History of the building

The building of the old synagogue, constructed by the noble Yakov Jacob Gattegno, destroyed in 1789 and rebuilt again by its patron Raphael Ashkenazi in 1839] was hit by artillery fire during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), which is why, after the Liberation, the Vidin keilah made a unanimous decision to erect a new, modern building that met their needs at the time. The synagogue has survived to this day, although in poor condition. It is located in the triangle bounded by today's "Baba Vida", "Knyaz Boris I" and "Jules Pascin" streets, 150 m southwest of the medieval castle Baba Vida and its silhouette is visible from the river. It is freely situated on the plot owned by the Jewish community, which also included the Jewish school and the hazzan's residence (today destroyed). The building is oriented in the NE-SW direction along its long axis, which, intentionally or accidentally, coincides with the imaginary line between the medieval castle and the "zero kilometer" of the city.

The consecration was carried out on 28.9.1894 by the chief rabbi M. Grunwald, and on the occasion a pair of plaques with the names of the donors were placed in the narthex/ antechamber.

Due to its architecture, the Vidin Synagogue stands out as the most significant Jewish house of worship of its kind in Bulgaria of "European type", whose characteristic features are shared by several other synagogues (mainly Ashkenazic) in Northern Bulgaria (Ruse, Varna and Provadiya). In this and several other aspects, the Vidin synagogue is related architecturally and decoratively to other religious buildings of that time in the country, the region, and Central Europe, such as (the cathedral churches in Vidin and Varna, the synagogues in Sarajevo and Odrin, Budapest, etc.).

Local residents consider the Italians Ferdinand and Francesco to be the authors of the project (while the architect Hristo Ganchev points to the Austro-Hungarians Eugene Gessler and K. Machas, who designed the church "St. Dimitar" in the same city). The interior decoration and furnishings were the work of the Czech sculptor Max Werich, a teacher in the city. The foundations of the building were laid in 1890, and its above-ground part was completed in 1894. The Vidin Synagogue is the second largest after the Sofia Synagogue (completed in 1909), but when it was built it was the largest on the Balkans, with a capacity of over 1 000 seats. Three decades later, two more marble plaques with the names of Vidin Jews who died in the Balkan Wars were ceremoniously installed in the hall.