The man who came up with the idea of the bridge, commonly referred to as the Chain Bridge, was István Széchenyi, who is also referred to as “the greatest Hungarian” due to his key political, cultural and economic roles. Although it is clear that connecting Buda and Pest became increasingly urgent in the 19th century for numerous reasons, the construction of the bridge also owes much to Széchenyi’s personal experience: on hearing news of his father’s death in December 1820, the Count rushed from Debrecen to Vienna, but had to delay his crossing over the Danube by several days on account of the horrible weather. That was probably when the idea of building a permanent bridge – “mending the homeland divided by the Danube, along with its heart” – came to Széchenyi, with the bridge also meant to serve uninterrupted traffic between the eastern and northern parts of the country.
The man behind the Chain Bridge
For a long time, the Chain Bridge – an outstanding creation of the 19th century – was the only permanent bridge over the Danube in Budapest. The originator of the idea was István Széchenyi, while the bridge itself was designed by William Tierney Clark and constructed by Adam Clark, with much of the financing undertaken by banker György Sina. The bridge was built between 1839 and 1849, with the four iconic stone lions at the two abutments carved by sculptor János Marschalkó.