The Chain Bridge, The Bridges of Budapest

The bridges of Budapest could be the title of a love song, or the plot of a romantic movie because, in truth, they turn out to be poetry. The most emblematic bridges in Budapest are:

  • Chain Bridge – Széchényi lánchid
  • Margaret Bridge – Margit Híd
  • Liberty Bridge – Szabadság Híd
  • Elizabeth Bridge – Erzsébet Híd

Walking through these places is an evocation to beauty, it is when crossing them at sunset or when the sun rises,  you think that a supreme mind really exists and traces the most beautiful and unrepeatable canvases every day. 

Who lives in any side of the city, Buda or Pest, needs to cross to the other side through any of its bridges, can not help the inherent sight that comes from crossing the Danube through any of the bridges that twinned two cities forever to become one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the majestic Budapest.

  Chain Bridge of SZÉCHÉNYI

Chain Bridge Budapest

Budapest has an anonymous hero for those who did not grow up here and for whom the Magyar language is an indecipherable and unpronounceable language. Széchenyi István, a name you will often see around the city or on your 5000 FT note. Széchényi Istvan is one of the most important names in Hungarian history. Therefore, and well deserved it, the bridge takes its name, The Chain Bridge of Széchényi to honor a great Hungarian.

The Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge and it was the first bridge that connected the cities of Buda and Pest. It was the second bridge along the Danube river.

Szechenyi Istvan, the greatest Hungarian among all the Hungarians was an aristocrat born in Vienna in the Austro-Hungarian empire as Count István Széchenyi. His family was faithful to the Habsburg empire.
Széchényi wanted to close the huge gap of development between European countries and Hungary, Istvan decided to close this gap. He invested his own resources and promoted the investment of other members of the nobility.

Thanks to Istvan’s generosity we can admire many of the monuments and institutions that he impulsed such as the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 

The plan of Széchényi

Széchényi traveled to England to find the best-specialized engineers in bridge chained suspensions structure. Back in the time, England was a pioneer in the construction of its bridges. The architect Adam Clark was in charge of the project designed by the engineer William Tierney Clark.  You will find Adam Clark’s name in the square in the side of Buda across the bridge. One of the few squares named with a foreign name in Budapest!

The Chain Bridge is based on another work by William Tierney Clark in Marlow, UK. The Marlow Bridge is one of the first designs of a suspension bridge. The Chain Bridge is a longer version with a length of 380 m. The bridge structure was made in England and assembled in Budapest.

The construction began in 1840 in the middle of political problems such as the revolution in June 1849. Finally, after almost ten years of construction, the bridge was inaugurated on November 1849. The sculptures of the lions, which are a symbol of the city of Budapest were installed in 1852.

The Second World War was a very dark time for the entire city. The Chain Bridge was not safe from the atrocity of the war; The bridge was destroyed by the German army on the Siege of Budapest. Only two pillars that support it survived. 

Hundred years after its first inauguration, the bridge was re-opened to the public in 1949. Currently, year after year on this bridge on August 20, the most important national celebration in Hungary takes place. A rain of fireworks decorates beautiful Budapest.

This is without a doubt, one of the icons of the city. Cross and admire this bridge from the river walk is a gift for the senses, something that you will always remember.

Margit Bridge

Margit Bridge Budapest

Twenty years after the construction of the Chain Bridge was constructed the Margit Bridge. This was the second permanent bridge in Budapest and its architecture was inspired by a Neo-Baroque French style. The Hungarian capital growth in population in a very fast way and the chain bridge wasn’t enough to satisfy the demands of the city.

In 1871 a competition for the construction of a new bridge was launched. This bridge will connect Buda and Pest on its western side. Therefore, the plans of the French engineer, Ernest Gouin were the chosen ones of the contest. His design of a Parisian style bridge with an arched structure won the victory.

The construction of the bridge began in 1872 but it was interrupted due to the bad weather. The works started again in 1873. The original bridge’s floor was covered with wood that was replaced by asphalt as we know it now. 

The bridge’s construction was completed in March 1876. The government and the construction company had some little misunderstanding wit each other. Setbacks from the construction company and money excess of the budget resulted in court. The total cost for the construction was 5 051 000 HUF. that is to say, more than ¼ of the amount allocated.

