The “1915 Canakkale Bridge” was christened last week as the first bridge to stretch across the Dardanelles, as well as the longest suspension bridge in the world at 2,023 meters of 6,637 feet, beating Japan’s Akashi Kaikyo Bridge for the title. The new bridge connects the Turkish towns of Gelibolu, on the European side of the Dardanelles, to the town of Lapseki on the Asian side.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum were on hand to christen the bridge which was a joint venture between the two nations. The trip across the Dardanelles — a straight which connects the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara — used to take an hour and a half by ferry, with delays of up to five hours for travelers. The new bridge cuts travel time down to just six minutes and will cost Turks 200 lira, or $13.60, to cross, the Associated Press reports:
The inauguration was timed to coincide with the 107th anniversary of Turkey’s World War I naval victory over a joint British and French fleet attacking the Dardanelles. The failure of the naval campaign led to the ill-fated 1915 landings on the Gallipoli peninsula by the allies led by Britain and France along with troops from Australia and New Zealand.
“The 1915 Canakkale Bridge will leave this history of collision and conflict behind and will be a bridge between East and West, starting a new era of peace and prosperity,” South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said during the ceremony, in reference to the Canakkale region’s historic battlefields.
The bridge is full of nods to Turkey’s past, with the length of the span — 2,023 meters — being a nod to the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. The 318-meter towers reference March 18, the day the bridge was opened, but also the day Turkey commemorates those who died in Gallipoli battles. Erdogan has based his political legacy on such mega projects, CNN reports, such as new Istanbul airport and a $15 billion idea to build a canal to relieve traffic in the Bosphorus Strait, which Erdogan calls his “crazy project.”