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10 Day Bulgaria Jewish Heritage Tour, 2021

 

Day By Day Program Itinerary

With breathtaking and majestic Prehistoric, Thracian, Jewish, Byzantium, Roman and Slav cultures blended with European and Asian influence Bulgaria is Europe’s most ancient civilization. A country with 8000 years of history, laying across the border between Europe and Asia, Bulgaria is an enticing mix the cultures of East and West, North and South.

During our journey we trace the abundant art and cultural heritage of this Balkan country - and learn how Bulgaria saved the Bulgarian Jews in WWII. Being isolated for many years behind the Iron curtain, nowadays Bulgaria is on the move and changes are happening every day. We see the rise and fall of communism, and the challenges of united Europe. We discover a fascinating country and see how it fits into the new realities.

Day 1
Arrive Sofia Airport. Meet your local tour guide. Transfer to your hotel and check in for two nights.

Day 2
All day in Sofia
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We will visit the impressive Sephardic Synagogue, which is the third largest in Europe (next to the synagogues in Budapest and Amsterdam). The building was completed in 1912 and was designed by the Austrian architect Friedrich Gruenanger in a Spanish-Moresque and Byzantine style, while the temple resembles the Vienna synagogue, destroyed by the Nazis. One of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Sofia, the synagogue accommodates 1300 worshippers. Its central luster weighs two tons and is the largest in Bulgaria. Now the synagogue is shining in its entire splendor. The restoration project has been financed by the Bulgarian state and Israel, by private entrepreneurs and individual donations.
Adjacent to the Synagogue is a unique museum collection, telling the truly amazing story about the saving of the entire Jewish population in Bulgaria, amounting to 50,000 people, during World War II. The Bulgarian people, led by their Orthodox Church Metropolitans Kiril and Stefan, stood in the way of the Nazi machine and ultimately not a single Bulgarian Jew was deported to Nazi death camps. Anti-Semitism never had roots in Bulgaria and Jews have always been an integral part of the Bulgarian society.
Afternoon: Our walking field trip through the downtown area continues. We will see the Roman Serdica Fortifications (3rd-5th centuries) and St. George's Rotunda (4th century), famous for its original structure and unique frescoes. We visit the National Art Gallery. Housed in the former Royal Palace, the gallery treasures the most valuable collection of classical paintings and sculptures, which chronically illustrate Bulgaria's artistic achievements from the beginning of the 19th century to the 1950s.  

Day 3
Transfer Day from Sofia to Sandanski
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: En route we'll stop to see the Rila Monastery, which is the most impressive of all Bulgarian monasteries and is an original national museum with a century-old history. This renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 90 miles south of Sofia in the gorgeous natural scenery of the Rila Mountains and is considered one of the highest achievements of Bulgarian monumental architecture of the National Revival period (18th-19th centuries).
Afternoon: We continue to Sandanski, arrive and check-in at our SPA hotel for 2 nights.

Day 4
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We depart for excursion to Melnik which is a picturesque village museum, famous for its fascinating national revival houses, fantastic rock formations and excellent red wines.
Lunch: Wine tasting and lunch in local restaurant.
Afternoon: We drive back to our hotel. Sandanski is famous for the beauty of its scenery and a wealth of resources for spa and climatic treatments with its hot mineral springs (91°F-181°F). We enjoy the thermal pool and therapeutic massage, relax.

Day 5
Transfer Day from Sandanski to Plovdiv
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Depart Sandanski for Plovdiv.
En route: Visit the Sarafska House in Samokov which was the house of the Arie, a wealthy Jewish family. The founder of the family, born in Vienna, settled in 1793 in Samokov. The house is situated close to the Synagogue in the ex Jewish quarter of Samokov.
Stop at Borovets, a famous ski resort in the Rila Mountains.
Afternoon: Arrive in Plovdiv and check in at your hotel for two nights.

Day 6
All day in Plovdiv

Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning We visit the Synagogue in Plovdiv and see the monument of the grateful Jewish community of Plovdiv.

We visit the Archaeology museum in Plovdiv and see  unique mosaics from the 3rd century that adorned the floor of a synagogue in what was once Philippopolis (now Plovdiv).

At the centre of the mosaic is the seven-branched candelabrum rendered in accurate proportion. Unfortunately its lower part has been destroyed. The mosaic is made up of red, orange, green, black and white stones. On the right hand side there is a palm branch and on either side at the bottom – inscriptions in ancient Greek which unequivocally show that the donors were Jewish – Isaac and Joseph.

Afternoon: The ancient and picturesque city of Plovdiv has a history that dates back thousands of years, traces of which have survived to the present day. We will explore the 2nd century Roman forum and stadium as well as the fabulous Roman amphitheatre, which was built during the time of Emperor Trajan (98-117). Particularly nice is the Old Town, which was built in the 18th-19th centuries as the centre of the Bulgarian National Revival architecture. We’ll see some of the most characteristic historical houses in the Old Town.

Day 7
Transfer Day from Plovdiv to Veliko Tarnovo.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Picturesque drive through the famous Valley of Roses and via historical Shipka Pass in the Balkan Mountains:
En route we visit Kazanlak situated amidst the Valley of Roses that is the home of the exquisite Bulgarian rose oil, also known as “attar of roses”, a world center for rose oil production. We will visit the museum of Rose.
Visit the world-famous 4th century BC Thracian tomb at Kazanlak, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Afternoon: Arrive in Veliko Tarnovo and check-in at your hotel for two nights.

Day 8
All Day in Veliko Tarnovo.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Veliko Tarnovo was the capital city of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185 - 1396). It has been at the centre of many important historical events and was the birthplace of the first Bulgarian constitution.
We’ll visit:
-The fortress at Tsarevets Hill, where the Royal Palace and the Patriarch Church once were located
-The Museum of the National Revival, where the first Bulgarian Constitution was adopted in 1879
Afternoon: We’ll visit the village-museum of Arbanassi, famous for its traditional architecture.
We also take a walk through the narrow cobblestone street of the old Samovodene Market Place, leading into small, sunny squares.

Day 9

Transfer Day from Veliko Tarnovo to Sofia.
Breakfast at the hotel.
En route:
We’ll visit the town of Tryavna, famous for its woodworking and revival-style houses
Arrive in Sofia and check in at your hotel for overnight.

Day 10
Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure. End of program. Contact us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Tags: Bulgaria Tourism, Bulgaria Jewish Heritage Tourism, Travelling in Bulgaria, Bulgaria Travel.

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