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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 23:21 GMT
Leonardo bridge opens 500 years late
As bridge
Around 500 people crossed the newly opened bridge
A bridge designed by the Italian master, Leonardo da Vinci, has finally been unveiled - almost 500 years after it was first conceived.

Its location has also shifted considerably with the years - originally destined to span the Golden Horn in Istanbul's Bosporus, it has finally been constructed in the small town of As in southern Norway.

This is the first time any of Leonardo's architectural and civil-engineering designs has been built

Vebjoern Sand
The 100 metre (220 foot) bridge was considered impossible in Da Vinci's time.

But the old master's dream finally became a reality when on Wednesday, giant cranes lifted the white covers from the bridge and revealed the elegant timber arches.

Leonardo Da Vinci
Da Vinci allegedly offered to build the bridge himself
"This is the first time any of Leonardo's architectural and civil-engineering designs has been built. There have been models but this is the first in full size," said Norwegian artist Vebjoern Sand who convinced Norway's highway authorities to take on the project.

The design was rejected by Sultan Bajazet II for whom Da Vinci had designed the bridge in 1502.

Architecture from the 1970s looks older than Leonardo's design

Vebjoern Sand
At its original length of 240m, it would have been the longest in the world and the Sultan did not believe it could be completed.

Da Vinci was so convinced by his own project that he is believed to have even offered to build it himself.

The basis of the construction - three arches supporting a walkway - was first accepted as an engineering principle 300 years after Da Vinci made his drawing, confirming his reputation as a man ahead of his time.

"It was amazingly futuristic," said Mr Sand.
Unveiling of bridge
Cranes lifted giant white covers from the bridge
"When you work with geniuses, you work with eternal forms that never go out of fashion. Architecture from the 1970s looks older than Leonardo's design."

The technique of laminated timber used in the construction was first developed for the construction of a skating rink for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

Mr Sand's ambition is to build a Leonardo bridge on every continent. There are plans to construct a version of the bridge in stone in the United States.

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