Széchenyi Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge spans the distance between Buda and Pest, connecting the two via the River Danube. Travelling back and forth between the eastern and western side of Budapest has been made easy thanks to the Chain Bridge, which is one of the most well-known landmarks in the city. When you visit the bridge for yourself, prepare to have your breath taken away at the stunning views across Budapest.

Overview of the bridge

As the first permanent crossing across the Danube in the country, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the most famous bridge in the city. It got its name after the iron chains that are anchored by huge iron blocks deep underground. As you approach the bridge, you’re welcomed by two giant stone lions at each side. They were sculpted by János Marschalkó and placed at their lookout points in 1852. The lion theme runs into the main structure of the bridge too. You’ll notice that the portals of the bridge have capstones in the shape of lion heads.

Walking along the bridge is a wonderful experience as it gives you remarkable views of Budapest. Spot the Parliament Building nestled on the river banks in Pest and snap a few photos as you go. If you’re lucky enough to visit the bridge at night, you’ll notice how the city lights dance along the water’s surface. If you’re looking for a romantic spot to share with someone, you’ll find it on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.

Where to find it

You’ll find the Széchenyi Chain Bridge straddling the Danube River. If you’re on the Buda side, make your way to Clark Adam Square and from there you’ll be able to walk across the bridge. The Clark Adam Square is actually named after the man who built the bridge. It’s known for its beautiful gardens and colourful flowers. From the opposite side of the bridge, on the Pest side of the city, make your way to Széchenyi Square to walk across the bridge from that entrance. If you’re too far to walk to the bridge, you can catch a streetcar at Clark Adam Ter, which will take you directly to the bridge on the Buda side. Over on the Pest side, streetcar 2 from Széchenyi Istvan ter is how you’ll catch a ride to the bridge.

History of Széchenyi Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge was built to resolve the issue of finding your way across the river. In winter, the water often froze solid, making the crossing by boat impossible. Unsurprisingly, people weren’t willing to attempt the ice in fear it would crack, and they’d perish in the chilly waters beneath. Count István Széchenyi decided a bridge was needed in 1820 following the death of his father. After growing impatient having to wait a full week before he could attend his father’s funeral, due to the lack of a suitable crossing between Buda and Pest, this was the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for Szécheny.

The bridge took 50 years to build and at the time of its construction, everyone was calling it a wonder of the world. Adam Clark, who was the chief engineer, completed the bridge in 1849 and was extremely proud of his handy work. He may have been a little obsessed with the perfection of the bridge though as he often challenged others to find even the slightest error with it. It was a sad day for him when he realised he had forgotten to give the lion statues on either side of the bridge any tongues. After the realisation, he committed suicide. In case you were wondering, both of the stone lions now have tongues so everyone can rest easy.

Exploring the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

There is a lot to see and do near the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. In the summer, the locals host festivals on the actual bridge at the weekends. You’ll hear lots of music and be able to shop for little gifts as you walk across the structure. One of the best attractions to see while you’re in Budapest is Castle Hill. When you reach Clark Adam Square, a funicular will take you to the top of Castle Hill, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the castle grounds and enjoy the romantic ambience of the Royal Palace.

On the other side of the bridge, you can wander around Széchenyi Istvan Square, a busy area where you can grab a bite to eat and do some shopping nearby. Just a short walk from there, you’ll reach St Stephen’s Basilica.