The Bridge and the Island

Back in those days, Margit Island wasn’t connected to the bridge as we know today. The main project was to make a jetty that would take people to the island after some stairs. The island was owned by the Hungarian Palatinates who built the baths and other profitable leisure facilities. They pushed the government to build one ending of the bridge to the island to connect them. And in 1897 they made an offer for the government so the bridge will end on the island and let him go at his expense.

Like all the Bridges in Budapest, during the Second World War, the Margit Bridge was surprisingly shot down on November 4, 1944. Its three pillars on the Pest side were destroyed; the attack left so many mortal victims. On January 18, 1945, the side of Buda was bombed by the German army.

Its reconstruction took place only after the reconstruction of the Liberty Bridge; the Margit bridge was re-inaugurated on August 1948. It measures are 607 meters long and 25 meters wide. Currently, lines 4 and 6 of the tram cross the bridge and it is one of the busiest.

Liberty Bridge
Sabadság Híd

Liberty Bridge, or Szabadság híd

The first name given to this bridge was after Emperor Franz Joseph, now we know it as Liberty Bridge. In the 1870s the construction of one or two bridges was ordered by the legislature. This two bridges must be placed along the Danube. The authorities recognized the need to do so, based on the demands of the always growing city. After the construction of the Margarita bridge and the railway systems, the budget was over and only the liberty bridge could be built.

However, it is not until the 1890s that the possibility of building a new bridge begins to be clear. After the population grew to 400,000 inhabitants, that is to say, the population quadrupled in addition to the great rise of the industry and trade. As a result, transport has developed in such proportions that it is the two bridges on the Danube road could not meet their needs.

In 1893 the international call for the construction of the bridge was launched. The project was adjudicated to Hungarian Janos Fekete Hazy who was the engineer of the Hungary rail system. The construction was carried out between 1894 and 1896 and it was part of the millennium celebration. The iron material was produced and laminated in Hungary. The Franz Joseph Bridge was the first bridge entirely made in Hungary.

On January 16, 1945, the bridge was bombed by the Nazi army, was the second to be rebuilt after the Chain Bridge and was inaugurated as the Liberty Bridge, paradoxically, in the transition to the new Soviet regime

Erzsébet Híd Elizabeth Bridge

Original Elizabeth Bridge

This Bridge takes the name of Empress Elizabeth, who everyone calls with affection Sissy. In Hungarian, the name of the bridge is the Erzsébet Híd. However, the bridge we know today is the substitute for what was once a splendid bridge inspired by a beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. 

The bidding project began in 1894. The winner of the international competition was the German engineer Julius Kübler and his colleague, the architect Eisenlohr and Weigle. After some problems related to the materials and where they will be produced, the construction of the bridge began in 1897 under the plans of Aurél Czekelius and Antal Kherndl.

The project, in general, went through one of the biggest dilemmas that were having to demolish the church that is currently next to it. The project specified that it should be demolished, but certain logistical problems led to the “temporary” construction of the bridge leaving the church unmoved. This “temporary” state is still present.

Bridge shaft 

Actual Elizabeth bridge, Budapest

“The Elisabeth Bridge Axis problem remains a recurring problem. If we look from the side of the church, from the towers of the church or from the city we see in the center, a path completely uphill, and the question arises: how could Elisabeth’s bridge be built here? And the answer is ready immediately: the axis of the bridge is completely wrong, it is in the wrong direction Finding the problem can only be correct if we know the whole story ” (1956): Pál Gábor, The bridges of Budapest.

The bridge was finally completed in 1903 and inaugurated on  October 10 of the same year. It had a length of 378.6 meters and 11 meters wide. He held the record of being the longest chain bridge until 1926.

The cost of the original bridge was approximately 12.4 million crowns. That is to say, almost the double what was planned, that makes it the second most expensive.

Unfortunately, like all other bridges in Budapest, it was also bombed in World War II. It was destroyed by the NAZI army in the Siege of Budapest on January 18, 1945.

This is the only bridge that was not rebuilt after the war. The Elizabeth Bridge we know today was built between 1960 and 1964 and under modernist standards. The bridge design is quite sober,  Pál Sávoly was the designer of the new suspended Bridge, using modern lines in addition to using the original pillars.

Any of these amazing bridges are worth to see and walk over them. These bridges keep Budapest secrets of people who live and lovers that fall in love every time they pass through the beauty of this city. Come to dream and fall in love on the Bridges of Budapest.