Turkish Contractors Are Drilling Mountains Like Ferhat

Ferhat, the protagonist of an old Turkish folk tale, takes up the very difficult task of reaching his beloved one. He will burrow through the mountains to bring water to Amasya city.

Turkey’s rough terrain has produced many Ferhats, and will continue to do so. Seeking to link the nation’s cities and connect the interior regions of Anatolia with its coastal areas in a short time, Turks are drilling mountains and constructing tunnels like Ferhat, but, of course, using cutting edge technology.

Ovit Tunnel

A 14.7-km (9.1-mile) long motor vehicle tunnel located more than 2000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level.

The tunnel, completed in 2018 through Ovit Mountain, which stands at an altitude 2,640 meters (8,661 feet) in Rize province, on the Black Sea coast, is the longest underground road passage of Turkey and the sixth longest in the world. The cost of the project, being constructed as a tunnel with double tubes of the same length, is approaching $500 Million.

By using the tunnel, the existing 250-km (153.4 mile) distance between the cities of Rize and Erzurum is reduced to 200 km (93.2 miles). Turkey’s eastern Black Sea coast will be connected with Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia from Erzurum by the shortest possible way. The project also foresees the building of a logistics center in Iyidere in Rize province. Ovit Tunnel will help increase interregional trade and reduce transport costs.

Initial designs of the project to pass Ovit Mountain, were drawn during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II, and used 132 years after his rule.

Hassa Tunnel

The Hassa Tunnel will bypass the hairpin turns of the Amanos Mountains, which divide southeast Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean coast. It will have four separate road tunnels with a total 31.3 km (19.4 miles) of highways, with the longest being 12.3 km (7.6 miles). Four bridges are also planned.

Once realized, the project will reduce the distance from Gaziantep to İskenderun from 221 km (137 miles) to 136 km (85 miles), from Kahramanmaraş to İskenderun from 186 km (116 miles) to 151 km (94 miles), from Kilis to İskenderun from 153 km (95 miles) to 113 km (70 miles), and from Hassa to Payas from 100 km (62 miles) to 31.3 km (19 miles).

Ilgaz Mountain Tunnel

The 10,761-meter (6.7 mile) Ilgaz Mountain Tunnel, which is opened in 2016, is an underground road passage is part of the new 227-km (141 mile) highway linking Ankara, Çankırı and Kastamonu in Northwest Turkey. The old route, which has many high slopes, will be scrapped, upon the completion of the tunnel. While it presently takes 35 minutes to transit around the mountain, a major regional barrier, travel time will be reduced to eight minutes via the tunnel, which runs through the peak.

Ferhat and Şirin, is a well-known old epic of Turkey that is also narrated in Central Asia, Azerbaijan and the Balkans. The epic, which is also the subject of various plays today, dates back to Baal and Ishtar, the Sumerian gods.

The Anatolian version of the story of Ferhat and Şirin, which we come across as “Husrev u şirin” (Khosrow and Şirin) in Iranian literature and which is mentioned in many historical sources including Shahnamah by Feredowsi, is as follows:

“Mehmene Banu, the female sultan of Erzen city in Azerbaijan, has a mansion built for her sister, Princess Şirin. Ferhat, the most famous muralist of the region, is assigned to embellishing the building. While working, he sees Şirin and falls in love with her.

But Mehmene Banu sees Ferhat and loves him. She does not want him to marry her sister. Meanwhile, during his travels in Anatolia, he meets Hurmuz Shah, the sultan of Amasya city. When the Shah hears his story, he asks for Şirin’s hand in marriage for Ferhat from Mehmene Banu. Banu rejects the proposal and the two rulers join battle each other.

After Mehmene Banu is defeated in the war, Şirin is a brought to Amasya. When the son of Hurmuz Shah sees Sirin, he falls in love with her. Now Hurmuz Shah is up against the wall. He assigns an almost impossible task to Ferhat, which he says he must fulfill before he can rejoin Şirin.

He is going to dig through a mountain in Amasya to bring water to the city. Ferhat starts working with great enthusiasm and joy of reaching his beloved one. And he almost completes the work within a short time. Seeing this, Hurmuz Shah sends word to Ferhat working on the mountain that Şirin has died.

Ferhat, who can’t bear this pain, tosses the mace, with which he has been digging, and kills himself by being trapped under it. And Şirin, who hears of his death, kills herself with a dagger. The two lovers are buried together. Rumor has it that every spring, a red rose blooms on the grave of Ferhat and white rose grows on the grave of Şirin, along with a thorn between them.”