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SAMOKOV[Samokow, Samakov]: Sofia province PDF Print E-mail

Coat of arms of SamokovAlternate names: Samokov [Bulg], Samokow, Samakov . 42°20' N 23°33' E , 27 mi SSE of Sofiya, in a basin between the mountains Rila and Vitosha, 55 km from the capital Sofia. Samokov, together with the nearby resort Borovets, is a major tourist attraction for winter sports. In the past, Samokov was a center of handicrafts and art, with notable figures like Zahari Zograf, Hristo Dimitrov and Nikola Obrazopisov. The town  was a major iron producing centre during the Middle Ages.

Synagogue: One of the oldest surviving synagogues in Bulgaria, this Balkan architecture, two-story building has 38 windows and walls 8 meters hig with a Hebrew inscription in gilded letters over the entrance and wall paintings and carved wood paneling in the interior displaying western European artistic styles. Accounts of the synagogue's construction differ: The records of the wealthy Jewish family Arie banking family state that it was built from 1854 by artisans from Edin. Other testimony says that the synagogue was completed between 1858 and 1860 by builders of the wellknown Samokov School. Standing in the Jewish neighborhood in the "Lower Section"(Mahala) of the town, the syngagogue served as a local museum until gutted by fire in the early 1980s. Today the Sofia Jewish community owns the structure in need of urgent restoration. Some of the wall paintings were deteriorating due to exposure. Sarafska House and garden next door (at Knyaz Al.Dondukov St 11), once the elegant residence of the Arie family, was turned into a museum of the Jewish home. A larger Sephardic synagogue nearby was destroyed in 1947.

Museum photo.

Detailed information on the Synagogue; 2003-2006 plan for rehabilitation

photo and photos.. [Sep 2014]

Pictures of the Synagogue, Sarafska House and Cemetery [Sept 2014]

Jews of Samokov were not listed in the 18th century tax registers and did not pay taxes so they objected to the arrival of Jews from other countries, lest they provoke taxation. At the end of the Ottoman rule (1877), the Jews owned mines, muslin factories, and tanneries. In 1874, the Alliance Israélite opened a mixed school whose graduates later played an important role in banking and commerce. Jewish popuatioh: 1873- about 600 Jews; 1919, 1,000; 1943, 374. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews of Samokov immigrated there with most of the rest of Bulgarian Jewry.


Shipochene village, five km from Samokov . The municipal cemetery on the crest of a hill outside  town, near the village of Shipochene. The unfenced and neglected Jewish section contains 20 sandstone gravestones, most dating from the 18th century with Bulgarian and Hebrew inscriptions. The last known Jewish burial in the cemetery was in 1950. The neglected site is now used as a waste dump and surrounded by makeshift huts occupied by Roma. [Sep 2014]




Last Updated on Saturday, 06 September 2014 14:27
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