Budapest is a city of grandiose bridges. Guidebook-star Chain Bridge connects downtown Pest with Castle Hill, curvaceous Liberty Bridge is the link between the Great Market Hall and the Art-Nouveau Gellért Baths, busy Margaret Bridge serves the island of the same name. As well as providing easy navigation between sights at either end, these sophisticated Danube spans are also landmarks in themselves. Here are five bridges worth crossing while you are in Budapest.
Built as the first permanent span between Buda and Pest, the Chain Bridge links the Art-Nouveau Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace with Clark Ádám tér, where the vintage funicular whisks you up to the historic sights of Buda Castle. Bookended by stone carved lions at each end, this iconic city landmark is a suspension bridge designed by Englishman William Tierney Clark, completed by Scot Adam Clark and first opened in 1849. Now, 170 years later, the bridge is due for an 18-month reconstruction – though the start date has yet to be announced, it may soon be your last chance to cross it in its current guise.
Named after Empress Elisabeth of Austria, this white cable bridge runs from Pest’s Inner City Parish Church to Gellért Hill, where you’re greeted by a statue of the unfortunate namesake bishop of the same name. Opened in 1903, the predecessor of this once-eclectic crossing was destroyed towards the end of World War II, as retreating Nazis blew up all the city’s river crossings. The new version was rebuilt in 1964 in a significantly simplified modernist style. After cracks began to show in 1973, the bridge has no longer been used by trams.
Emperor Franz Josef nailed in the last rivet for this green bridge, now connecting the iconic Great Market Hall of Pest with the century-old Gellért Baths across the Danube. It also carries main tram lines 47 and 49 from the centre of town to distant points in Buda. Criss-cross metalwork and symbolic Hungarian design make it a remarkably photogenic site and a popular place for summer picnic events, when the bridge is closed to motorised traffic. An identical version of Liberty Bridge has also been built for the recently opened Huawei campus in Dongguan, China.
Busy tram 4/6 carries passengers from Jászai Mari tér to Buda, stopping by Margaret Island, the city’s popular year-round recreation zone. Designed by Frenchman Ernest Goüin, Margaret Bridge was opened in 1876, with the branch off to the island added in 1900. In 1944, an accidental explosion here as a tram was passing over killed scores of citizens and no few German soldiers. Adorned by Greek mythological warriors, the crossing received a partial makeover in 2011, which also included the construction of a cycle path.
The city’s southernmost steel bridge features the contemporary Palace of Arts and boat-shaped National Theatre on one side, and the Kopaszi-gát riverside parkland in Buda on the other. First referred to as Lágymányosi híd, the bridge was built between 1992 and 1995, with rails to extend tram line 1 installed 20 years later. During summer, Valyo Beach near the Buda foot of this red-coloured crossing is a popular hangout for community events and outdoor recreation. In winter, this is the current site of the Valyo mobile sauna.