The Chain Bridge (Podul cu Lanturi)

The Szechenyi Chain Bridge is one of the main attractions in Budapest. It is a suspension bridge that traverses the Danube River, uniting the western and the eastern sides of Budapest: Buda and Pest.

The western end of the bridge is connected to the Szechenyi Square from where tourists can take the path that leads towards the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (two points of interest situated in the Hungarian capital city). At the eastern end of the bridge one can find the Adam Clark Square. In close vicinity there are other touristic attractions which are worth visiting such as Castle Hill Funicular, or the Buda Castle which is located at a considerable distance from the bridge.

While you might not be fond of the idea of traversing Buda in order to reach the castle, you should take into account that this is precisely the reason for which you have come to Budapest: to visit the surroundings and indulge yourself with the unique architectural design that Hungary has to offer.

The name of the bridge was given after István Széchenyi, one of the most ardent supporters of the construction. But the official name of the bridge is rarely used, the majority referring to the construction as the Chain Bridge. This was the first bridge ever to traverse the Danube River. When the construction was completed, the bridge was regarded as an engineering marvel and its importance was highly praised as the bridge was seen as bearing economic, social and cultural significance. The Chain Bridge became highly recognized throughout the European continent, its structure having contributed extensively to its fame. The imposing bridge, which is adorned with elements made out of cast iron, has been designed by William Tierney Clark.

The development of the bridge was possible due to Georgios Sinas, a merchant of Greek origin, who had financed the construction. His donation had transformed the project on paper into a reality and because of this his name has been inscribed at the base of the bridge.

The bridge was inaugurated in mid-19th century (1849) being the sole permanent bridge to stand erect in Budapest. The bridge, at its broadest point, measures 202 meters, an impressive width at that time thus making the Chain Bridge the largest in the world. The buttresses are each adorned by means of sculptures – depictions of lions. The artist who had taken upon himself the task of carving the stone statuettes had taken inspiration from the well-known sculpture which decorates the Trafalgar Square – in which bronze lions are illustrated.

The Chain Bridge was not constructed per se in Hungary. The structure consisted of segments which were designed in UK and shipped to Budapest where they were assembled. As time went by, the bridge became somewhat frailer so a project was initiated with the purpose of strengthening the structure of the construction. The second world conflagration left a deep mark on the bridge. More precisely, during the Siege of Budapest, massive damages were inflicted on the construction. But the years following WWII were dedicated to the refurbishing of the city and this meant rebuilding the Chain Bridge as well (which was resurrected in 1949).

Under the bridge, at the end of the bridge that leads into Pest, one can find a commemorative plaque on which the following words are inscribed: “To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by Willian Tierney Clarke: The Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow, England.”

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