Turkish architect Fikriye Bulunmaz, who led the restoration of historic Bulgarian Iron Church in Istanbul, was awarded with a prestigious prize in Bulgaria yesterday.
Bulunmaz, who worked for seven years on the project that restored the church to its former glory, received "Worthy Bulgarian" prize distributed by 24 Chasa newspaper. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, who opened the restored church with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in January, was among those who attended the award ceremony.
The architect received her award from Vezhdi Rashidov, head of Bulgarian parliament's culture committee. Rashidov said Bulunmaz worked for 15 hours every day in the restoration project, adding that "a church which was about to collapse is now restored to its former splendor, as a cultural and historic monument, with the assistance of state of Turkey."
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on the sidelines of the event, Bulunmaz detailed her work on the church and said the award was also meant for Istanbul municipality that aided in the restoration and all her colleagues. "We made the church stand for at least for another 150 years with the restoration," she said.
An outstanding symbol of Bulgarian Orthodox Christianity, the church, originally known as Sveti Stefan, was built in 1898 on the site of a wooden church destroyed in a fire. It is branded as the only church mainly made of iron in the world, but it fell into a state of disrepair in recent years. Restoration of the church located in Istanbul's Balat district started seven years ago in a project co-funded by Turkey and Bulgaria.
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