Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge crossing the Danube river. It connects the two areas of the city, that is to say Buda and Pest. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, it was the first permanent bridge on the Danube river which was opened in 1849, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.
The bridge was financed by the Greek merchant Georgios Sinas, who had strong financial and trading interests in connecting the two areas of the city. It was designed in sections and shipped from the United Kingdom to Hungary for its final construction.
At the beginning of 1900 some additional works in cast iron were made, making the structure even more solid. However, they were not enough; during World War II the bridge was blown up on 18 January 1945 by the retreating German troops during the Siege of Budapest. Only the towers remained after the explosion. The bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 1949.
On the Pest side the bridge access to Széchenyi Square, not far from the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Science. On the Buda side, the bridge is anchored to Adam Clark Square, near the lower end of the Buda Castle Funicular. The bridge is the largest version of the bridge suspended over the Thames, which was designed by the very same English engineer in the city of Marlow.
Did you know that…
A plaque on the Pest side of the bridge commemorates the only two bridges designed by William Tierney Clark that survived War World II: the Chain Bridge and the Bridge over the Thames in Marlow.
The bridge was named after Count István Széchenyi, one of the major supporters of its construction, but it is known as the Chain Bridge. When it was constructed it was regarded as one of the world’s engineering wonders. The Chain Bridge in Budapest is the equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
The Chain Bridge, made of cast iron, became the symbol of progress in Budapest as well as a symbol of national pride thanks to its magnificence and solidity. Two impressive and Neo-Classical pillars equidistant from the two shores of the river support the structure, which reaches its highest peak in the centre span, with more than 200 meters in length.
The lions at the base of each pillar were carved in stone by the artist János Marschalkó. They are very similar to the bronze lions of Trafalgar Square in London, which were designed just a few years later. However, the lions are slightly smaller and have different details, like the lack of tongues.
We suggest to plan an evening walk over the Chain Bridge when it is lighted up and the city reflects over the Danube River; the Parliament in particular appears very charming.