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22.07.2015

Did you know that Sofia is one of the fewest cities in the world that has operational Orthodox church, Muslim mosque and Jewish synagogue placed in a close triangle within 2 minutes walk by foot from each other? Religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence is something of a tradition in Bulgaria, and a very high-minded to say at least.

The St. Petka Samardzhiyska (Saint Petka of the Saddlers) Christian Orthodox church is placed in what is now an underpass, near the Serdika metro station in the very center of the city. There is the huge TZUM Central department store, the Sheraton, one of the Parliament buildings and the Presidential office forming a triangle of voluminous rugged buildings with a very noticeable Stalinist architectural hint. The temple dates back to 11th century and was built onto the remains of what was a Roman cult building. It's a really small temple, but provides a powerful experience for those who enter it. Definitely a thing to see while in Sofia!

The Banya Bashi Muslim mosque is placed some 200 meters away from the old Mineral baths – also a beautiful brick building in the center of Bulgaria's capital. It is one of the only buildings that have remained with a domed roof on a cubic base, a work of Mimar Sinan – a chief architect to the Ottoman Sultan. One of his other remarkable works include the Selim mosque in Edrine and the world renowned Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. It's the only fully working mosque in Bulgaria's capital. Visitors are welcome, except at times of prayer.

A cross of the Maria Louisa Str. is what it takes to end up in front of the Sofia synagogue – the largest one in the Balkans and third largest synagogue in Europe. It is a smaller version of the famous Sephardic synagogue in Vienna, which was lost to the world after being destroyed in WWII. The Sofia synagogue is built by Austrian architect Friedrich Gruenanger between 1905 -1909 and bears both Spanish-Mauritian and Byzantine style.

Take your time to visit the museum of Jewish history placed inside the building and learn more about the saving of the Bulgarian Jews during WWII.