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There has always been a significant Bulgarian community in Istanbul. St. Stephan Church, which belongs to the Bulgarian community, is perhaps Istanbul’s strangest church. During the Ottoman Era Bulgarian originally worshiped at churches connected to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy. The Bulgarians who later left the Patriarchate, got permission to form their own church.

Their first attempt was to build a small wooden church in Fener but later it was decided to build a large church. Since the ground was weak, an iron frame, being lighter, was preferred to concrete. The project was undertaken by an Armenian from Istanbul, Hovsep Aznavur. An international competition which was opened to prepare pre-fabricated parts fort he church was won by an Australian firm.

The construction lasted for one and a half years and the church opened for services in 1898. As one of the first pre-fabricated buildings to be constructed, it holds an important place in the history of architecture.

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