Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Budapest Chain Bridge

One of the iconic landmarks in Hungary is Széchenyi lánchíd (the Széchenyi Chain Bridge). It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Budapest. It opened in 1849 and is named after Count István Széchenyi.

The story goes that due to storms, the count was not able to cross the river to be with his dying father. He had to wait 8 days before he could cross and during this time, not only did his father die, but he also missed the funeral. He vowed to create a bridge linking Buda and Pest. It took almost 50 years, but when it was completed, the suspension bridge had the second-largest span in the world.

The pairs of lions at each end were added in 1852. It is an urban legend that the lions do not have tongues. They do, but they can only be seen from above and everyone looks at them from below.

At the end of World War II, the retreating German troops blew up all of the city's bridges, including the Chain Bridge on January 18, 1945, in order to slow down the Russian offensive. Only its pillars remained intact. In 1947 the decision was made to rebuild the bridge and it was completed on November 20, 1949 - exactly 100 years after its initial inauguration.

I saw a movie in 1989 that had featured the lánchíd and thought it would be so cool to see it one day. Well, it took me 21 years but I finally did it. The bridge seemed bigger in the movie but it was worth the wait.

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