By Ihvan Radoykov

SOFIA (AA) – Bulgaria’s prime minister met on Tuesday with a Turkish architect who restored the Bulgarian St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Istanbul, saying that the structure shines once more, according to the country’s cabinet press service.

Boyko Borissov thanked the church’s restoration team led by Fikriye Bulunmaz as well as Turkish authorities who had contributed to the restoration of the 19th century basilica.

"The St. Stephen Iron Church glistens like a jewel. I am happy that today it is a functioning Orthodox church where festive liturgies are regularly held," said Borissov.

Also known as the Church of Sveti Stefan, the structure is noted to be the world’s only surviving church made completely of iron and assembled in two years. It was opened in 1898 in Balat, the old Jewish neighborhood on the European side of the city.

"We endeavored to preserve every feature of the St. Stephen Church in the new construction," Bulunmaz said, adding that since its opening a year ago, the Church has become one of Istanbul’s major tourist attractions.

The Sveti Stefan Church in Balat was reopened after seven years of restoration with a ceremony which was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Jan. 7, 2018.