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Vintage photos capture some of Budapest’s coldest winters

Photo: Fortepan / UVATERV

Thursday, January 5, 2017 — We Love Budapest

Feeling frosty amid the winter climate? Just take a look back at Budapest’s biggest chills of recent history to put the current cold spell into perspective. Over the past century, there were several times when the temperature dropped so low that the Danube froze over, and sometimes the icy conditions caused major damage citywide. Here’s a compilation of vintage photographs bearing evidence of the coldest times Budapest experienced since 1900.

This is how the great ice drifts of 1914 looked like on the Danube from modern-day Belgrád Quay (then called Ferenc József Quay), captured by the photos of Albin Schmidt:

Photo: Fortepan / ALBIN SCHMIDT
Photo: Fortepan / ALBIN SCHMIDT
Photo: Fortepan / ALBIN SCHMIDT
Photo: Fortepan / ALBIN SCHMIDT

The river is nearly unrecognizable under the thick ice. The picture was taken in 1905 at Újlaki Quay from the direction of Margaret Island; on the right, we can see the Újlaki Church. Underneath is a photo of the Royal Palace (currently called Buda Castle), the Chain Bridge, and the Danube from Belgrád Quay, followed by a picture taken in 1907 of the original Elizabeth Bridge and Rudas Bath:

Photo: Fortepan / HUNGARIAN MUSEUM OF GEOGRAPHY - COMPANY OF MÓR ERDÉLYI
Photo: Fortepan / FRIGYES SCHOCH
Photo: Fortepan / FRIGYES SCHOCH

This is what the Danube looked like in the ’30s and the ’40s:

Photo: Fortepan / JUDIT NAGY
Photo: Fortepan / NOÉMI SALY
Photo: FORTEPAN
Photo: Fortepan / ARCHIV FÜR ZEITGESCHICHTE ETH / ZÜRICH AGNES HIRSCHI
Photo: Fortepan / TAMÁS KONOK ID

Here we see the frozen Danube from the Pest side of the remains of the original Elizabeth Bridge (after its destruction in World War II), looking towards Gellért Hill in 1959; then from the other side in 1963, we see the Belgrád Quay, looking towards the Buda side during the construction of Elizabeth Bridge:

Photo: Fortepan / GYULA NAGY
Photo: Fortepan / DR. KÁROLY TÓTH

Finally, here are three photos without the Danube, featuring the other icy scenes of wintertime in 1964, 1980, and 1981:

Photo: Fortepan / Budapest City Archives. Archival reference: HU.BFL.XV.19.c.10 2
Photo: Fortepan / Hungarian Police
Photo: Fortepan / Archives of Semmelweis University

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