canal (links to original article)
//ed. note: with the very recent announcement of the new canal project
to link the Black and Marmara Seas, some historical perspective is
(Sabah Newspaper, 28 April 2011)
In the event that the KanalIstanbul project to join the Black Sea and the
Marmara materializes then a dream that began during the reign of Sultan
Süleyman and continued for nearly five centuries will have been realized.
Prof. Dr. Said Öztürk, an economics history professor at Yıldız Technical
University, stated that the canal initiative began during Sultan Süleyman's
time and he explained the process as follows:
'The project to join the Black Sea with the Marmara with a canal was on
the agenda of the Ottomans. According to existing information, the project
was attempted seven times. In fact, it is said that The Lawgiver (Süleyman)
even had it started. Sokullu Mehmet Paşa was involved with the project and
Mimar Sinan was personally in charge of the endeavor. It is known that it
advanced some 15 kilometers from the (Izmit) Gulf.'
'The second attempt was made in 1591 during the reign of Sultan Murat III
and a ferman (order) was issued in this regard on 6 March 1591. It was
anticipated that this canal would be used by ships at Izmit. The project
came up again in 1654 during the time of Sultan Mehmet IV but again it
could not be pushed forward. Sultan Mustafa III tried twice in 1760 but
was thwarted by financial problems. The project came up again during the
reign of Sultan Mahmud II who put the effort on the agenda once again
after receiving a report on it in 1813. He even assigned a committee.'
'The project was taken up yet again by Sultan Abdülmecid in 1845 and
1857. An order from the Sultan was issued for linking Lake Sapanca
to the Gulf of Izmit and for the Sakarya River to be connected to the
lake. Studies were done by engineers Riter and Hayri Bey for the linking
of Lake Sapanca to the Gulf of Izmit in 1863, during the reign of Sultan
Abdülaziz. The main aim was to ensure a way to transport fuel to meet
the need for heating.'
'Katip Çelebi (Ottoman scholar and writer of the 17th century) wrote
quite a bit about the idea in his Cihannüma (world geographical atlas,
written 1648, 1654). There was also a project to connect the Black
and Caspian Seas in Ottoman times.'