Bosphorus Bridge is the popular name given to the two bridges that span the strait separating Europe from Asia. It is normally called the First Bosphorus Bridge, while the second one has the more official name of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. It's one of the more recognizable images of Turkey and appears in many photographs of the country, along with historic sites such as the Hagia Sophia. There is also an undersea tunnel crossing of the strait, and a third bridge has been approved. However, there is opposition to the third bridge. The First was completed in 1973, and is 3,524 feet long. The second was completed in 1988 and in 3,576 feet long. This article is about the first.
The history of the Bosphorus Bridge is long and rich, an idea that first surfaced around 500 BC, when the Persian Emperor Darius had a pontoon bridge built so he could chase fleeing Scythians. Another pontoon bridge was built across the Dardenelles, or Hellespont, (the strait to the south of the city and the Sea of Marmara) in 480 BC. This was the bridge built by the Persian Xerxes to invade the forces of Greece and Sparta—a battle immortalized in the award-winning 2006 film, 300 These historical bridges were temporary, and no other bridge was built until the First Bridge in Istanbul Turkey was built in 1973. Until that time, all transportation across the strait was done by ferries, which today still are a major transportation link and are popular for sightseeing tours and Bosphorus river cruises.
The modern history of the Bosphorus Bridge began in 1900, when the Bosphorus Railway Company drew up plans that included a rail link between the two continents. A decision to actually build the structure was not made until 1957, by which time Turkey had become an independent republic. Construction began in 1970, and the bridge was completed a day after (October 30) the 50th anniversary of independence. The British engineering firm that designed it also designed several other famous bridges, including the Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand, the Humber Bridge in England, and the Volta River Bridge in West Africa.
The First Bridge in Istanbul Turkey is located closest to the Sea of Marmara, and enters Europe not far from the Galeta Kulesi Tower, the gateway to attractions of the Old City, including Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. Since this is the route used by most tourists and the majority of business, it can be quite congested. This is the reason the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge was built. The third bridge has been proposed due to even more traffic, and is designed so that the city traffic can be completely bypassed.
The Bosphorus Bridge is the gateway to the Sea of Marmara and the north coast of Turkey. Here you will find the city of Bursa, known for its famed Turkish baths, and the province of Canakkele, gateway to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas with beautiful Greeks Islands.
Virtually all visitors to the city will cross over or sail under this picturesque bridge in Istanbul Turkey during their vacations. It is a beautiful sight during the day with the sublime minarets and domes of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in the background. At night the bridge is lit by computerized LED lights with changing patterns and colors. One of the special events in the city is the Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon held in October, one of the few times that pedestrians are allowed to cross the bridge. Many bring picnics and enjoy a day on the bridge.
Much more recent history of the Bosphorus Bridge includes the first tennis match played on two continents (2005, between Venus Williams from the United States and Ipek Senoglu of Turkey) and the round-trip crossing of the Formula One Red Bull race car driven by David Coulthard (also in 2005). He began and ended his drive in the parking lot of Dolmabahce Palace. He was fined for speeding.