Turkey opened one of the world’s biggest suspension bridges in Istanbul spanning the strait between Asia and Europe. The government says it is the widest of its kind in the world

ISTANBUL – Turkey unveiled the third biggest suspension bridge connecting the Asian and European sides of its largest city, Istanbul. The opening ceremony attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

“We are celebrating together and we are very proud of it. The nation deserves this. With God’s permission, this nation will get what it deserves.This is the great day and joyful day,” President Erdogan said.

Erdogan’s infrastructure drive is transforming Europe’s biggest city, which straddles the Bosphorus Strait. In a little more than a decade, Istanbul’s skyline has soared, new highways have been built, and the length of the metro tripled.

“It will not only serve to Istanbul but also serve to every journey in the historic Silk Road, starting from the Far East, ending in Europe and bringing civilizations together by connecting people,” he told a crowd of dignitaries.

Thousands of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) joined President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a large stage area, wearing matching white hats with the bridge’s logo. All the ceremonies were broadcast live, replete with speeches by the politicians in attendance.

Red and white balloons are released during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city’s European and Asian sides in Istanbul, Turkey on August 26, 2016. Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Red and white balloons are released during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city’s European and Asian sides in Istanbul, Turkey on August 26, 2016. Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, which cost nearly $3 billion to construct, is the latest in a raft of infrastructure “mega-projects” unveiled by the government.

The 1.4 kilometer (0.9 mile) bridge will carry eight lanes of traffic and two rail lines between Europe and Asia at the entrance of the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.

Named after Selim I, the 16th century sultan known for his expansion of the Ottoman empire, the bridge accompanies the July 15 Matryrs’ Bridge — previously the Bosphorus Bridge — and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in crossing the Bosphorus.

The 1.4 kilometer (0.9 miles) bridge will carry eight lanes of traffic and two rail lines between Europe and Asia at the entrance of the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.

The toll bridge, spanning 1,408 metres (4,620 feet) over the Bosphorus, is built in the style of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and boasts pylons higher than the Eiffel Tower.

It took more than three years to build the $3 billion bridge which is part of $200 billion worth of construction initiatives pushed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A general view shows the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 23, 2016. Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters

A general view shows the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 23, 2016. Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters

The bridge creates a new link across the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Asia and Europe.

The bridge is named Yavuz Sultan Selim after Sultan Selim I, under whose reign the Ottoman Empire expanded greatly into the Middle East before he died in 1520. The bridge has a width of 192 feet and a height of 1,056 feet. The Turkish government says it is the widest suspension bridge of its kind in the world.

Another large-scale project for the city, the Eurasia tunnel under the Bosporus, is expected to be inaugurated on December 20. It will complement the Marmaray railway tunnel, which opened in 2013.