Monday, June 23, 2014

Budapest - Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Date of visit: 10th April 2014

The blue sky replacing the grey clouds when we were about to finish our sightseeing in Buda Castle. Anne managed to capture the beautiful sight of Szechenyi Chain Bridge from the terrace of the Hungarian National Gallery that look so stunning with a blue sky as a backdrop in below photo. Thereafter, we went back to the place where the bus dropped us earlier. Assuming that any buses from the point we stopped shall take us back to the Pest, we simply took the next bus that was available there. The bus took us to a different stop but we were lucky as a lovely young Hungarian lady was kind enough to show us the metro line which will take us to directly to the Chain Bridge. 

Szechenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest. It was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark as the first permanent bridge across the Danube river in Hungary, and was opened in 1849. The bridge is anchored on the Pest side of the river to Szechenyi Square, adjacent to the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and on to the Buda side to Adam Clark Square, near the Zero Kilometer Stone and the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle.

The bridge has the name of Istvan Szechenyi, being 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. It has asserted an enormous significance of the Hungary's economic, social and cultural life. 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 beside the Tower Bridge in London. It became a symbol of advancement, national awakening, and the linkage between East and West.

The English bridge engineer William Tierney Clark designed it in 1839, after Count Istvan Szechenyi's initiative the bridge conception idea in the same year, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark. 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 who had considerable 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, and thus became the first permanent bridge in the Hungarian capital, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. At that time, its center span of 202 metres was one of the largest in the world. The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, Janos Marschalko. They are visibly similar in design to the famous bronze lions of Trafalgar Square by Edwin Henry Landseer with Marochetti, but they were earlier as it was installed in 1852. Beside, they are also in a smaller size. The bridge was given its current name in 1898.

William Tierney Clark designed them 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 severely damaged during Siege of Budapest, and was rebuilt and reopened 1949.

A plaque on the Pest side of the river reads "To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: The Szechenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow, England". Most importantly for us, being able to walk from Buda to Pest using the Chain Bridge was indeed an amazing experience after admiring the bridge photos shared by others in the internet. It makes our journey worth even more.

Source: Wikipedia
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