bulgarian orthodox church


The Bulgarian Iron Church of Istanbul, dedicated to St. Stephan, is one one of the most important and well-known examples of Bulgarian heritage abroad. In terms of architecture, it combines Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque elements, but is mostly notable for being made of cast iron.

All iron elements (weighing 500 tons in total) were prefabricated in Vienna, then shipped to Istanbul via the Danube and the Black Sea and assembled in the Ottoman capital in 1898. Today, it’s one of the few remaining iron churches in the world (and the only Orthodox one) and a remnant of the struggle for an independent Bulgarian church.

I got a chance to visit the Church Historical and Archival Institute of the Bulgarian Patriarchate and take a look at their great collections of Slavonic Manuscripts. These are true examples of Balkan bookbinding. Sadly most of them are in a bad state and the queue for restoration is a long one.

The two manuscripts in the picture are Psalters from 16th and 17th century.

Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, famous for being made of cast iron. An iron frame was preferred to concrete reinforcement due to the weak ground conditions. Designed in a combination of different styles by Hovsep Aznavur, an Armenian of Constantinople origin and it was manufactured in Vienna and then shipped to Constantinople, where it was inaugurated in 1898. In terms of architecture, the church combines Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque influences. Now St Stephen is one of the world’s few surviving prefabricated cast iron churches.

The Nomocanon of Saint Sava was the first Serbian constitution and the highest code in the Serbian Orthodox Church, finished in 1219. This legal act was the compilation of Civil law, based on Roman law and Canon law, based on Ecumenical Councils and its basic purpose was to organize functioning of the young Serbian kingdom and the Serbian church.

It is still used in the Russian, Bulgarian, and Serbian Orthodox Church as the highest church code.