Day 1: Visit to Sofia's magnificent Great Synagogue, which is the only surviving synagogue out of a dozen that stood in the city before WW II. Believed to be the largest Sephardic synagogue in Europe, it seats 1200 and was built in a lavish, Byzantine-Moorish style that fits right in with many of the surrounding buildings.
Day 2: Departure to Vidin on the Danube river and visit to the ruins of the once magnificent synagogue, now standing roofless and in bad conditions. Even so, some decorative elements remain, including arched windows, two small towers and a big ornamental arch, supported by columns.
Day 3: Departure to Rousse - home of Nobel Prize winning author Elias Canetti. Visit to the local Jewish community center.
Day 4: Day tour to Silistra and the tomb of Rabbi Eliezer Papo - popular place for annual pilgrimage for Jewish people from all over the world. Eliezer Papo (1785–1828) is a Jewish rabbi who served as communal leader in the the town of Silistra in the early 19th century and rescued the local population from the exploded in the camp of the Russian army cholera epidemic.
Day 5: Departure to Varna on the Black Sea coast. Visit to the two synagogues, both listed as historic monuments. One of them was a small Ashkenazic synagogue long used as sports center, being restored now days. The other one was a large Sephardic synagogue, built in an ornate Moorish-Gothic style in 1890. Sadly the place is in ruins and stays empty and abandoned for many years now ...
Day 6: En route to Plovdiv we will visit one of Bulgaria's largest and best preserved Jewish cemeteries located in the town of Karnobat. It was established as early as the 16th century and it was in use for over 300 years. Afternoon visit to the so-called Zion Synagogue in Plovdiv, which is the only synagogue in the country besides the one in Sofia, that still functions as a house of worship. Built in the late 19th century, the sanctuary is a glorious burst of color. All surfaces are covered in elaborate, oriental style floral and geometric designs in rich shades of green, blue, cream, brown and rose.
Day 7: En route to Samokov we will visit the two beautiful mid-19th century synagogues in Pazardjik. Now days the larger one, whose walls are covered with decorative paintings is used as a warehouse and the other as a coffee shop.
Day 8: Morning walk around the small, sleepy town of Samokov located in the forested foothills of the Rila Mountain. The place has a pleasant center whose most striking buildings are a mosque and a synagogue, both dating from the 19th century. Considered a typical example of neobaroque Balkan Revival architecture, the synagogue is listed as a historical monument. Afternoon departure to Sofia.
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Europe Bulgaria Spiritual Odyssey Pilgrimage/Spirituality Cultural Journey