A controversial bridge in the German city of Dresden has opened despite objections from the UN heritage body Unesco, which removed Dresden from its World Heritage list in protest.

The four-lane structure over the River Elbe was inaugurated on Saturday and will open to vehicle traffic on Monday.

Dresden is the first European site ever to be de-listed by Unesco, which said the bridge marred the view of the city’s magnificent baroque palaces.

The new bridge cost 182m euros (£156m). Construction was approved in a local referendum in 2005, with more than two-thirds of Dresden’s voters giving their support.

The BBC’s Steve Evans in Berlin says it was a bridge too far for Unesco, which has 981 World Heritage Sites, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

It took Dresden off the list in 2009. Environmental organisations also launched legal proceedings to get the bridge stopped but without success.