President Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have attended the opening of a third bridge in Istanbul spanning the strait between Asia and Europe. The government says it is the widest of its kind in the world.
Turkey on Friday opened a third bridge connecting the Asian and European sides of its largest city, Istanbul.
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.
Erdogan later traveled over the bridge in a heavily guarded bus.
The bridge, one of many infrastructure projects promoted by Erdogan, is meant to alleviate the traffic problems on the other two Bosporus bridges, help to develop the city's northern areas and to provide a connection to a new airport currently under construction.
It took more than three years to build and has cost some 3 billion dollars (2.7 billion euros). The government has described it as the widest suspension bridge of its kind in the world.
It is the longest of the three bridges now spanning the strait and carries an eight-lane road and twin railway tracks. The First Bosporus Bridge opened in 1973 and the Fifth Sultan Mehmet Bridge in 1988.
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.
Erdogan has been criticized for what he himself has humorously called "crazy projects," with opponents saying they are often too extravagant and damage the environment.
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.
tj/jil (dpa, AFP)