Click for the picture album of the church. Kilise fotoğrafları için resime tıklayın
St. Stephen Bulgarian Church or the (Sveti Stefan Bulgar Kilisesi in Turkish), also known as the Iron Church, is located at the shores of Goldenhorn between Balat and Fener districts in Istanbul The church derives its fame from being built from prefabricated cast iron frames and steel boards attached to the body. The legend goes that when the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid granted the Bulgarian minority to split from the Greek Patriarchy and build their own church, he had one condition that the church has to be built in less than 45 days. That was not true of course but the cast iron being manufactured in Vienna and sent to Golden Horn through the Danube River and Black Sea and assembled in Istanbul must have created such a story.
In reality with the nationalistic movements of the nineteenth century the Sultan granted the Bulgarian minority to build their own church instead of praying at the Greek Patriarchy in Fener Istanbul. A Bulgarian statesman named Stefan Bogaridi donated a land strip in Balat, a wooden church was constructed here and It was inaugurated on 9 October 1849. The Ottoman royal decree of 28 February 1870, establishing the Bulgarian Exarchate was first read in the church. When the church suffered from a big fire and became unusable it was decided to build the new one from iron frames because of the weak land conditions. The plans of the Church was designed by the Ottoman Armenian architect Hovsep Aznavur and the cast iron parts weighing more than 500 tons were built in Vienna by the Austrian company R. Ph. Waagner in three years. As in the story, the cast iron parts and boards were sent through the Danube and Black Sea to the Golden Horn in Istanbul. The reality differs here from the fable : instead of the time frame of 45 days allowed by the Sultan it took one and a half years to erect and complete the church. It was inaugurated in 1898 by the Bulgarian Exarch Joseph I.
The church went through a major renovation which started in 2011 and lasted for seven years until it reopened on January of 2018 after costing over 15 million Turkish Liras.The beautiful grey neo- classic and neo- gothic influenced building with the gold colored inside ornaments, matching colors of the golden horn at sunset, is one of the few prefabricated iron frame churches in the world.