Leonardo-Designed Bridge To Span Istanbul

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 04:46

A bridge designed in 1502 by Leonardo da Vinci will be built over the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the project is being financed by local and international sponsors at no cost to the state. In 1502, Sultan Bayezid II invited Leonardo to Istanbul to design a bridge to cross the Golden Horn inlet on the Bosphorus that forms a natural harbour and so unite the divided city by linking Eminönü to Karaköy.

Leonardo produced designs for the civil-engineering project using a pressed bow, parabolic curve and keystone arch. However, the Italian polymath was ahead of his time: pressed-bow construction methods did not come into common use until 300 years later. Because Leonardo’s innovative design was too advanced for 16th-century builders, it did not meet the Sultan’s approval. The bridge would have been the world’s longest at the time had it been built.

Another Italian artist, engineer and architect, Michelangelo, was invited to design the bridge, but he rejected the proposal.

Ponte Leonardo

Although the bridge was never realised, it has remained in public consciousness, referred to as ‘The Queen of Bridges’. Leonardo’s drawing is in the Bibliothèque de l’Institut de France in Paris A smaller scale version of Leonardo’s bridge was finally brought to life in Ås, Norway in 2001 by Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand. The footbridge was the first civil-engineering project based on a Leonardo sketch to be built.

‘Turkishweekly.net’ reports that Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality said the first sketches of the bridge have been submitted to the Cultural Wealth Protection Committee. The sketches improve on Leonardo’s bridge by taking into account the latest technology.

The pedestrian bridge will be 722 feet long, 33 feet wide and rise 82 feet above the surface of the water at its highest point. No date has been announced as to when construction will commence.