The Sofia Synagogue is the largest in Southeastern Europe and the third largest in Europe as a whole.
The Sofia Synagogue is located right next to the Central Market Hall (”Halite”), which puts it in the so-calles “Square of Tolerence”. “The Square of Tolerence” is the space between St. Nedelya Orthodox Church, Banya Bashi Mosque and the Saint Joseph Catholic Cathedral, which sets aprime example of the fact that the four major religions can coexist harmoniously.
The synagogue was built in 1909 by the design of the Austrian architect Friedrich Grünanger, who intended that it would be a replica of the old Moorish Leopoldstädter Tempelin Vienna, which was destroyed during WWII. The brass chandelier, which weighs over 22 tons and the candelabra (menorah), along with the other decorations were imported from Austria.
The building of the synagogue was damaged during the bombardment of Sofia in 1944. The destruction and the following exposure to the elements “ate” away at the intricate ornamental design. The building was restored thanks to a donation from the Doron Foundation of Israel.
Today the Synagogue is still in process of restoration. Although regular services are conducted, the main sanctuary is closed for public. The Synagogue also houses a small museum on it’s second floor.
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