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St. Stephen of the Bulgars in Istanbul, a church completely of iron

on 12/06/2012

Amazing Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars is in the district of Fener, situated on the Golden Horn in Istanbul.
In 1849, the Bulgarian Orthodox community of Istanbul, attached to the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, demanded independence and the right to create its own church from the authorities.
Prince Stephan Bogoridi, a senior official of Bulgarian origin settled in Istanbul, offers his property to his countrymen on the banks of the Golden Horn. The first floor of the wooden house is transformed into a chapel inaugurated in 1849 and became a small church.
In 1850, the two adjoining stone houses were demolished and the materials reused to construct a schedule using first convent and then head to the Bulgarian Exarchate held until 1912.
Creating an independent Bulgarian church being denied, relations with the Greek Patriarchate in Fener deteriorate. After years of struggle, this wish finally sees the daylight in February 1870 in the form of Exarchate headed by an assembly of bishops.
The Sultan finally authorized in 1890 to replace the wooden church by another.
Hovsep Aznavur, Armenian architect in Istanbul and an Austrian company will build a very particular building. This one is all metal, both outside and inside. The prefabricated parts are shipped by sea via the Danube and the Black Sea and then assembled and mounted in Istanbul.
On September 8, 1898, after a year and a half of work, the Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars was inaugurated, in homage to the patron of Bulgaria.
Neo-classical and neo-baroque, it consists of a profiled steel sheet covered with iron and held by welds, bolts and rivets. It weighs a mere 500 tons for 32 meters long, 12.50 meters wide and 40 meters high.
The iconostasis is a work of Muscovite society Nikolai Ahapkin and icons of a Russian artist, Klavdyi Lebedev. The six bells, meanwhile, were cast in Russia. In the yard of the church there are several tombs of religious activists and Bulgarian metropolitans.
In 2005, a jury of experts has rated Saint-Etienne Bulgarians among the ten most beautiful churches in Turkey.


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