GARIPCE (TURKEY) • Turkey has opened one of the world's biggest suspension bridges, the latest mega-project in a US$200 billion (S$272 billion) building spree that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes will secure his place in history.
The bridge creates a new link across the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Asia and Europe. It is built in the style of New York's Brooklyn Bridge and boasts pylons higher than the Eiffel Tower. It is 1.4km long and 59m wide, with eight vehicle lanes and two high-speed rail lines.
"When man dies, he leaves behind a monument," Mr Erdogan told a crowd of thousands waving Turkish flags at the opening ceremony on Friday 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.
"Be proud of your power, Turkey," said a TV advert before the opening of the US$3 billion (S$4 billion) Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge on the edge of Istanbul. It is named after a 16th-century Ottoman ruler.
Mr Erdogan's infrastructure drive is transforming Europe's biggest city. In a little more than a decade, Istanbul's skyline has soared, new highways have been built and the length of the metro has trebled.
But Turkey's stellar economic growth has slowed since 2011 and it could face difficulties attracting investment following an attempted coup last month. The country has also been hit by attacks this summer by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, while the Turkish army's incursion last week into Syria to curb militants and Kurdish forces has unsettled nerves.
But Mr Erdogan - whose government announced the decade-long infrastructure investment drive three years ago - has vowed that the recent turmoil will not stop planned mega-projects.