Chain Bridge (Budapest)

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Chain Bridge
Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest at night.jpg
Coordinates 47°29′56″N 19°02′37″E / 47.49889°N 19.04361°E / 47.49889; 19.04361Coordinates: 47°29′56″N 19°02′37″E / 47.49889°N 19.04361°E / 47.49889; 19.04361
Carries 2 road lanes
Crosses Danube River
Locale Budapest
Official name Széchenyi Lánchíd
Other name(s) Lánchíd
Design chain suspension bridge
Material wrought iron and stone[1]
Total length 375 metres (1,230 ft)
Width 14.8 metres (49 ft)
Longest span 202 metres (663 ft)
Designer William Tierney Clark
Construction start 1840[1]
Construction end 1849[1]
Opened November 20, 1849 (1849-11-20)
Chain Bridge is located in Budapest
Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge
Location in Budapest
Aerial view of the Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Hungarian: Széchenyi lánchíd, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈseːt͡ʃeːɲi ˈlaːnt͡shiːd]) is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark and built by the Scottish engineer Adam Clark, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary. It was opened in 1849.

It is anchored on the Pest side of the river to Széchenyi (formerly Roosevelt) Square, adjacent to the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and on the Buda side to Adam Clark Square, near the Zero Kilometre Stone and the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle.

The bridge has the name of István Széchenyi, a major supporter of its construction, attached to it, but is most commonly known as the "Chain Bridge". At the time of its construction, it was regarded as one of the modern world's engineering wonders.[citation needed] It has asserted an enormous significance in the country's economic, social and cultural life, much as the Brooklyn Bridge has in New York and United States of America.[citation needed] Its decorations made of cast iron, and its construction, radiating calm dignity and balance, have elevated the Chain Bridge to a high stature in Europe.[citation needed] It became a symbol of advancement, national awakening, and the linkage between East and West.[citation needed]


Laying the foundation-stone for the bridge (painted by Miklós Barabás, 1864)
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Buda Castle in ruins after World War II (1946)

The bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, following an initiative by Count István Széchenyi, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark (no relation). It is a larger scale version of William Tierney Clark's earlier Marlow Bridge, across the River Thames in Marlow, England.

It was funded to a considerable extent by the Greek merchant Georgios Sinas[2][3][4] who had financial and land interests in the city and whose name is inscribed on the base of the south western foundation of the bridge on the Buda side.

The bridge was opened in 1849, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and thus became the first permanent bridge in the Hungarian capital. At the time, its centre span of 202 metres (663 ft) was one of the largest in the world. The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, János Marschalkó.[5] They are visibly similar in design to the famous bronze lions of Trafalgar Square by Edwin Henry Landseer with Marochetti (commissioned 1858, installed 1867), but they were earlier - installed 1852.[6] They are also smaller (and appear from below to lack tongues). The bridge was given its current name in 1898.

It was designed in sections and shipped from the United Kingdom to Hungary for final construction.

The bridge's cast iron structure was updated and strengthened in 1914. In World War II, the bridge was blown up on 18 January 1945 by the retreating Germans during the Siege of Budapest, with only the towers remaining. It was rebuilt, and it reopened in 1949.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2001 Hungarian stunt pilot Péter Besenyei flew upside down under the bridge, a manoeuvre that became a standard in Red Bull air races today. The bridge is featured in I Spy, Au Pair, Walking with the Enemy and Spy. Also, in Katy Perry's music video for "Firework", it is featured at the beginning. The climax scene in Bollywood blockbuster Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was also shot on this bridge.

The inscription on each side of the bridge is to "Clark Adam", the bridge builder's name in the local Eastern name order. A plaque on the Pest side of the river reads "To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: The Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow, England."

The bridge featured prominently in Matthew Barney's Cremaster 5, serving as a reference to Harry Houdini.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Széchenyi Chain Bridge at Structurae
  2. ^ Pfeiffer, Ida (2008). A Woman's Journey Round the World. BiblioBazaar. p. 514. ISBN 0-554-23516-1. The small observatory was built by Baron Sina, the well-known banker in Vienna, who is by birth a Greek. The royal palace, which is of modern date, is built of brilliant white marble, in the form of a large quadrangle. 
  3. ^ Kohl, Johann Georg (1844). Austria: Vienna, Prague, Hungary, Bohemia, and the Danube; Galicia, Styria, Moravia, Bukovina, and the Military Frontier. Chapman and Hall. p. 126. The principal banker, Sina, is a Greek. Since the late improvements in the navigation of the Danube, which have made it possible to travel from Vienna 
  4. ^ Gerő, András; Poór, János (1997). Budapest: a history from its beginnings to 1998. Social Science Monographs. p. 83. ISBN 0-88033-359-6. In George Sina, a Viennese banker of Greek extraction, he found his financier; in William Tierney Clark his designer and in Adam Clark his engineer 
  5. ^ "Budapest Tourist Guide - Chain bridge". 
  6. ^ a b "Bridges of Budapest - Chain bridge". 

External links[edit]