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Széchenyi Chain Bridge - night view - Budapest

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest

Accueil » Europe » Eastern Europe » Hungary » Budapest » The Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest

Spanning the River Danube between Pest and Buda, Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd in Hungarian) is the oldest and most iconic bridge in the city.

Follow Captain Ulysses on a tour of this symbol of the Hungarian capital!

💡 The Captain’s tip 💡

🧐 Want to know more about the history of Budapest? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!

💤 Are you looking for a hotel in Budapest? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Budapest? Advice & recommendations

🏛 Planning your trip to Budapest? Take a look the Captain’s detailed article on the best things to do: A Guide to Budapest

👶 Planning a family adventure to Budapest? Discover all of the Captain’s top tips in the article: Exploring Budapest with the Kids: Family-Friendly Activities.

Brief history of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Before the 18th century

Until the 18 th century, Buda and Pest, located on both sides of the Danube, were two distinct cities – they merged with Óbuda in 1873 and were given the name Budapest – and were not connected by any bridge.

A few options existed to travel between Pest and Buda, none of which were ideal:

  • the ferry, but the weather often made the crossing impossible (Danube floods, frost, etc.)
  • a removable bridge made of boats placed end to end, but the weather was often a problem as well
  • waiting until the Danube froze to cross on foot

So the situation was far from ideal!

The construction of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

At the beginning of the 18 th century, Count István Széchenyi (nicknamed “the greatest of Hungarians”) decided to build a permanent bridge to connect the neighboring cities of Pest and Buda. History has it that a family tragedy inspired the construction of the bridge: the unfortunate count was unable to cross the Danube to be with his father before he passed away …

Count Széchenyi spared no effort to bring his project to life. He traveled to England to meet famous civil engineers William Tierney Clark and Thomas Telford, to whom he submitted his project.

In the end, the construction of the bridge was entrusted to William Tierney Clark. Construction works began in 1839 under the supervision of Scottish engineer Adam Clark (who was not related to William Tierney Clark!)

Building the bridge took 10 years and fascinated the entire community of European civil engineers: the Széchenyi Chain Bridge was one of the most ambitious projects of its time.

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge was finally inaugurated in 1849.

🦁 The legend of the lions of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge 🦁

At the entrance to the bridge, on each side, two lion statues stand guard. According to legend, when the statues were revealed to the general public, sculptor János Marschalkó became the laughing stock of all Budapest… According to the inhabitants, he had forgotten to sculpt the lions’ tongues. Desperate, the artist is said to have thrown himself into the Danube from the bridge …

Where does the truth lie? No one knows. Let just say this: the statues do have a tongue (though, not very noticeable)!

Lion statue - Széchenyi Chain Bridge - Budapest

The Széchenyi Bridge in the 20th and 21st centuries

On January 18, 1945, German troops destroyed all of Budapest’s bridges, including the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The bridge was rebuilt as soon as the war ended and reopened on its hundredth anniversary: November 20, 1949.

Today, the Chain Bridge has become an emblem of Budapest. Since 2009, 200 Hungarian forints coins have an effigy of the bridge on the obverse.

Brief description of the Budapest Chain Bridge

Budapest’s Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a chain suspension bridge. The bridge is 375 metres (1,230 ft) and 14.8 metres (49 ft) wide, with a centre span of 202 metres. The centre span rests on two towers, connected to the banks of the river by enormous chains.

The bridge is made of iron and stone, and decorated with bas-reliefs representing the Hungarian and the Széchenyi coats of arms. The entrance to the bridge is watched over by gigantic statues of lions designed by sculptor János Marschalkó.

The view on the Chain Bridge from the banks of the river is particularly spectacular at night, when the bridge is illuminated.

🤩 The view on the Chain Bridge from the River Danube 🤩

As an accomplished sailor, Captain Ulysses can only encourage you to set sail whenever you have the chance! And the good news is: Budapest is perfect for cruises!

Captain recommends 2 cruises in particular:

– if your budget is tight: 1 hour cruise with cocktail;
– if you love music and gastronomy: dinner cruise on the Danube with concert;

Chain Bridge - Budapest


Getting to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is located in the heart of Budapest, a short walk from the city’s top tourist attractions ( St. Stephen’s Basilica , the Matthias Church …)

The closest subway station is Vörösmarty tér. All the trams running along the River Danube also stop at the bridge,as well as hop-on hop-off bus tours.
👉 Find out more here.

Budapest - Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night


In the 18 th century, people crossing the bridge had to pay toll, but it is now completely free 😊

👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!

👉 Find the perfect place to stay in Budapest!


👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!

🛏️ Accommodation:
Booking ($: Avenue Hostel | $$: Agape Apartments | $$$: Hotel Moments Budapest)

🎟️ Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets…:
GetYourGuide, Tiqets and Civitatis

🎫 Citypass:
The Budapest Card

🚐 Transfers:
Airport transfer

🚌Transport in Budapest:
Hop-on hop-off bus tour | a russian jeep | Trabant

✈️ Flights:

Pixabay | Unsplash

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