[Today there are 15 bridges span over the river Danube at Budapest, but only four of them are worldfamous, the historical bridges, which existed already before the World War II. Every tourist visiting Budapest would like to cross the first stone bridge of the town, the Chainbridge at least once, and most of them stand amazed in front of the Elizabeth bridge or the mythical falcon-like birds of the Hungarians on the top of the Liberty bridge. The favorite weekend picnic area of Budapest, the Margaret Island can be reached through the second permanent bridge, the Margaret bridge.
The Chainbridge – an iconic sight of Budapest – was the first permanent stone-bridge between Buda and Pest, and the second one one crossing the river Danube on its whole length. Its construction was proposed by Count István Szécheny, the ‘greatest Hungarian’, leading figure of the ‘reform-age’ at the first half of the 19th century. Actually Chainmbridge’s official name is Széchenyi Chainbridge. Works were strated to the plans of an English engineer, William Tierny Clark in 1939, while the construction was supervised a Scottish man, Adam Clark. Opening of the Chainbridge took place 20th November 1849. At that time Chainbridge was the suspension bridge with the second largest span in the world. The 48 m tall portals are decorated with lionhead-shaped capstones and the coat of arms of Hungary. The chain-links have been made of iron plates with a lenght of several meters, connected by large rivets allowing for the chain to be a real chain wich makes small movements. The whole lenght of the bridge is 380 m, and its width is 14,8 m. Four years after the Chainbridge’s completion, on 10th February 1853 a tunnel through the Castle Hill was started to the plans of Adam Clark. The entry of the Castle Hill Tunnel – similarly to the Chainbridge – was fittingly designed in classicist style.
Margareth bridge – a fine example of French neo-baroque style – was the second perment bridge of Budapest. The design competition of the bridge was launched in May 1871. There were 43 applicants altogether, the most noted English, French, German and Austrian engineers of the epoch among them. In the end, the plans of French architect Ernest Gouin won. Thanks to its elegant, unobtrusive appearance, the Parisienne-stlye arch bridge designed by Gouin forms an integral part of the surrounding landscape of Budapest. The construction of the bridge was started in August 1872 with the building of pillar foundations. The iron elements forming the bridge structure had been manufactured in France by the Eiffel company. Their ornated statues were carved by French sculptor Thabard in 1874. The bridge was opened for traffic at 12 o’clock on 30th April 1876.
Liberty bridge – originally named as Franz Joseph bridge – is the shortest bridge of Budapest. The bridge was designed by János Feketeházy, chief engineer of the Hungarian Railroads at that time. Construction was started in June 1894. It was inaugurated by Francis Joseph I, who hammered in the last silver rivet on the Pest side on 4th October 1896, as part of the Millenium Celebrations. Two years later, in 1898 tramway traffic was started on the bridge. Liberty Bridge can be classified as a three-span girder bridge with a Gerber truss built in Art Nouveau style. It is 333.6 meters in length, 20.1 meters in width. Both portals are decorated with the coat of arms of Hungary designed by Virgil Nagy and two Turul statues each. Liberty ridge was the first bridge in Budapest illminated by eletric light during nights.
The construction of the Elizabeth bridge – named after Queen Sissi, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I -was started in 1897 to the plans of Aurél Czekelius and Antal Kherndl. At that time, it was considered a most up-to-date solution to place the pillars supporting the portal of the bridge onto the river bank instead of the river bed. Thus the middle span of the bridge amounted to 290 meters, making the old Elizabeth Bridge the public bridge with the largest span in the world for 23 years. The first Elizabeth bridge bridge was inaugurated on 10th October 1903. The suspension bridge was ornamented with Art Nouveau elements. At the beginning, a wood brick road connected the rapidly developing Pest to the romantic Buda. Four lanes were available for public traffic, so that two rows of cars were able to proceed in each direction. Unfortunately, the Elizabeth Bridge, along with many other bridges, was blown up by German troops at the end of World War II. The Elizabeth Bridge is the only Danube bridge in Budapest that would not be rebuilt after the devastations of the war, instead, a completely new bridge was built between 1960 and 1964. The length of its span – 290 meters – is identical to that of the old Elizabeth Bridge, though the new bridge got a modern style. Due to its charming shape and snow-white color till this day, the Elizabeth Bridge is the most elegant bridge of Budapest, attracting the well-deserved attention of tourists.