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The tunnels and bridges linking Asia to Europe



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Istanbul (CNN) — With sloping banks studded with elegant personal mansions, palace parks and centuries-old groves, the Bosphorus is the embodiment of Istanbul.

This 19-mile (30-kilometer) strait runs from the Black Sea within the north to the Sea of Marmara within the south.

The city sprawl covers Europe within the west and Asia to the east, geographical info giving rise to the romantically evocative however considerably fanciful description of Istanbul as a metropolis that straddles two continents.

Technically it does, however the Bosphorus is not the town’s solely waterway. Simply earlier than it meets the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn — recognized domestically as Haliç — branches off northwest. It will definitely peters out inland not like the Sea of Marmara, which ends up in the Aegean Sea by way of the slender Dardanelles Strait.

Day and evening, tankers and container ships are seen alongside the horizon close to the Princess Islands, patiently ready their flip to move alongside the delivery route.

Richard Quest rediscovers the essence and vitality of an iconic Turkish metropolis that engages all of the senses whereas providing up locations of quiet magnificence.

Equally, Istanbul residents wait too, in vehicles, on buses, trains and ferries. Based on 2021 figures, simply shy of 16 million folks reside in Istanbul. Many reside on one facet of the town and work on the opposite, that means at anybody time a big swathe of the inhabitants is on the transfer.

Navigating the town’s tangled highway map could be chaotic at any time of day and generally it feels prefer it’s a surprise that anybody will get anyplace, however they do — making use of highway, rail, ship, bridge and tunnel to cross from one continent to a different.

This is the way it’s finished:

15 July Martyrs Bridge (15 Temmuz Şehitler Köprüsü)

15th July Martyrs Bridge was the first to span the Bosphorus.

fifteenth July Martyrs Bridge was the primary to span the Bosphorus.

Photosensia/iStockphoto/Getty Pictures

Initially often called Boğaziçi Köprüsü — or Bosphorous Bridge — this elegant construction was renamed the 15 July Martyrs Bridge after a failed 2016 coup, however locals nonetheless fondly seek advice from it as Boğaziçi Köprüsü, or the First Bridge.

Earlier than it opened on October 29, 1973, the fiftieth anniversary of the Turkish Republic, the one method to cross from Europe to Asia was by ferry.

The elegant new 1,560-meter (5,118 ft) metal suspension bridge allowed drivers to move excessive above the swiftly operating waters of the Bosphorus and revel in sweeping views throughout to Topkapi Palace and out to the Sea of Marmara within the distance.

In its early days, the bridge attracted walkers who needed a vantage level to admire the stately white brilliance of the nineteenth century Büyük Mecediye Mosque down on the water’s edge in Ortaköy.

As of late the bridge is just open to pedestrians someday a 12 months when 1000’s signal as much as run the Istanbul Marathon. The remainder of the time drivers pay lower than 50 cents to cross.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge

The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge offers spectacular views over the Bosphorus.

The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge affords spectacular views over the Bosphorus.

mehmet/Adobe Inventory

The second bridge linking each continents opened on July 3, 1988 and was named for Fatih Sultan Mehmet, aka Mehmet the Conqueror. He is the man who rode into city in 1453 and established Ottoman rule in Constantinople, then capital of the Byzantine Empire.

Typically referred to as FSM Köprüsü, it is one other gravity-anchored metal suspension bridge comparable in size to the First Bridge and costing an analogous toll charge to make use of.

It spans the narrowest level of the Bosphorus strait, the place Persian King Darius I used to be mentioned to have constructed a floating bridge in 512 B.C.E.

The visitors deck of the trendy incarnation hangs round 200 ft above the water and connects Hısarüstü within the west to Kavacık within the east.

It gives spectacular views over the Bosphorus however no pedestrian entry is allowed so solely drivers get to understand them, a welcome distraction when caught in weekend midnight visitors jams.

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge

The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge opened in 2016.

The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge opened in 2016.

irina lepnyova/Adobe Inventory

In 2016, a 3rd suspension bridge opened up throughout the Bosphorus, close to the Black Sea. This one is known as for Yavuz Sultan Selim, grandson of Mehmet the Conqueror and an apt alternative given his curiosity in transport. The Sixteenth-century sultan rebuilt the Ottoman fleet and Haliç Tershanesi, the Golden Horn shipyards.

On completion, the bridge broke quite a few information. With a 58.8-meter-wide single deck slab, it’s the world’s widest suspension bridge, in a position to carry eight lanes of visitors and a double-track railway line. It is also the world’s fifth tallest bridge, rising over 322 meters.

The bridge, designed to be used by vans and long-distance visitors heading to central Anatolia and past, affords drivers a view for miles out to the Black Sea on clear days and levies a primary automotive toll of round $1.

Çannakale 1915 Bridge

The 1915 Canakkale Bridge has the world's longest suspension bridge span.

The 1915 Canakkale Bridge has the world’s longest suspension bridge span.

Burak Akay/Anadolu Company/Getty Pictures

The most recent path to span the 2 continents is the spectacular Çannakale 1915 Köprüsü, stretching between Gelibolu on the European facet of the Dardanelles to Lapseki over in Asia.

Measuring simply in need of 2.3 miles, it now claims the world file for the longest suspension bridge span.

