Sights in Budapest
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The Széchenyi Chain Bridge
is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary, and was opened in 1849.
It is anchored on the Pest side of the river to Széchenyi Square, adjacent to the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and on the Buda side to Adam Clark Square, near the Zero Kilometre Stone and the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle.
The bridge has the name of István Széchenyi, a major supporter of its construction, attached to it, but is most commonly known as the Chain Bridge. Its decorations made of cast iron, and its construction, radiating calm dignity and balance, have elevated the Chain Bridge to a high stature in Europe. It became a symbol of advancement, national awakening, and the linkage between East and West.
The bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, following an initiative by the influential Count István Széchenyi, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark. It was funded to a considerable extent by the Vlach Greek merchant Georgios Sinas who had considerable financial and land interests in the city and whose name is inscribed on the base of the south western foundation of the bridge on the Buda side.
The bridge was opened in 1849, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and thus became the first permanent bridge in the Hungarian capital. At the time, its center span of 202 metres (663 ft) was one of the largest in the world. The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, János Marschalkó. The bridge was given its current name in 1898.
The bridge's cast iron structure was updated and strengthened in 1914. In World War II, the bridge was blown up on 18 January 1945 by the retreating Germans during the Siege of Budapest, with only the towers remaining. It was rebuilt, and it reopened in 1949.
In popular culture
In 2001, Hungarian stunt pilot Péter Besenyei flew upside down under the bridge, a maneuver that became a standard in Red Bull air races today.
The inscription on each side of the bridge is to "Clark Adam", the bridge builder's name in the local Eastern name order.
A plaque on the Pest side of the river reads "To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: The Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow, England."
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