Iconic Bridges Of Istanbul Uncovered!
With Istanbul being a dual continental city located on both Europe and Asia, it’s no wonder there are so many Istanbul Bridges crossing the city’s watery expanses.
Surrounded by liquid on all sides (except for to the west) Istanbul has the Bosporus and the Golden Horn splitting the city, and the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara bordering the southern and extreme northern city borders.
As such there are several bridges within greater Istanbul, each with their own unique history timeline and characteristics.
In this article, we’ll examine the most important of the Istanbul Bridges, reveal which are our favorite bridges and why, and discover how these marvels of modern engineering came about.
The Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 1670 feet (490m) | Bridge Width: 138 feet (42m)
The Galata Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Istanbul and spans the Golden Horn in the center of Istanbul where all the major tourist sites are located.
It connects the neighborhoods of Galata and Eminönü and was originally built in the 19th century, being the fifth Galata Bridge built at this location.
The bridge has been featured many times in Turkish literature and theater, and the rows of fishermen on each side of this steel bascule bridge have become iconic images of Istanbul.
While not the most glamorous looking of bridges, of all the Istanbul Bridges, the Galata Bridge holds a special place in the hearts of the city’s inhabitants, its writers, songbirds and poets.
As the first bridge constructed in the city’s waterways connecting Eminönü, near the Spice Bazaar and the Yeni Camii or New Mosque, to the Karaköy area, the Galata Bridge is the most famous of all Istanbul Bridges.
The Bosphorus Bridge (15 Temmuz Şehitler Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 5118 feet (1560m) | Bridge Width: 110 feet (33m)
The Bosphorus Bridge, also known as the July 15 Martyrs Bridge, is one of the most important bridges in Istanbul on the Bosphorus.
It has numerous other names, such as the Turkey Bridge and First Bosphorus Bridge, Boğaziçi Köprüsü.
The Bosphorus Bridge is Istanbul’s main road artery between the Asian and European parts of the city.
This is Istanbul highest bridge rising 210 feet (64m) above the water level and at night, the uniquely designed lights of this bridge always give a beautiful effect to Istanbul.
The bridge was renamed in July of 2016 as the July 15 Martys Bridge to commemorate the failed Turkish coup d’état attempt where a rival political faction attempted a takeover of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP Party.
The Golden Horn Bridge (Haliç Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 3264 feet (995m) | Bridge Width: 105 feet (32m)
The Haliç Bridge is a road bridge in western Istanbul spanning the Golden Horn.
It links the neighborhoods of Ayvansaray in the southwest to Halıcıoğlu in the northwest and carries the Istanbul Inner Beltway (O-1 motorway).
As Istanbul Bridges go this is by far the least interesting bridge but it gets a mention thanks to the fact that is was built in the 1970’s and had no Turkish construction company involved in the project.
Constructed in 1971-1974 by IHI Corporation of Japan and Julius Berger-Bauboag AG of Germany, it measures 995 m in length and 32 m in width, standing at a height of 22 m above sea level.
Due to massive traffic volumes two new steel bridges of two lanes each were added on to both sides of the existing bridge between 1994 and 1998.
You likely won’t want to visit The Haliç Bridge for any reason other than you might be driving over it.
The Atatürk Bridge (Atatürk Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 1565 feet (477m) | Bridge Width: 82 feet (25m)
Also known as the Unkapanı Bridge, the Atatürk Bridge is a fairly non-descript highway bridge in Istanbul spanning the Golden Horn just west of the Galata Bridge and the Metro Bridge.
It’s named after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of Turkey and honestly, we think that there should be a much grander bridge in the city named after the great man, but we digress.
Anyhow, a bridge on this site was built in 1836 and was initially named the Hayratiye Bridge. It was replaced by an iron bridge in 1875, which was later demolished.
The Third Galata Bridge was then relocated to the site and used until 1936 when it was damaged by a storm.
The current bridge was built in 1936-1940 and was named the Atatürk Bridge at that time and it makes our list because its the only bridge dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the city.
At least on the evening when the light is right you can get some good shots of this bridge with the picturesque Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque in the background.
The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 4950 feet (1510m) | Bridge Width: 128 feet (39m)
This is Istanbul’s second bridge spanning the Bosphorus to connect the Asian Kavacık district and the European Hısarüstü district.
Named in honor of famed Ottoman Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror of Constantinople, construction began in 1986 with the bridge opening on the 3rd of July, 1988.
The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is the 14th largest steel suspension bridge in the world and spans the narrowest part of the Bosphorus where the straights are 2165 feet (660m) across.
Pedestrians cannot use this bridge as it is a traffic-only thoroughfare.
The Golden Horn Metro Bridge (Haliç Metro Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 3071 feet (936m) | Bridge Width: 41 feet (13m)
The Golden Horn Metro Bridge connects the districts of Beyoğlu and Fatih in Istanbul.
It’s a cable-stayed bridge with two 65-meter towers and a harp design. The bridge actually houses the Haliç station of the M2 metro line, which offers views of the Golden Horn, ship docks, Suleymaniye mosque and other touristic sights.
The pedestrian walkways provide a great opportunity to admire the views and watch the harbor traffic, sea birds, people, and bicyclists.
Although not the bridge’s architect, the conceptual design for the bridge was handled by French engineer Michel Virlogeux, who’s a specialist in bridge design. He also designed the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge.
The view from the bridge is quite breathtaking and offers stunning vistas of both sides of Istanbul making this, of all the Istanbul Bridges, probably one of the best places to spend an evening watching the sunset.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (Yavuz Sultan Selim Köprüsü)
Bridge Length: 7100 feet (1510m) | Bridge Width: 192 feet (58m)
Located at the northern end of the Bosphorus, near the entrance of the Black Sea, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge begins in Garipçe on the European side and extends to Poyrazköy on the Asian side.
At 322 meters tall and 59 meters wide, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is a true giant among suspension bridges.
It boasts an impressive place among the world’s largest suspension bridges for both rail and road traffic.
What sets it apart from its Bosphorus siblings is that it accommodates not only vehicles and rail traffic, but also pedestrians.
Named after the great Ottoman Sultan Selim I, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is a marvel of engineering that stretches across the Bosphorus, connecting the two continents of Europe and Asia.
This hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge, completed in 2016, was designed to handle long-distance traffic that prefers to miss the main metropolitan areas to instead take a wide arc around the city instead.
Its amazing what 4.5 Billion Turkish Lira can buy. Well, could buy back in 2016.
Our Thoughts About Istanbul Bridges
Well, as we’ve discovered, Istanbul is home to many bridges each with its own unique history and characteristics.
These Istanbul Bridges connect the various neighborhoods of Istanbul and provide a beautiful view of the city and its waterways.
Personally, we’re big fans of watching the fisherman on the Galata Bridge and find that we can easily whittle away hours here with the sights, smells and tastes of the area. The balık ekmek (fish sandwich) vendors are a delight, especially if you love seafood as we do.
The other pastime that’s hard to beat is breakfast on the banks of the Bosphorus near the soaring expanses of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, where there are multiple restaurants along the waterfront.
Whether crossing the Golden Horn or the Bosphorus Strait, all the Istanbul Bridges we.ve covered are an important part of the city’s infrastructure and (most) are a must-visit for anyone in Istanbul who loves the water and is looking for a good spot for an Instagram pic or a new Tik Tok video!
Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed the article!