(Original Title “Monumente der Moderne”)

The metropolis of Istanbul was close to a total traffic gridlock by the turn of the millennium. A tunnel beneath the Bosporus promised to be a solution. Constructions began in 2004. In late 2013, the Turkish president Erdogan officially opened the tunnel. Over a time period of eight years the filmmakers Julia Zipfel and Wolfram Giese documented how this gigantic structure was created in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones – and why only one subway line is operating in the tunnel until the present day.

The tunnel is a masterpiece of modern technology. Conceived in such a way to safely withstand even the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis. Latest engineering techniques were not only applied to safety measures but also to the construction of the tunnel tubes. The section underneath the roaring currents of the Bosporus was composed of prefabricated concrete elements brought into place by specialised Japanese ships. The highly risky lowering of fifteen 30.000-ton heavy concrete tubes onto the bottom of the Bosporus was a masterful performance of engineering skill. Until the last works had been completed five more years had passed. Virtually invisible, one of the most fascinating structures in recent decades came into being at the cost 2,5 billon Euro. By now, a subway line regularly operates in the tunnel. However, neither on the European nor on the Asian side has the tunnel been connected with the remaining railway-network – the completion of the ambitious project stagnates.

The documentary “Monuments of Modernity – The Bosporus Tunnel” sheds light on a city living with the risk of earthquakes. It explores the dangers of the dramatic strait between the continents. And it shows how the tunnel construction of Instanbul has changed the life of the people involved.

  • Author: Julia Zipfel, Klaus Kafitz
  • Production: Wolfram Giese
  • Camera: Ricardo Garzon Mesa, Bertie Kropac, Chris Wiens
  • Editing: Alex Seip
  • Length: 45 min.

A k22film production on behalf of ZDFinfo

First broadcast: 2 August 2015