Saturday, June 11, 2011

Innovative Bulgarians

In the 19th century, the Bulgarian minority of Istanbul obtained permission to establish their own orthodox church and property on the Golden Horn was donated for that purpose.  The original structure was wooden and in 1898 a new building was completed - in cast iron!  This material was used as a preferred building material, due to the ground conditions (my guess is soggy ground).  The church is called the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church or the Bulgarian Iron Church.

The bid to make the church was won by the Vienna company R Ph Waagner, who produced over 500 tons of prefabricated parts in Vienna from 1893 to 1896.  The parts were transported by ship through the Danube, Black Sea and Bosphorus to get to the Golden Horn.  Another year and a half was needed to bolt, rivet and weld the church together. 

The lower portion of the building is painted a pale battleship gray with visible rust marks, where some additional sanding and painting is needed.

Considering the material used, there is quite of bit of decorative work on the building.

The interior of the church is also made of cast iron.

St. Stephen's is one of the few remaining pre-fabricated iron churches in the world.  For more information of the history of the Bulgarian community and church, the website is   And, yes, the church is surrounded by a cast iron fence!

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