The Sofia Synagogue is the third largest in Europe (after a newly constructed one in Uman, Ukraine and the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest). The Synagogue in Sofia was built (like Dohány Street) during the great Jewish revival of the late 19th Century. At that time Judaism was being given more freedom in Europe, particularly in the South Eastern European states.
Bulgaria had a very large, mostly Sephardic, Jewish community and in 1903 it was decided to build a Synagogue. Construction began in 1905 and was finished in 1909. The Synagogue can accommodate 1,300 worshippers and stands right next to Sofia’s Central Market, giving it a prime location in the City.
Directly across the road is the Banya Bashi Mosque.
The chandelier inside the Synagogue weighs a massive 1.7 tons, making it the largest in Bulgaria.
Despite the size of the Synagogue and Bulgaria’s exemplary record during the World War II holocaust regarding its Jewish population, today less than 100 Jews regularly attend at the Synagogue, most of the population left for Israel in the late 1940s and 1950s.
In 1992 a museum opened inside the Synagogue charting Bulgaria’s Jewish History.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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