The famous Bosphorus bridges of Istanbul are nothing short of exceptional engineering talent. Istanbul captivates everyone with incredible sights and experiences and impressive bridges. Spanning waters of the iconic Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul's bridges symbolise a majestic city. From the 15th-century Galata Bridge to Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Istanbul's iconic bridges and their timeless stories are worth knowing about.
As the sun rises over bustling Istanbul, the bridges illuminate the beauty and massive power that this city holds, not just in Turkey but in the world. Spanning the Bosporus strait, Istanbul's bridges combine artistic beauty and extraordinary structural strength, to link the two continents of Europe and Asia. Istanbul's 15 bridges of varying sizes and styles portray the city's illustrious past to current times and offer great insight into the city.
About Istanbul's Most Famous Bridges
Before we talk about the bridges, it is worth knowing about the 20-mile-long Bosphorus strait that holds the bridges. This waterway connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea and separates European and Asian Istanbul, effectively forming two continents. The Bosphorus varies in width from 2,300 feet to 1.9 miles and is vital for commercial and naval vessels.
The strait also attracts tourists, with landmarks like the Maiden's Tower and is a highly desirable place to live in Istanbul, thanks to its waterfront status. Byzantium was built on the Bosphorus shores, which has seen many empires and civilisations fighting to rule it. The strategic importance means the Bosphorus Strait is subject to international regulations that govern ships, including the size and type of vessels that can sail through at any time.
1: Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in Istanbul
Among many architectural marvels in Istanbul, the majestic Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, also called FSM Bosphorus Bridge and the second Bosphorus Bridge, stands tall and proud. When constructed, the bridge's span was the world's fifth-longest suspension. Constructed in 1988 and opened in 1989, replacing the Bosphorus Bridge, which couldn't handle massive car traffic, the bridge is named after Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Constantinople in 1453.
The 1,510-metre-long and 39-metre-wide bridge is one of the world's most expansive and longest suspension bridges ever. The two towers, 65 metres above sea level, support the weight and cables. High-strength steel cables are anchored to towers on both Bosphorus shores. The third deck, made of steel, features eight lanes for vehicles, two on each side for pedestrians and two for bicycles. The bridge carries the European route E80, the Otoyol 2 highway, and the Asian highways number 1 and 5.
FSM Bridge has undergone several maintenance and repair works. These works include replacing asphalt surfaces, repairing cables, and strengthening supporting structures. With its impressive design, sturdy construction, and strategic location, the FSM Bridge will remain an essential part of Istanbul's infrastructure for years. Districts connecting the bridge are….
- European Hisarustu: While this neighbourhood name might not be well known, people will recognise the larger area, Rumelihisari, with the fortress of the same name. The Ottomans built the defence to capture Constantinople. The neighbourhood sits within the Sariyer district, covering the Bosphorus northern exit into the Black Sea.
- Asian Kavacik: Sitting within the Beykoz district, many people head here at weekends on ferry rides to enjoy quaint seaside fish restaurants. The coastline, luxury villas are Istanbul's most expensive real estate, with many business people and celebrities buying homes.
2: Yavuz Sultan Selim Bosphorus Bridge
Initially called the third Bosphorus bridge, Istanbul excelled when constructing Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. This project was a masterpiece because it is one of the world's tallest and broadest bridges. Named after the 16th-century Ottoman Sultan Selim I and proposed by in 2010, construction finished in 2016. The 2,164 metres long and 59-metre-wide Bosphorus bridge consists of four motorway lines and a railway track in each direction. The main span of 1,408 metres long, makes it the longest suspension bridge. The 322 metres high towers are the tallest in Turkey.
Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge improved Turkey's economy and transportation system by reducing travel time between the two continents from two hours to 15 minutes, easing traffic congestion and boosting trade and commerce. In addition, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge's impressive design earned various awards and made it popular with tourists and locals. Districts the bridge sits in include
- European Garipce: Also sitting within the Sariyer district, this is another fishing community attracting ferry day trippers with delightful fish restaurants. Few tourists stay there because of the lack of hotels, but there are excellent and frequent bus routes into Taksim, a shopping and nightlife hub.
- Asian Poyrazkoy: Also belonging to Beykoz, this small community mainly stays off the grid, apart from references to the bridge.
3: July 15 Martyrs Bridge
The July 15 Martyr's gravity-anchored Suspension Bridge, the first bridge formerly called the Bosphorus Bridge, opened on October 30, 1973, by the then-Turkish Prime Minister, Naim Talu. Designed by British engineering firm Freeman Fox & Partners and constructed by Turkish firm Enka Construction & Industry Co, the 1.5-kilometres and 64 metres wide bridge features two 165-metre towers.
On July 15, 2016, coup plotters closed the Bosphorus bridge in both directions and used the northern end for military vehicles. However, Istanbul locals marched across the bridge to support the democratically elected government. After the coup was ultimately defeated, the bridge reopened as the July 15 Martyrs Bridge. Connecting districts include…
- European Ortakoy: Sitting in Istanbul's heart within the Besiktas district, Ortakoy is famous thanks to travel pictures of Ortakoy mosque with the July 15 bridge in the background. Many tourists head there for vibrant nightlife scenes. Although there aren't any trams or metro stations, there are good connecting bus routes.
