it looks like stone, the
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
of St. Stephen of the Bulgars (Sveti Stefan)
on the Golden
Horn in Balat (map),
is made of cast iron.
cast in Vienna, floated down
the Danube on 100
together here in Istanbul in
In December 2017, seven years of extensive restorations were completed. Ninety percent of the church was affected. In 2018 the church should be open to services and visits.
was the cathderal church of the Bulgarian
Exarch, a title and position
invented by the Ottoman sultan
when, in the later 1800s, the sultan's
Bulgarian subjects demanded to be
emancipated from the authority of
the Greek Orthodox Patriarch.
this time of ethnic nationalism,
the Bulgarians claimed, with justification,
that the patriarch favored Greeks
over Bulgars even though both were
The "palace" of
the Bulgarian Exarch was the building
right across the street from the
church. It's hardly palatial, especially
church is still used for services
small, dwindling community of Bulgarian
visit the church interior after restoration is complete, you must
find the caretaker, not an
easy task as there are no formal
visiting hours. Sunday morning,
when services are held, may be the
At any time you can admire the exterior of the church from a Golden Horn cruise. More...
Other Cast-Iron Churches
Tradition has it that an identical church was cast and erected in Vienna, but was destroyed by bombs in war.
In the mid- to late-19th century, cast iron was a very popular building material—witness the career and works of Gustave Eiffel. Paris has no complete cast-iron church to match Istanbul's St Stephen, but it has one church with an all cast-iron frame, the Église Saint-Eugène-Sainte Cécile, and another in which cast iron was used extensively, the great Église Saint-Augusin. (For more on Paris architecture, see ParisTravelPlanner.com.)