St. Stephen Church View

The Iron Church: Historic St. Stephen Church Explored

Located on the banks of Golden Horn in Istanbul is a hidden treasure that combines historical, architectural and cultural features in a unique way. Bulgarian St. Stephen Church also known as ‘The Iron Church’ is an excellent place to visit if you are interested in getting deeper into Istanbul’s complex history. At this amazing site for the lovers of tourism, we are going to tell you about it and provide information on how best to go around the church.

Iron Church St. Stephen Church Inside

Iron Church St. Stephen Church Inside


St Stephan Church, called Sveti Stefani Kilise by Turks is a Bulgarian orthodox church whose design and history are quite interesting. Its construction began in 1892 and was completed in 1898. The first thing that makes St Stephen outstanding is its building material, which is cast iron for the entire church. The reason behind this choice was also revolutionary; the fear of frequent earthquakes common in Istanbul.

Designed by Armenian Architect Hovsep Aznavour and assembled from prefabricated parts made in Vienna Austria and then shipped to Istanbul where they were all put together giving an example of excellent combination between neo-Gothic and neo-Baroque architecture designs used during those times respectively (Bilgin 39). Presently, Saint Stephen’s Church stands as one of the few surviving examples of pre-fabricated iron churches globally.


Most Recommended Istanbul Tours


Iron Church-St. Stephen Church Birdeye View

Iron Church-St. Stephen Church Birdeye View

Getting There

St. Stephen’s Church is in the Balat neighborhood, which has lively streets, historical buildings and diverse cultures. To reach the church, one can board a tram to Fener station and then walk through the beautiful streets of Balat for a little distance. On the other hand, there are several taxis and ride sharing services available throughout Istanbul that may be convenient for those who would like to save on time.

What to Expect

The first thing you’ll notice once you get to St. Stephen’s Church is its astonishing exterior. The metalwork patterns intricately entwined with tall towers of the church make it awe-inspiring sight to look at. Inside, you will be received by an equally impressive interior consisting of elegant stained-glass windows, intricate chandeliers as well as lavish icons.

One of the best things about this church is its silent atmosphere that makes it even better. Despite being surrounded by a busy city, St. Stephen offers a calm environment which enables visitors to meditate or even recognize what this historic place means spiritually.

Tips for You to Visit

  • Opening Hours: The church is generally open every day, usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. Nevertheless, still make sure you know the up-to-date opening hours, usually changing at religious holidays or extraordinary events.
  • Dress Code: In common with many other places of worship, respect for St. Stephen Church in Budapest dictates that you should dress modestly when visiting it. So to say, women are greatly recommended to cover their shoulders and knees while entering the church as a sign of great respect.
  • Photography: Taking photographs is allowed inside the church but without using flash that may spoil the delicate details on its walls and ceilings.
  • Guided Tours: You may think of taking part in a guided tour going through which you will get more knowledge about St. Stephen Church’s significance and background. We operate comprehensive tours around the Balat area, including visits to various other notable landmarks.


St. Stephen Church View

St. Stephen Church View

Exploring the Neighborhoods Around

Balat is one of Istanbul’s most energetic and historically rich neighborhoods, presenting a lot to see and do after you are through with Bulgarian St. Stephen Church. Wander through the streets that have color in them and that are full of lovely cafes, boutiques, and old buildings. The Phanar Greek Orthodox College is nearby and it shouldn’t be missed with its stunning red brick architecture since it is the oldest surviving Greek Orthodox school in Istanbul.

For a more intense engagement with local culture, go to Balat antique shops where you can peruse an interesting range of antiques and vintage items. And if you’re feeling hungry, grab some traditional Turkish food at any of these local restaurants – Balat is famous for its mouthwatering authentic dishes.


Visiting St. Stephen Church is a trip back in time that gives you insight into different religious as well as cultural history of Istanbul. Whether you are steeped in history or an architecture nut or simply looking for something offbeat, this iron marvel will leave an indelible mark on your heart. Add St. Stephen Church to your itinerary when planning your journey to Istanbul – you won’t regret it.

For more information on discovering the hidden gems of this amazing city with a professional guide, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Other Topics You May Be Interested In

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.