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Széchenyi lánchíd (Chain Bridge)

Széchenyi lánchíd (Chain Bridge)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 2, 2017

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Alagút út Over Danube River (Duna)
Budapest: Pest County, Central Hungary (Pest megye, Magyarország): Hungary (Magyarország)
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1849 By Builder/Contractor: Adam Clark and Engineer/Design: William Tierney Clark
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
663.0 Feet (202.1 Meters)
Structure Length
1,230.0 Feet (374.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

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Bridge Documentation

Above: Bridge in 1904. Taken prior to the 1914-1915 replacement of the iron, this shows the original stiffening trusses and eyebar chains.

The oldest and most famous of the bridges in Budapest, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd), often called simply the Chain Bridge, was built in 1849, and is an eyebar chain suspension bridge with stone towers and distinctive lion statues at the ends of the bridge. 

The bridge's original engineer was William Tierney Clark, who designed another suspension bridge, the Marlow Bridge in London, England. An unrelated Scottish engineer, Adam Clark, oversaw the on-site construction of the bridge. The large lion sculptures at the ends of the bridge are the work of János Marschalkó. The bridge features a sculpture of the Kossuth Coat of Arms at the crown of the tower arches, which is a variation of the Hungarian coat of arms that does not include the Holy Crown on top.

In 1914-1915 the iron elements of the bridge were replaced. The original 1849 trusses appear to have been cast iron, although the replacement trusses installed in 1914-1915 were riveted steel. The eyebars were replaced with larger steel eyebars at this time as well. The original sidewalk railings appear to have been retained in 1915. The railings, which originally appear to have had the same design as the 1849 stiffening trusses were replicated in-kind as cast iron/steel in 1949.

After suffering damage during the Siege of Budapest that had put holes in the deck, a final bombing tore the entire deck, stiffening trusses, and most of the suspenders from the main eyebar chains. Historical photos show even the lions were not spared destruction, however the towers remained largely intact. The bridge was rebuilt in 1949, reusing the towers, and replicating the original design to a surprising extent, including the eyebar chain design and use of pony stiffening trusses.

Above: Bridge in 1928. This photo shows the 1915 replacement stiffening trusses. Note the stone pillar and curved riveted steel cover in front of it which allow the eyebars to pass through as it reaches the deck. This detail was not replaced in 1949.

Above: Bridge after bombing, with the lion statue clearly visible.

Above: Bridge after bombing, with main eyebar chains still in place.

Above: Bridge after bombing, with main eyebar chains destroyed.

Above: Count István Széchenyi de Sárvár-Felsővidék, a supporter of the bridge's construction, the bridge is named after him.

Above: William Tierney Clark, designer of the bridge.

Above: Adam Clark, on-site engineer for the bridge.


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