Tracing the Religious Tolerance in the Capital of Bulgaria
Sofia is a city of religious tolerance where many religions and denominations coexist. Every day Christians (Orthodox and Catholics), Muslims and Jews meet and practice their faith - openly, without fear and hatred. One of the greatest proofs of this is the so-called "Quadrangle of Religious Tolerance" located in the heart of present-day Sofia where there are designated places for prayer for people of these religions located meters away from one another. You can also visit the temples regardless of your religious affiliation.
1. The Saint Nedelya Church
1. The Saint Nedelya Church – an Orthodox Christian temple rises in the center of the square of the same name located in the very heart of the capital. It is dedicated to Saint Kyriaki the Great Martyr. It is a temple that connects Bulgaria and Serbia as it keeps the relics of Stefan Uroš II Milutin.
2. The Church of St Petka of the Saddlers
2. The Church of St Petka of the Saddlers - an Orthodox temple, is a one-nave medieval building partially dug into the ground and is located in the center of the square of religious tolerance. It is dedicated to Saint Paraskeva of the Balkans who is a model of benevolence as she dedicated her life to taking care of and loving the others. The temple was built in the 11th century on an ancient cult site and the oldest preserved frescoes date back to the 14th century.
3. The Banya Bashi Mosque
3. The Banya Bashi Mosque is the only active Muslim temple on the territory of Sofia today. It was built in 1566-1567 by the most prominent architect in the history of the Ottoman Empire - Mimar Sinan, who was of Bulgarian descent. It was built with donations by Mulla Seyfulah – a rich judge, in memory of his deceased wife.
4. The Sofia Synagogue
The Sofia Synagogue is the symbol of Bulgarian Jewry. It was built in the period 1905-1909 and is the largest synagogue on the Balkans and the third-largest in Europe. In addition to the unique Sephardic architecture and the massive brass chandelier weighing 2200 kilos, in the temple you can also see the Jewish Historical Museum. Note: To enter the Synagogue you must ring the bell at the entrance on Ekzarh Joseph Street.
5. The Cathedral of St Joseph
5. The Cathedral of St Joseph is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Sofia. It is dedicated to St Joseph - the husband of Virgin Mary. The largest Catholic temple in Bulgaria welcomes you with the statues of Pope John XXIII and of St Joseph with the Infant Jesus, and the statue of Virgin Mary in the narthex. Inside, over the altar you will find some of the largest wooden crosses on the territory of Bulgaria. The statues of the patron saint of the Cathedral - St Joseph, and of St. Francis of Assisi – founder of the Order of Friars Minor, are on both sides of the presbytery. On the same street – Knyaz Boris I Street, you can also see the Romanian Orthodox Church of Holy Trinity, and on the other side - on Todor Alexandrov Blvd - St Mary Armenian Apostolic church.