UPDATE: Bulgarian’s Jewish community has formally transferred ownership of the ruined synagogue in Vidin, on the Danube River, to the municipality, lending hope that restoration of the building and its conversion into a cultural center might begin.
The transfer — whose decision was announced in March — took place at a ceremony November 22. The Jewish community (which in Vidin numbers fewer than 20 members) could not maintain the ruins or find the resources to restore it. The formal transfer document was signed by Vidin Mayor Ognyan Tsenkov and the head of the local branch of the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, Roza Marinova.
According to the Sofia Globe, Tsenkov said at the signing ceremony “that restoration of the Synagogue should take place in the next five years, to proceed with transforming the building into a cultural venue and tourist attraction.”
Built in 1894 in a neo-Gothic style, the synagogue, which is listed as a national cultural monument, was put on the World Monuments Fund Watch list in 2004.
There have been several unsuccessful attempts — or hopes expressed — to restore it over the past few decades.
They included a plan announced by the Ministry of Culture announced in 2012 to adapt the building into a museum complex and library, to be named after Vidin-born Jewish artist Jules Pascin (1885-1930). But as we reported in 2013, restoration work stalled.
It remains to be seen if the new plan will be implemented.