Bridges of Budapest

Since the first constant bridge came between Buda and Pest in 1849, several others have been added to the row of bridges. Before 1849 there were so called pontoon-bridges, and sometimes the people also crossed the river by boat or on the ice. But, during the winter this could be very risky, so when one of the leading Hungarians called István Széchenyi couldn’t cross the river to get to his sick father around Christmas time in the early 19th century, he decided that a bridge needed to be built. He donated lots of money for it himself.

The first bridge

Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge

The first bridge to be constructed was the Chain Bridge, designed by the Englishman William Tierney Clark. In the contract with the people building the bridge, a rule said that no new bridge could be built near to the chain bridge, but the popularity of the bridge and the need for more bridges was quickly discovered, and that is how they later started making the Margaret Bridge (construction started in 1872).

The Margaret Bridge was designed by people from the company of Mr. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in Paris. It had a special form, as it was built up as a prolonging of the Szent Istvan Boulevard and Margit Boulevard. The bridge does not turn before at the middle, but then it suddenly turns quite sharply, so be careful if you drive across the bridge with a car. From this bridge you can walk down to the Margaret Island, though this add-on to the bridge first arrived in the start of the 20th century.

The first “Hungarian” bridge

The first total Hungarian bridge and the third in the row of bridges over the Danube was the Liberty Bridge, in the start known as the Franc Joseph Bridge. It was completely Hungarian, as design and parts and everything that dealt with it was manufactured and made in Hungary and by Hungarians. This is the bridge that has a green color, and today we know it as the Liberty Bridge. On the Pest side you can find the end of Váci Utca and the Big Market Hall, and on the Buda side you can find the Gellert Hotel.

Though the Freedom Bridge was called up after Franz Joseph, historians claim that the favorite bridge of Franz Joseph was not the bridge bearing his name, but the Elisabeth Bridge. Finished in 1903 it was the biggest suspension bridge in the. It remained the biggest for several years, but now you can find several longer than this one.

Liberty Bridge
Liberty Bridge

After the construction of the Elisabeth Bridge they relaxed somehow, and the next bridge to be constructed was the Petöfi Bridge (then known as the Miklós Horthy Bridge) connecting the grand boulevard on the Pest side with the Buda side, where among others the technical university can be found, and also several outdoor discos, clubs etc (A38, Rio and Zöld Pardon). The bridge has received its name from the famous Hungarian poet Sándor Petöfi.

As they built the Petöfi Bridge, they also planned to construct the Arpad Bridge. Due to the war they were not able to finish it, they suspended the construction in 1943, and they only resumed it in 1948. It was finished in 1950, and first enjoyed the name “Stalin Bridge”, but in 1958 it was given the name they originally wanted it to have, the Arpad Bridge. The latest and most southern bridge across the Danube was built in 1995. The Lagymanyosi Bridge is known for its special light system and with the Hungarian National Theater and the Palace of Art as its closest neighbors, which also has special lights in the evening time, it is quite a beauty after sunset.

Bridge problems in Budapest

It is said that the car bridges now found between Buda and Pest is built for around 16.000 cars pr. hour, but 20.000 cross over them. This is creating problems, which result in a constant need for repairing the bridges. Currently traffic is running as it should on all bridges, but who knows when they will start renovating one of the bridges again?