- Asian Beylerbeyi: This neighbourhood belongs to the Uskudar district and is a major ferry port. For working commuters, Uskudar is a highly desirable place to buy a property and live, thanks to excellent bridge and ferry connections.
4: Galata Bridge on the Golden Horn
So, they are the three main Bosphorus bridges. Still, Istanbul's other famous bridges span the Golden Horn, a natural harbour sitting off the Bosphorus. The most iconic Golden Horn bridge is Galata. This bridge connects new and old European Istanbul. Galata Bridge dates from the Byzantine era but the first 6th century AD bridge was made of wood and rebuilt several times due to fires, storms, and other damages.
The 490 metres long bridge is famous for fishing, strolling, and enjoying views, but also boasts historical significance and great charm. Fishermen line the bridge, and several restaurants on the lower levels serve delicious seafood and Turkish cuisine. Do visit at sunset, when the sky turns into beautiful shades of orange and red. Districts the bridge sits in include…
- Eminonu: Belonging to the official Fatih district, which holds the historical and UNESCO landmarks of Ottoman and Byzantine Constantinople, Eminonu is also home to the Spice and Grand Bazaars and the famous New Mosque. Eminonu ferry port hosts thousands of passengers daily, with many departures to cruise along Bosphorus shorelines.
- Karakoy: This neighbourhood in previous years was called old Galata. Home to famous landmarks like Galata tower, many tourists cross Galata bridge from Eminonu to reach the tower. Karakoy's history as a Greek, Armenian and Jewish neighbourhood is also fascinating. Karakoy is a highly desirable place to buy property in Istanbul thanks to its timeless architecture, and it officially belongs to the Beyoglu district.
5: Golden Horn Metro Bridge
The cable-stayed Golden Horn Metro Bridge was designed by French engineering firm Systra in collaboration with Turkish firms Prota Engineering and Yuksel Project. The 936-metre bridge spans 460 metres, making it one of the world's longest cable bridges. The upper deck carries the M2 metro line system connecting European suburbs. While lower decks feature two-lane roads for cars and pedestrians.
The 65-metre-high pylons resemble ship sails, reflecting Istanbul's maritime history. Before construction, commuters took ferries or drove around the Golden Horn to get to the other side. Now, they take the metro, cutting their travel time significantly. Connecting districts are Karakoy, as mentioned above, and Kucuk Pazar, in the above-mentioned Fatih district. Two other bridges stretching across the Golden Horn are Ataturk and Halic bridges.
How Do Istanbul's Bridges Affect the Real Estate Market?
Naturally, given the Bosphorus is one of the world's most important straits of water, this already makes all shoreline districts prime real estate. However, twin this fact with the three bridges that aid quick travel from Europe to Asia, boosting the profile dramatically. So, if you want to buy property in Istanbul, call us today or browse our portfolio. Still, regarding the Bosphorus, also discover all about the magnificent yali mansions.
These vast, shoreline villas were built during the Ottoman period by high-ranking members of government and circles closely connected to royalty. Given their historical status and prestigious, many are under protected status, and owners are restricted regarding renovation and design. As a result, these yali mansions are Turkey's most expensive properties.
Some sell at undisclosed prices, with the notion that you can't afford the cost if you ask. Others have sold to Saudi royalty for around 15 million USD. The Bosphorus affects prices per square metre in modern-day homes. Even if a home doesn't sit directly on the shoreline, Bosphorus sea views make the price rise instantly. Read more about the Famous Yali mansions of Istanbul.
Also About Istanbul
The Golden Horn: The Bosphorus often overshadows Istanbul's Golden Horn of Istanbul, yet is just as crucial with an impressive historical timeline. Those who know their history will mention Constantinople's famous siege by the Ottomans. Sitting in European Istanbul, getting past the first Golden Horn bridge enabled Mehmet, the Conqueror, to invade Constantinople. Yet the Golden Horn's two shores are about much more, even today. Wandering surrounding landmarks showcases the delight of Istanbul.
Bosphorus Villages: Istanbul's Bosphorus villages don't earn as much fame as the old Sultanahmet tourist district or Beyoglu, Galata and Taksim. Yet they are just as important to Istanbul, a city commanding countrywide and international respect. Most people know Istanbul separates the world into two continents, Asia and Europe, via the Bosphorus strait. Yet this stretch of water signifies much more and is also a crucial maritime route for trade between Asia, Europe, and Russia.
Famous Buildings in Istanbul: From the famous Bosphorus bridges in Istanbul to modern and old buildings that stand out for their architecture and illustrious history, we look at which places to go if people want to discover more about Istanbul, away from typical tourist sites. Istanbul's architecture spans various niches and styles, from Ottoman palaces to Christian churches to railway stations and modern skyscrapers.
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