Bulgarian clergymen visit holy places in Turkey’s Edirne
A group of Bulgarian clergymen visited churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious and cultural sites in the northwestern border province of Edirne as part of a cooperation between Bulgaria’s Razgrad and Turkey’s Edirne governorates on April 15.
The clergymen visited the Bulgarian Orthodox Sveti Constatine, Sveti Georgi and Eleni churches as well as the Selimiye mosque and the Great Edirne Synagogue.
Edirne Governor Günay Özdemir said strong neighborhood ties between Turkey and Bulgaria were established recently.
“The clergymen performed prayers in the morning at one of the churches and then visited the synagogue and the Selimiye Mosque.
They’ve witnessed how different faiths have been living here together for many years. The Balkans is a place where people of different faiths live together,” he said.
The clergymen are also set to visit the 120-year-old St. Stephen Church, a Bulgarian Orthodox church in Istanbul’s historic Balat neighborhood, which was once home to Greek and Jewish residents, on the shore of the city’s Golden Horn.
The St. Stephen Church, or the “iron church,” opened recently after seven years of restoration works, co-funded by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in association with the Bulgarian authorities.
Razgrad Governor Günay Hüsmen said they found Turkey different than what they imagined it would be.
Razgrad Pastor Georgi Georgiev, meanwhile, said he was happy to visit Edirne.
“We have seen that members of different religions can live comfortably in Edirne. It’s nice to see a person can live their religion freely. This is something that should happen everywhere; that everyone can live their religions and lifestyles freely,” he said.