The Bosphorus Strait is a stretch of water that has always marked the dividing line between Asia and Europe. Today, Turkey opens an undersea tunnel joining the two continents for the first time.
Construction on the Marmary Tunnel began in 2004, but was delayed by archaeological excavations. Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been an ardent supporter from day one, despite criticism that it is one of his ‘vanity projects’.
The tunnel’s entire length is 13.6 km, with the subsea section itself running for 1.4 km at a depth of around 55 metres. The mammoth engineering feat was part-financed by the Japanese, who invested around a quarter of the three point three billion euro cost. It was built to withstand earthquakes and is capable of carrying 1.5 million passengers per day.
The project coincides with Turkey’s National Day, marking ninety years of the foundation of the republic by Attaturk. It’s the realisation of a dream dating back around one hundred and fifty years.
The new tunnel provides a non-stop railway route all the way from China to Western Europe’s markets. It’s hoped that new trade routes will be opened to form a modern-day Silk Road.