Istanbul’s iron church re-opens after 7-year renovation

The Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen in Istanbul, which was built by prefabricated cast iron in 1898, has been re-opened after a seven-year renovation.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov took part in the opening ceremony on Sunday, alongside Muslim and Orthodox Christian clerics.

Erdoğan was quoted by the German public broadcaster DW as saying that the re-opening of the church shows that Istanbul is a home to many cultures and religions, coexisting peacefully.

The Turkish government is continuing its efforts to renovate places of worship that belong to non-Muslim communities in Turkey, Erdoğan said. The Great Synagogue in the western province of Edirne and the Syriac Catholic Church in the southern province of Iskenderun are among the 14 renovation projects, he said.

Borisov stated that his government, which will assume the annual presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018, will do "everything it can" to regenerate relations between Turkey and the European Union.

“Trade, businesses and security between the two parties needs to enter a period of renovation. I believe it is the best way out, and we will contribute to that,” Borisov was quoted by DW as saying.