Why visit: walks, history, panorama, architecture
A Brief History of Chain Bridge
Spanning the Danube between Clark Ádám tér (Buda side) and Széchenyi István tér (Pest side), the Chain Bridge (Lánchid) was the first to permanently connect Buda and Pest. There has been a pontoon bridge on the river since the Middle Ages enabling passage from spring to autumn. During winter, the river froze making crossing possible; however, there were times when the weather changed abruptly and people got stuck on one side. In 1820, this happened to Count István Széchenyi, when he had to wait a week to get to his father's funeral. This experience led him to decide that a permanent bridge had to be built. He became a major advocate of the project and founded a society to finance and build the bridge.
At the time of its construction, Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Chief engineer Adam Clark, a master builder from Scotland, completed the span in 1849. Legend has it that he was so proud of his masterpiece he would challenge anyone to find any fault with his work. When it was discovered that the lions at either ends of the bridge didn't have tongues, he was so ashamed that he committed suicide. This of course is only an anecdote. The tunnel, which was built a few years later, is also the work of Adam Clark. By the way, the lions do have tongues; however, they are not visible from the street below. During World War II, the bridge was damaged and its rebuilding was completed in 1949.
It is an interesting detail that the bridge's designer was an English engineer named William Clark, who had no relation to the Scottish engineer, Adam Clark, the builder of the bridge. The Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge, and it's a large scale version of William Clark's earlier Marlow Bridge on the River Thames in Marlow, England.
Things to Do and See Around Chain Bridge
Crossing the bridge is just a short walk and no matter which direction you go, the view is beautiful. It's also well worth a visit in the evening, when the bridge is all lit up. In the summer, festivals are held on the bridge almost every weekend. The Buda-end of the bridge is at Clark Ádám Square, where the Funicular takes you up to Castle Hill, and the Pest-end of the bridge is at Széchenyi István Square, a busy square in the city center, named after the former U.S. president. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Gresham Palace are also located in the square. Zrinyi Street, a pedestrian precinct, leads from Széchenyi István Square to St. Stephen's Basilica.
Getting to Chain Bridge: Streetcar 19 stops at Clark Ádám tér (Buda side) and Streetcar 2 stops at Széchenyi István tér (Pest side)
Did you know? Steps from the bridge works a man who has devoted his life to it. He is the Bridge Master of Budapest.