Turkey opened one of the world’s biggest suspension bridges on Friday, the latest megaproject in a $200 billion building spree that President Tayyip Erdogan hopes will secure his place in history.
The bridge creates a new link across the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Asia and Europe.
President Erdogan oversaw a ceremony inaugurating the $3 billion Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, which is touted by its Turko-Italian developers as the world’s broadest suspension bridge at 58.4 metres (192 feet) wide.
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 features 10 lanes, including two rail lines. At 322 metres (1,056 feet), officials say the bridge’s towers are also the tallest in the world.
“When man dies, he leaves behind a monument,” Erdogan told a crowd of thousands waving Turkish flags at the opening ceremony on the shores of the Bosphorus next to the bridge.
He is seeking to use such projects to drive economic growth and secure a place as Turkey’s most significant leader since the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge on the edge of Istanbul is named after a 16th-century Ottoman ruler.
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.
But Turkey’s stellar economic growth has slowed since 2011 and it could face difficulties attracting investment following an attempted coup last month, which led to a purge by the government that has seen tens of thousands of people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education being detained, suspended or placed under investigation.