The historic Iron Church in Istanbul has finally been unveiled in a ceremony attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov following a seven-year restoration project.
On Sunday, Jan. 7, Erdogan and Borisov unveiled the 120-year-old Sveti Stefan Church, which underwent a major restoration starting 2011 that cost $3.5 million. The historic Bulgarian church, was shaped like a cross and was the only house of worship built on an iron skeleton, the Voice of America detailed.
Erdogan hailed the Iron Church for its contribution to Istanbul's "beauty and wealth." The Turkish president also described the church as an example of the country's efforts to recondition churches, chapels, and synagogues.
Borisov, on the other hand, vowed to help improve the ties between Turkey and the European Union as Bulgaria takes on the task of being the new EU president.
The number of devoted Christian and Jewish followers in Turkey has been on a decline in the last few years, but the country has continued its project to revive and restore ancient churches and synagogues. In fact, The Daily Sabah reported that the Directorate-General of Foundations has been gaining momentum on its conservation and restoration projects across the country.
Among the directorate's finished restoration projects are that of the Great Synagogue in Edirne, the Aya Nikola Church on the island of Gökçeada, the Armenian Protestant Church in Diyarbakir, the Assyriac Catholic Church in Iskenderun, the Fevkani Churchi n Gaziantep, the Aya Yorgi and Sveti Stefan churches in Istanbul, and the Taksiyarhis Church on Cunda island.
In the last 20 years, the Directorate-General of Foundations has finished 14 Christian and Jewish places of worship. It is already working on restoration projects for the Turisina Monastery in Istanbul, a chapel on Gökçeada, an Armenian church in Hatay province, and a synagogue in Kilis.