Kanal İstanbul

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Kanal İstanbul
Kanal İstanbul.svg
Length 45–50 km (28–31 miles)
Locks 0
Status First proposed in the 16th century; pre-feasibility studies commenced April 2009, announced April 2011, feasibility studies conducted April 2012, first stage of construction started April 2013
Start point Black Sea
End point Sea of Marmara

Kanal İstanbul (Channel Istanbul) is a Turkish project for the artificial sea-level waterway, which is being built by the Republic of Turkey on the European side of Turkey, connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and hence to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Kanal İstanbul would bisect the current European side of Istanbul and thus form an island between the continents of Asia and Europe (the island would have a shoreline with the Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, the new canal and the Bosphorus).[1][2] The new waterway would bypass the current Bosphorus. Kanal İstanbul aims to minimise shipping traffic in the Istanbul Strait. The project is intended for the 100th anniversary in 2023 of the foundation of the Turkish Republic.


The main purpose of the project is to reduce the marine traffic through the Bosphorus and minimize the risks and dangers associated particularly with tankers.[3] About 56,000 vessels pass yearly through the Istanbul Strait, among them 10,000 tankers carrying 145 million tons of crude oil. International pressure is growing to increase the marine traffic tonnage through the Turkish straits that brings risks for the security of marine navigation during the passage.[4] The canal will further help prevent the pollution caused by cargo vessels passing through or mooring in the Sea of Marmara before the southern entrance of the Bosphorus.[5]

The waterway will have a length of 45–50 km (28–31 mi) with a depth of 25 m (82 ft).[3] Its width will be 150 m (490 ft) on the surface and 120 m (390 ft) at the canal bed. These dimensions wil allow the largest vessels and even submarines to pass.[5]


On January 15, 2018 the route of the project was clear. The Ministry of Transport announced that the project will pass through the routes of Küçükçekmece Lake, Sazlısu Dam and Terkos Dam.[6]

Historical projects[edit]

The concept of a canal linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara has been proposed at least seven times in history.[7]

The first proposal was made by Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (reigned 1520–1566). His architect Mimar Sinan was said to have devised plans for the project. The project was abandoned for unknown reasons.[7]

On March 6, 1591, during the reign of Sultan Murad III, an imperial ferman (order) was issued and work on the project recommenced, but again for unknown reasons the project was stopped.

In 1654 during the reign of Sultan Mehmed IV, pressure for the recommencement of the canal was applied but to no avail.

Sultan Mustafa III (reigned 1757–1774) tried twice in 1760 but the project could not go ahead due to economic problems.

During the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, an Imperial Ottoman Committee was established to examine the project once again. A report was prepared in 1813 but no concrete steps were taken.

A completely opposing view was taken in the 1920-52 plan for Atlantropa, which proposed a hydroelectric dam to be built across the Strait of Gibraltar, lowering of the surface of the Mediterranean Sea by up to 200 metres (660 ft). This plan included a dam across the Dardanelles to hold back the Black Sea.

Finally, on January 17, 1994 shortly before the local elections, the leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) Bülent Ecevit proposed a canal connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.[7][8]

It was not until April 2009, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government started discreet studies on the project and concrete steps were taken for the revival of the project. The project was mentioned by Minister of Transport Binali Yıldırım in May 2009 at the parliament.[4] Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Kanal İstanbul project on April 27, 2011 during a rally held in connection with the upcoming 2011 general elections, calling it as his Crazy Project (Turkish: Çılgın Proje).[3][9][10]

Studies relating to the project were completed within two years. The canal will be in service latest in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic. The project will be financed completely by domestic sources.[5]


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality officials have stated that Kanal İstanbul will cost $10 billion to build and that financing for the development has already been allocated by the Turkish Treasury.[11][12][13] They further added that they would be relying entirely on national resources. It is envisaged that Turkish Armed Forces personnel would play a key role in the Canal's development.

Commencement of works[edit]

On 22 January 2013, the Turkish Government announced that construction of the canal would commence in May 2013.[14] In April 2013 the first stage of the Kanal İstanbul project which includes the construction of various network bridges and highways commenced.[15][16]


Some critics have stated that Turkey aims to bypass the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits, in order to attain greater autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.[17][18] Stratfor characterized the announced $10 billion construction budget and initial operating date of 2023 as being "not realistic for a project of this magnitude."[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Turkey plans 'crazy' new canal". EXPRESS. 2011-04-27. 
  2. ^ "Turkey to build waterway to bypass Bosphorus Straits". BBC News. 2011-04-27. 
  3. ^ a b c Çıtak, Pınar (2011-04-27). "PM Erdoğan speaks out his 'mad project'; İstanbul Canal". Doğan Haber Ajansı. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  4. ^ a b ""Çılgın proje"yi Binali Yıldırım daha önce açıklamıştı". CNN Türk (in Turkish). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  5. ^ a b c "İstanbul'a ikinci boğaz: "Kanal İstanbul"". CNN Türk (in Turkish). 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  6. ^ "Kanal İstanbul konut fiyatlarını geçeceği yerlerde uçurdu!" (in Turkish). Haber.Com. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c "1994'te Ecevit ortaya attı, manşetlere 'mega proje' diye yansıdı". Hürriyet (in Turkish). 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  8. ^ ""Kanal İstanbul" Ecevit'in projesi çıktı". CNN Türk (in Turkish). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  9. ^ "Turkey to build Bosphorus bypass" New Civil Engineer, 20 April 2011. Accessed: 2 December 2014.
  10. ^ Marfeldt, Birgitte. "Startskud for gigantisk kanal gennem Tyrkiet" Ingeniøren, 29 April 2011. Accessed: 2 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Turkey mulls fee rise for Bosporus". DPC Magazine. 
  12. ^ "World Fleet Register". www.sandandgravel.com. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  13. ^ "Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan's 'Crazy Project' for Istanbul: Building a Second Strait". Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  14. ^ "Works on Bosphorous mega-canal go ahead from April - Turkey - ANSAMed.it". www.ansamed.info. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  15. ^ "Gov"t gives green light to "crazy" Canal Istanbul project - LOCAL". Hürriyet Daily News - LEADING NEWS SOURCE FOR TURKEY AND THE REGION. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  16. ^ http://french.ruvr.ru/2013_04_13/La-Turquie-va-construire-un-canal-parallele-au-Bosphore/
  17. ^ "İstanbul Canal project to open debate on Montreux Convention". Today's Zaman. 2010-10-08. Archived from the original on 2011-04-30. 
  18. ^ "Turkey debates whether international treaty is obstacle to plan to bypass the Bosporus". The Washington Post. 2011-04-29. 
  19. ^ "Turkey's Ambitious Canal Proposal". STRATFOR. May 16, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-16. Registry required.