Chain Bridge (Lánchíd)

Until the Chain Bridge was built there was no permanent bridge on the Danube between Regensburg (Stone Bridge from the 12th Century) and the Black See. A pontoon bridge was connecting Buda and Pest which was dismantled every winter (so it was out of service for several months) and hindered the increasing ship traffic along the Danube.

The official name of the bridge is Széchenyi Lánchíd (Széchenyi Chain Bridge), named after Count István Széchenyi, who initiated the building of a permanent bridge over the Danube and made the necessary campaigning for it. He also initiated the fundraising with no success, and soon asked Baron György Sina (a banker in Vienna) to make the financial management of the construction. For financing the design and construction works Sina established a joint-stock company and became the major financial contributor of the company owning more than 60% of the shares. The company was granted to toll the bridge for 87 years.

William Tierney Clark was invited to design the bridge, as he had the necessary experience and references (e.g. the similar Marlow Bridge over Thames). Construction of the Chain Bridge started in 1840 under the supervision of the Scottish engineer Adam Clark (who was not related to William Clark). The 380 m long, 14.5 m wide bridge was inaugurated on 20 November 1849.

The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, János Marschalkó and were installed three years later in 1852.The bridge was updated and strengthened in 1914-15 and was re-opened to traffic on 27 November 1915. During the siege of Budapest the German Army exploded the bridges of Budapest, last time the Elisabeth and Chain Bridge on 18 January 1945. After the war the bridge was re-built between 1947 and 1949 and was re-opened on the 100th anniversary of its inauguration.


Copyright ©: Text and photos by Károly Teleki Industrial Heritage Hungary

Source: 1) Budapest műszaki útmutatója 1896 (reprint). Edvi Illés Aladár (szerkesztő). TERC Kft., 2005. 2) Technikai fejlődésünk története 1867-1927. Magyar Mérnök- és Építész-Egylet, Stádium Rt., 1928. 3) A Visegrádi Négyek országainak technikai műemlékei IV. JAGA Group-SKSI, Bratislava, 2010 (ISBN 978-80-8076-087-8). 4) Duna-hídjaink., dr. Tóth Ernő (szerkesztő), Közlekedésfejlesztési Koordinációs Központ, 2009. 5) History, construction and refurbishment of Danube bridges in Budapest, Hungary. László Hegedűs, Miklós Iványi (authors), Technical University of Budapest, Department of Steel Structures,