of Bulgaria.
This is the 3rd largest synagogue in Europe, next to those in Budapest and Amsterdam.
It was built between 1905 and 1909, according to the designs of the Austrian architect Grunanger.
It's interesting to see the 2.25t-heavy chandelier within the central dome, the biggest on the Balkans, and the outer walls ornamented with floral and geometric motifs.
closed: Bulgarian and Jewish holidays
This is the largest sephardic synagogue in Europe. It's really beautiful! You can see a very beautiful Spanish-Moorish style synagogue as well.
On the first floor you can visit de Jewish Museum. There you will learn the history of the jews in Bulgaria. It's very nicely arranged, and very informative too.
The synagogue in Sofia is situated in the very heart of the Bulgarian capital. It is the third largest in Europe, next to the synagogues in Budapest and Amsterdam. Designed by Austrian architect Grunander in a Spanish-Moresque style, the temple resembles the Vienna synagogue destroyed by the Nazis. It was opened on 9 September 1909, and the ceremony was attended by tzar Ferdinand and tzaritza Eleonora.
One of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Sofia, the synagogue accommodates 1300 worshippers. Its central lustre weighs two tons and is the largest in Bulgaria. For already several years the synagogue has been under restoration - because of the complexity of the work and the shortage of funds. Its restoration is soon to be finished, and now the synagogue is shining in all its splendour. The project has been financed by the Bulgarian state and Israel, by private entrepreneurs and individual donations.
In an area of just 1 sq. km (or maybe less) you can find mosque, sinagogue, russian church and the biggest bulgarian cathedral :)
here's a photo of the sinagogue