The Church of Sveti Stefan (St. Stephen), known also as the Iron Church in Balat, was solemnly reopened with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday after 7 years of restoration work. Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Erdoğan said “I consider this opening as a very important message which is given to the international community in such a period.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov attended the ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony, President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov gave important messages about the relations between Turkey and the European Union.
As a result of the restoration work which took place thanks to the contribution of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, 90 percent of the Iron Church construction has been overhauled since 2011. Within the scope of the works, reinforcement system, facade, interior restoration and landscaping of the Iron Church were carried out. The Iron Church, which is of a great historical importance for the Bulgarian Orthodox people, is completely in iron and it is the only remaining iron church. It was closed for restoration work 9 years ago.
Bulgarian Exarchate of the Orthodox Church Foundation Chairman Vasile Liaze stated that 3-iron churches were built in the world which are in Argentina, in Austria and in Turkey. Liaze also said that the churches in Argentina and Austria had disappeared and that the only remaining iron church is the one in Balat. ’The church weight is 500 tons. It was brought here with little ships. The church was mounted on the sea with screws. There’s a tree in Brazil, which lives in the water. The church was mounted on these trees and it was consecrated in 1898. Since there was a mud, it also slipped towards the sea. We reinforced around the building with concrete. The work started 14 years ago and 330 concrete piles were put around it, so the church will not slip again towards the see” Liaze added.
Liaze also reported that before the church closed, monthly 3 thousand people were visiting it. After the reopening, the number of visitors would not be less than 5 thousand.