The construction soars throughout the Straits and replaces a one-hour ferry crossing (that in actuality can take as much as 5 hours with ready time) with a six-minute drive on the 50 miles per hour restrict.

Designed for pace slightly than views, it is much less well-liked with locals as a result of a toll of almost US$11 per automotive.

The bridge opened on March 18, 2022, commemorating the day in 1915 that Turkey was victorious over the Allies in a battle to take management of this very important waterway.

Eurasia Tunnel

The Eurasia Tunnel is one of the fastest ways across the Bosphorus.

The Eurasia Tunnel is among the quickest methods throughout the Bosphorus.

OZAN KOSE/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

The 5.3-kilometer (3.3 mile) underwater part of the Eurasia Tunnel (Avrasya Tüneli in Turkish) is an enormous drawcard for followers of engineering, however the tunnel’s primary enchantment is being the quickest method to get from one facet of Istanbul to the opposite.

It is purposeful slightly than stunning, with a pace restrict of 70 kilometers per hour. A part of an extended nine-mile highway hyperlink connecting Kazlıçeşme in Europe to Göztepe in Asia, on completion in December 2016 it lowered journey time from 100 minutes to only 15.

The tunnel, which has a charge of about $2.85 per automotive, additionally grew to become essentially the most sensible hyperlink between the town’s two airports, Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen till industrial flights have been relocated from Atatürk Airport to the mammoth Istanbul Airport, greater than 27 miles northwest of central Istanbul’s Taksim Sq..

With a charge of about $2.85 per automotive, the Eurasia Tunnel is the most costly method to cross the Bosphorus.

As with the bridge crossings, toll funds are collected by way of the Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi. Referred to as HGS for brief, this method makes use of particular windscreen stickers which can be robotically scanned when automobiles move by means of toll gates.

It is vital to have sufficient credit score in your account to cowl expenses, particularly should you’re planning to drive throughout a border. Unpaid fines imply don’t move go! Don’t fret although. There is a helpful app you may obtain to trace credit score and utilization.


Construction began on the Marmaray tunnel in 2013.

Building started on the Marmaray tunnel in 2013.

OZAN KOSE/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

This underground, intercontinental prepare service was a very long time coming. In 1860, Sultan Abdülmecid I got here up with the concept for an undersea crossing within the strait, however died earlier than he might do something about it.

One other sultan, Abdul Hamid II, was when French engineers proposed it to him in 1892, however there was no progress.

Greater than 100 years later curiosity resurfaced and development on the 13.6 kilometer tunnel began in 2004.

Regardless of the very best of intentions, the rail service did not open till October 29, 2013. Deadlines have been pushed again when nearly each meter dug revealed archaeological finds, some relationship again 8,000 years.

It was one other six years earlier than all of the stations alongside the road have been prepared to be used.

The tunnel connects Kazlıçeşme on the European facet to Ayrılık Çeşmesi on the Asian facet, descending as much as 200 ft beneath sea stage at its lowest level, making it the world’s deepest immersed tunnel.

All that vacationers want to be able to take the Marmaray is an Istanbul Card (Istanbul Kart). Out there in any respect main public transport hubs and small kiosks all through the town, it permits the bearer to hop on and off all modes of public transport at will.


Ferries are perhaps the most atmospheric way to cross the Bosphorus.

Ferries are maybe essentially the most atmospheric method to cross the Bosphorus.

Ryzhkov Aleksandr/Adobe Inventory

They don’t seem to be the quickest method to journey between the continents, however there are few journey experiences higher than being on a ferry crossing over the Bosphorus.

Ft up on the railing and the wind in your hair, watch the minareted skyline of Istanbul slide by whereas taking a sip of piping sizzling Turkish tea and a chunk of simit, a sesame seed lined ring of sourdough.

Pure heaven.

The Şehir Hatlar Vapuları (Metropolis Traces’ Ferries) have been established in 1844 through the Ottoman Empire. In addition to crisscrossing and operating the size of the Bosphorus, their ferries sail the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn and over to the Princes’ Islands.

In addition they carry vehicles and passengers on the quick journey between Sirkeci and Harem, and on longer journeys to Bursa, Yalova and Mudanya.

Ferries are the epitome of ambiance and elegance relating to public transport in Istanbul, not like the buses.

Certain, buses go completely in every single place, together with one route that covers 63 miles over 78 stops, however they’re usually uncomfortably crowded and continuously caught in visitors.

But they’ve one factor in frequent with the ferries — neither of them proceed by means of the evening. For those who’re in search of a quick, economical method to get from one facet of the Bosphorus to the opposite within the wee hours, late evening minibuses are the best way to go.

Late evening shared minibuses

Shared minibuses in Istanbul are a detailed cousin of the dolmuş, small privately run buses which journey set routes like regular buses, however choose up and set down passengers as requested.

Each function on a money foundation. Dolmuş take their identify from the phrase that means stuffed in Turkish. What number of passengers they carry is determined by the variety of our bodies they will squeeze in (so much, in case you are questioning) whereas yellow minibuses solely take as many individuals as there are seats.

After an evening out on the European facet of city, partygoers head to the minibus cease in Taksim Sq.. A lot of the drivers appear to have Components One aspirations, in order quickly as they’re full it is often pedal to the metallic making for a fast journey residence.