Iconic tunnels and bridges linking Asia with Europe

 Tuesday, January 10, 2023 


The Bosphorus is the epitome of Istanbul, with its sloping banks lined with opulent private residences, palace parks, and centuries-old forests. This 30-kilometer (19-mile) strait connects the Sea of Marmara in the south to the Black Sea in the north. Geographical facts lead to the romantically alluring but perhaps fanciful description of Istanbul as a city that spans Europe in the west and Asia in the east. Here are some tunnels and bridges that connect Asia and Europe:

15 July Martyrs Bridge (15 Temmuz Şehitler Köprüsü)

The Bosphorus Bridge is Istanbul’s one of the most iconic bridges. The breathtaking Bosphorus strait is crossed by three suspension bridges, the oldest of which connects Asia and Europe. This 1973-built gravity-anchored steel suspension bridge connects the Ortaköy area in Europe with Üsküdar in Asia. After a failed 2016 coup, this exquisite building was renamed the 15 July Martyrs Bridge, but the locals still affectionately call it Boaziçi Köprüsü, or the First Bridge. The only means to travel between Europe and Asia in Istanbul until it opened on the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, was by ferry. Drivers can now traverse over the Bosphorus’ swiftly moving waves on the stunning new 1,560-meter (5,118-foot) steel suspension bridge and take in the magnificent view of Topkapi Palace and the Sea of Marmara in the distance.

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge

The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus Bridge, was built in Istanbul, Turkey, across the Bosphorus Strait. The new bridge is situated on the motorway between Odayeri and Pasaköy that is a crucial component of the Northern Marmara Motorway Project. The foundation stone ceremony for the bridge’s construction began on May 29, 2013, and it ended in August 2016. It was built using a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, and it produced 500 operating employment in addition to 7,000 construction jobs. The project is expected to cost $3 billion.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge

This second bridge was inaugurated on July 3, 1988, and named after Fatih Sultan Mehmet, aka Mehmet the Conqueror. It crosses the Bosphorus Strait at its narrowest point, where Persian King Darius I is credited with constructing a floating bridge in 512 B.C.E.

The current traffic deck joins Kavack in the east and Hsarüstü in the west, hanging about 200 feet over the ocean. The breathtaking views it provides is, unfortunately, inaccessible to pedestrians. A delightful diversion for motorists stuck in weekend midnight traffic jams, only drivers get to admire them.

Çannakale 1915 Bridge

Çannakale 1915 Bridge is crowned with the world record for the longest suspension bridge span. On March 18, 2022, the newest bridge was inaugurated in remembrance of the day in 1915 when Turkey defeated the Allies in a conflict to seize control of this crucial waterway. It measures little under 2.3 miles from Gelibolu on the European side of the Dardanelles to Lapseki on the Asian side. The towering structure crosses the Straits in place of the hour-long ferry ride, which in actuality can take up to five hours due to waiting times. Instead, it takes six minutes to drive at the 50 mph speed limit. Built for speed, it has a toll of around US$ 11 per car.

Eurasia Tunnel

For engineering enthusiasts, the 5.3 km (3.3 mi) underwater section of the Eurasia Tunnel (Avrasya Tüneli in Turkish) is a major draw, but the tunnel’s greatest appeal is that it is the fastest way from one side of Istanbul to the other. With a 70 kph speed limit, it is more practical than attractive. When it was finished in December 2016, a lengthier, nine-mile road link that connected the European city of Kazlçeşme with the Asian city of Göztepe took just 15 minutes instead of the usual 100. Up until commercial flights were moved from Atatürk Airport to the enormous Istanbul Airport, the $2.85 per car tunnel served as the most feasible connection between the city’s two airports, Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen.

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