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Religion of Bulgaria

Bulgaria - a secular state. Like all of the constitutional republics, it provides freedom for religion, as enshrined in the Constitution. Religious institutions and organizations are separate from the state. The country presents different religions and faiths. Believers consider themselves to be about 80% of the population, although only 13.6% of them regularly attend services.

The largest denomination is Christians - 85% of the total population. The main religion of the country as tradition from IX is officially the Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It is professed by 82.6% of the population of Bulgaria. 0.6% of the population (44 000 people) are Roman Catholic, and 1.12% - Protestants (Greek - Roman Catholics and Protestants). There are adherents of the Armenian Gregorian Orthodox Church, the followers of different Christian sects: Pentecostals, Methodists, Baptists, Adventists, and others.

The second place in Bulgaria by influence and the number of adherents of the religion has Islam. Almost 13% of the faithful people in the country (about 1 million) - Muslims.

In Bulgaria, there is even a small number of representatives of Judaism.

There are also Russian, Romanian and evangelical churches.

On the territory of modern Bulgaria many historical pagan religious sites are located: the ancient Thracian sanctuaries and tombs - dolmens, dating back to the II-I millennium BC, which are located near the villages of Sveshtari and Mezek, and the cities of Kazanlak and Strelcha.


Christianity came to Bulgaria in the I century. According to legend, the Amplius, the disciple of St. Paul, founded the first episcopal department in the city of Odes (today Varna). According to Eusebius of Caesarea, in the II century episcopal departments existed already in the Bulgarian cities of Debelt and Anhialo. Bishop of Sardica (now Sofia) Protogon was a member of the First Ecumenical Council in 325.

In the middle of the IX century, in the year 865, King of Bulgaria holy Prince Boris I accepted Christianity at first. He was baptized by Greek missionary. Following this event there was a mass baptism of the Bulgarian people. Smart and cautious Boris knew that Christianity would help him to unite the people of Bulgaria, to strengthen the Bulgarian state, its power and influence. In addition, by the end of the first millennium there were political, economic and social conditions for the rapid spread of Christianity. People accept orthodoxy, it becomes part of their culture and life.

In the next decade the Bulgarian Christian Church became autocephalous (independent) under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Since then Orthodoxy lost its independence several times. Since 1953, it again became autocephalous, ie it runs its own inner life, and takes 6th place in the diptych (churches list referred to in the solemn liturgies). The head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is Patriarch of Bulgaria, which together with the Synod of metropolitans represents the supreme religious authority. Bulgarian churches’ services are conducted in the Bulgarian language. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is divided into dioceses, and they, in turn, parishes which heads are priests (usually married).

Christianity played an important role in the formation of the Bulgarian nation. In the days of domination of foreigners, it helped to keep the native language and, in many respects, and culture. The first Christian churches began to build in the beginning to the end of the 1st millennium.


Catholicism - the third religion in Bulgaria in the number of followers after Christianity and Islam. It belongs to the Greek Catholic Church. The first representatives of Catholicism in the country appeared in the XIV under the reign of the Turks. They were merchants and miners from Western Europe, professing Roman Catholicism. In XVI - XVII centuries Paulicians moved into Catholicism - the descendants of one of the largest in scale and most influential medieval heretical movements, which originated in Armenia in the VII century. Because of religious persecution by the Turks in the XVIII century Paulicians were forced to flee from the territory of the former Byzantine Empire behind the Danube and settled in the Banat region. They became known as the Banat Bulgarians. And today, on the border with Serbia and Romania there live 10-15 of thousands of descendants of Paulicians (Banat Bulgarians), which is now professed Roman - Catholicism. Some of them converted to Islam (Pomaks) and lives in Greece, Turkey and Macedonia (former Yugoslavia). At the beginning of XX century during the Armenian Genocide in Turkey, Bulgaria ran Armenians, representatives of the Armenian Orthodox Church. There are Catholic churches and cathedrals in the country: in Sofia, Plovdiv and other cities.


This is the second religion in Bulgaria in the number of followers. Islam came after the conquest of the country by the Turks in the fourteenth century, and was protected almost violently, mostly among citizens. Muslims in Bulgaria are ethnically different. The largest group of Muslims are of Turkish origin - ethnic Turks, among which more than 713,000 people in the country. They live compactly in the north-east of the country and on the border with Turkey: in Shumen, Razgrad, Kardzhali, Haskovo. Islam is practiced by about 130 000 ethnic Bulgarians - Pomaks that were forcibly converted to Islam in the XV - XVII century. They live mainly in the Rhodopes. Roma are considered to be the third largest part (103 000 people), living in small groups throughout the country. Islam is practiced in Bulgaria by Tatars, Arabs, Circassians (20,000 people), trapped in Bulgaria in the XIX century, Albanians and Bosnians.

Bulgarian Muslims are mostly Sunni (0.03%). There is about 80,000 Shias in the country.

There are many mosques. In Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, there is one of the oldest in Europe, Büyük Mosque and Banya Bashi are also interesting. The largest Muslim complex, which includes a mosque, madrasah, cemetery, library and pavilion with mineral springs, "Tombul Jamia" is located in the town of Shumen. It was built in 1774. Mosques are located in Plovdiv (Imaret Juma), in Razgrad (mosques Ahmed Bey and Ibrahim Pasha), in Samokov (Bayrakli). Interestingly, some of the cult objects - Demir Baba and the ruins of the village of Obrochishte (near Varna), are both revered by Muslims, and Christians.


Jews live in Bulgaria for 2000 years. In the Middle Ages its lands settled Jews from Central Europe. It found refuge also whole communities of Jews expelled from Spain by the Catholic Kings. At the beginning of World War II, there were about 60,000 representatives of Judaism in the country. They were able to escape the fate that befell the Jews in other Nazi-Occupied countries. 90% of Bulgarian Jews emigrated to Israel when the state was created. Today, the Jewish community in Bulgaria is sparse. There are synagogues in many cities: Sofia, Plovdiv, Samokov, Ruse, Vidin and others.

The religious communities in Bulgaria officially exist and live amicably.

Language: English