Construction has begun on the third bridge over the Bosphorous in Istanbul. It is set to be one of the longest and widest road and rail bridges in the world.
The aim is to ease congestion in the ever expanding city of 14 million but environmentalists have cited concerns over damage to the ecosystem.
Rejecting these claims, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayipp Erdogan feels the three billion dollar project embodies the emergence of his country as a major power.
“On the 560th anniversary of the conquering of Istanbul together we are writing a new chapter in history and start the construction of a giant project,” declared Erdogan.
An Ottoman military band played, while those gathered prayed before the launch of construction on the new eight-lane bridge, named after Yavuz Sultan Selim.
But the news is not being celebrated by everyone.
“This region is the heart of Istanbul in terms of forest area. If wind blows from here to Istanbul the air of the city is quite different. Absolutely they are cutting trees. But I hope they plant new ones,” said one local attending the ceremony.
Setting an ambitious target, Erdogan announced that they aim to hold the official opening ceremony on the same date in three years time.
Euronews corespondent Bora Bayraktar reporting from Istanbul said: “The ceremony marked the beginning of the construction of the bridge which will be the third point of passage from Europe to Asia.”