Chain Bridge First Suspension Bridge Over Danube River
Chain Bridge is the prime landmark, widely popular site in Budapest. The bridge built on river Danube, which joins Pest with Buda. Chain Bridge is a magnificent suspension bridge built in the nineteenth century.
Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge in Budapest, before this, there was a temporary bridge for use in summer. This bridge had to be disassembled in winter every year due to weather so as to protect it from drift ice. There used to be a ferry service across the river Danube in those days. Chain Bridge was known as Szechenyi Ianchid named after the prominent statesman count Szechenyi who was mainly active and was instrumental in the construction of the bridge. It is said that Count missed his father’s funeral due to the stoppage of the ferry service due to bad weather.
In 1836 the bridge was designed by the English civil engineer, Willam Tierney Clark. William Clark was having the right experience as he had already designed suspension bridges quite efficiently on the river Thames. The Marlow Bridge on the river Thames is somewhat similar to Chain Bridge. The construction of this bridge began in 1842 and was completed and opened on 20th November 1849.
The Chain Bridge is 375 meters long and 16 meters wide. This bridge was a marvel as this was the longest suspension bridge in Europe at that time. The bridge has only two towers supporting the spans with giant iron chains. The chains give the name to the bridge, and as Count Szechenyi was instrumental the bridge is officially known as Szechenyi Ianchid. The bridge towers are decorated with the Hungarian coat of arms, there are stone lions guarding the bridge on both sides.
As per the legend the sculptor of these lions threw himself into river when, during the opening ceremony of the bridge, he heard some spectator proclaiming that the lions had no tongues. Though the lions have tongue, they are not easily visible. The sculptor was saved who lived for many more decades.
This bridge sparked off the economic revival of Hungary, which led to the golden period for Budapest. Due to this bridge Buda and Pest which were two provincial towns emerged to evolve strong metropolis Budapest.
During the Second World War the bridge was blown up by the Germans in 1945, almost at the end of the war, in an attempt to halt the advance of the Red Army. The bridge was the one of the first structures rebuilt post war, the bridge was repaired and reopened in 1949, and rebuilt bridge is a perfect replica of the original bridge.
Feature Image Credit: Nico Trinkhaus – Széchenyi Chain Bridge | Budapest, Hungary