Many are the cities of the world in which bridges cross rivers and bays, and there are those who have the longest ones. And yet Budapest and its residents very much deserve to be proud of their bridges.
Currently 8 bridges carrying cars and two railway bridges, join the two banks of the Danube. Each one more beautiful than the other but together they really show great charm.
BUDAPEST: CITY OF BRIDGES
The bridges not only join two river banks but three neighbourhoods. Prior to the technical revolution they were separated by the vast spread of the Danube. These bridges have brought three cities into one as we see in the Budapest of today.
Every bridge over the Danube is different: built in a different era during the past 150 years, each one responds to the same challenge according to a specific building technique: to “build a city”. Each one established a more modern work according to the times, each one is different, and yet they are one. And from this their true beauty comes out.
Here are some:
The first rises to the symbol of the metropolis and was built between 1838 and 1849. It is the Széchenyi Bridge, more commonly known as Lánchíd – “Chain Bridge”. Built on the initiative of Count István Széchenyi, the project was taken ahead by an English engineer, William Tierney Clark. The execution of the plan however, was entrusted to his namesake, the Scottish Adam Clark. It measures 380 metres in length, and the greatest distance between one pillar and the next is 203 metres.
The second is the Margaret Bridge (Margit híd): based on the project of the French architect Ernest Gouin, this project was taken ahead by an equally French company. It is 608 metres long, its two arms merge into a third that leads to the most beautiful island of the capital, Margaret Island (90 hectares of public parks, restaurants, swimming pools and playgrounds, thermal waters and open theatres).
The third to be constructed in 1877 is the railway bridge going south (477 metres of latticed metal). Also this time it is the project of the French engineer that wins the contract, with pillars made of granite coming in from Austria and the Czech Republic. The steel structures were made in French and Belgian factories.
The Bridge of Freedom (Szabadság híd), 334 metres long, is by this stage merit of a Hungarian engineer: it is projected by János Feketeházy and defined by the architectural solution of Virgil Nagy.
But one of the most impressive ones is the Elisabeth Bridge, Erzsébet híd, in which the pylons are planted into the two river banks (379 metres long – at this point of the Danube it is 290 metres wide, it was previously built in one arch only and today it is a suspended bridge); this project was designed by Aurél Czekelius and Antal Kherndl. Although it is named after Queen Elizabeth (Sissi), according to the history of the city it is our “most holy” bridge: in fact it is named after St Elizabeth (of the house of Árpád or of Turingia), reaching to the feet of the column of St Gerard and, they say – it is supported by the Holy Spirit (because the whole structure is made up of thin suspended cables!).
Seeing such a great variety all in harmony,
it really seemed the place in unison with the motto and the logo of the Genfest
a group of young people, who come from various parts of the world, have chosen: “Let’s bridge.”
Behind these few words are many, many things that head up a comparison – maybe the sign of the times: Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, had divided the world in 7 great zones and to Eastern Europe she gave this Word of Life: “That all may be one” (see Jn 17: 21-22).
„Let's bridge” – Let this be our answer now!