Istanbul: Will the idea of Pliny Canal become reality after all?

Istanbul: Will the idea of Pliny Canal become reality after all?

The ancient Romans first had the idea of building a bypass next to the Bosphorus, which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Black Sea through the strait near Istanbul, which would reduce the high load on the strait from shipping traffic.

A few years ago, the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, now almost 2,000 years later, took up this idea again and submitted it to the High Planning Council in Ankara for examination. And listen and be amazed, the High Council approved the billion-euro project. So Turkey will build a canal that will stretch about 50 kilometres from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus relieving the Bosphorus.

Ferries and pleasure boats dangerous for freight traffic

Istanbul bosphorus bridgeAnyone who has ever been to Istanbul on the Bosporus can certainly understand very well that the high volume of ships in the strait actually poses a huge potential risk for the city and the surrounding nature. About 150 cargo ships of different nationalities and so different cargo that is transported through the middle of Istanbul. In particular, gas and oil tankers with around 300,000 tons of gas or oil are routed through the Bosphorus every day. A really hardly assessable risk potential for the people in the megacity Istanbul. A collision between two ships could have devastating effects. The journey through the Bosphorus is always a real challenge for the captains of the ships, because there are 14 tight curves that have to be negotiated. Strong currents in the water balance between the Black Sea and the Aegean do not make it any easier to pass the 32 kilometres of the Bosphorus. Another possible risk of collision is caused by the many ferries and pleasure boats that constantly commute between the European and Asian parts of the city of Istanbul, always crossing the north-south direction of large shipping. And the number of ships is still increasing. Isn't it a really good idea to relieve the Bosporus, the only natural connection between the seas to date, by building a canal?

istanbul bosporus bridge 1The plan for a canal parallel to the Bosphorus appeared in the media for the first time in modern times when Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul. With the decision of the High Planning Council, the plans are now becoming noticeably more concrete, but not like the Romans, who wanted to include the Sangarius River and the Sapanca Lake in their construction project, the Erdogan government wants a completely new canal about 40 kilometers west of the Bosporus from Terkos -lake on the Black Sea coast to the south, which should reach the Sea of Marmara between the villages of Silivri and Lake Büyükcekmece. A width of 150 meters and a depth of 25 meters is planned, so that even super tankers can use the artificial waterway. According to the plans that have now been approved, up to 160 ships can pass through the canal every day, so that the Bosporus could be completely relieved. Construction costs of around 10 billion euros have been calculated.

Canal construction - a realistic project that the world will be talking about!

istanbul bosporus bridge 3In the meantime, even Erdogan spoke of a "crazy" project that has now been approved by the High Planning Council and is about to be implemented. It is by no means the only major project to be implemented in Turkey's still booming economic phase. Satellite towns to the metropolis of Istanbul, which is slowly bursting at the seams, could thus arise on both sides of the canal. Official figures speak of 14 million inhabitants, in fact it is more like 18 - 20 million people who populate the Moloch Istanbul. The new major airport is also to be built in the canal zone, which according to its planners will be the largest airport in the world. So far there is no official information on the construction times and when the project will even start. If Istanbul, which has also applied to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, can win the bid, the canal region is also earmarked for the construction of the sports venues. Thus, one can speak of comprehensive planning, which will result in Turkey catching up with the ten largest economic nations in the world. The Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan puts it as follows: "..a realistic project that the world will talk about".

Of course, the publication of the project idea also gets environmentalists on the scene, because the canal will cut through a forest area that is important for Istanbul and is of great importance for the city's water supply. Of course, a major project like this canal will also have a very significant impact on the climate as a whole, and the region's fauna and flora will change significantly. It remains to be seen whether politicians will engage in investigations into the preparation of forecasts for sustainable changes.

Please read as well:

The Pliny Canal - an ancient canal project

Basilica Cistern - Sunken Palace Istanbul

Byzantine Hagia Sophia - Anthemios & Isodorus


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