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Europe and Asia United at Last

Turkey finally realizes the dream of connecting the two continents underneath the Bosphorus.

October 27, 2013

The Bosphorus. (Credit: NASA - Wikimedia)

1. On October 29th, 2013, the world’s first sea tunnel linking two continents will be inaugurated in Istanbul, Turkey.

2. The date falls on the 90th anniversary of the founding of Turkey’s Republic under Ataturk.

3. The construction of a submerged tunnel under the Bosphorus Straits connecting Asia to Europe has long been envisioned as a very practical project.

4. It was first envisaged by Abdul Mejid I, the Ottomans’ 31st sultan. Reigning between 1839 and 1861, the determinedly Western-leaning sultan supposedly came up with the idea in a dream.

5. A French architect soon after came up with a blueprint. However, big technological challenges and lack of cash to fund the project stood in the way.

6. Now, 150 years later, Sultan Abdul Mejid’s dream is coming true.

7. The scheme was initiated in 2004 by Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his Justice and Development (AK) party’s first term in power.

8. The tunnel is part of the broader “Marmaray” rail link project, stretching over 76km (47 miles) across the metro area, which has cost $3 billion so far. 1.4km of it rests at the bottom of the sea in the new tunnel.

9. That system is said to “eventually link London to Beijing, creating unimagined global connections.”

10. The Marmaray tunnel will serve only rail traffic. The Avrasya Tunnel, also under construction in a different location, will serve automobile traffic.

From The Sultan’s Dream (The Economist) and from Rail Turkey.



More on this topic


90 years after Ataturk established Turkey as a Republic, a tunnel will link the two halves of Istanbul.

The idea of a tunnel under the Bosphorus supposedly dates to a dream by a mid-19th century Western sultan.

Bosphorus tunnel construction began in 2004, in the bright first term of now-polarizing Turkish PM Erdogan.

1.4km of the new Bosphorus tunnel rests on the seabed. The rail link across the metro area spans 76km.