Polished Memories, Liquid Histories: A Meditation on Istanbul's Sveti Stefan Church
- Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 8, Number 1, Summer 2021
- pp. 69-90
- Additional Information
On an embankment in the Istanbul neighborhood Fener-Balat, a striking edifice looms over the waters of the Golden Horn: Sveti Stefan Church, a cast-iron house of worship that constitutes the most visible legacy of Ottoman Istanbul's Bulgarian Orthodox community. The warm welcome that one is likely to receive at the visitor's cubicle near the entrance to the church contrasts sharply with its solemn architectural atmosphere. Since the completion of renovations in 2018, the so-called Iron Church is open to visitors as a site that celebrates a multicultural image of the Ottoman past. In this essay, I meditate on the convoluted history of Sveti Stefan and its community in order to unsettle the sanitized collective memory and discourse of interreligious tolerance that has come to rest in the church today.