The Chain Bridge (Lánchíd in Hungarian) is a suspension bridge that spans the river Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest. The iconic bridge also bears the name of the “Greatest Hungarian”, its full name is Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The Széchényi family was a rich and important family in Hungary since the 16-1700s. One of the most outstanding people of the family was István (Stephen) Széchényi, a politician, political theorist, and writer. He is considered by many one of the greatest statesmen in our nation’s history, Hungarians often call him “the Greatest Hungarian”. Many streets, squares, institutions are named after the family (Széchenyi bathhouse, National Széchenyi Library in the Buda Castle).
István had many achievements: established the Óbuda Shipyard on the Hungarian Hajógyári Island in 1835, which was the first industrial scale steamship building company in the Habsburg Empire; established the National Casino, a forum for the patriotic Hungarian nobility, and horse racing in Hungary, too. István was the one who offered his one year’s income of his estate to establish the Academy of Hungarian Sciences, and his example was followed by other nobles as well. He also focused on the development of transportation infrastructure. Part of his program was the regulation of the lower Danube to improve navigation in order to open it to commercial shipping and trade from Buda to the Black Sea.
Széchenyi also initiated the construction of the first permanent bridge connecting the two sides of the Danube Buda and Pest. The Chain Bridge, besides its improving transportation connections, was a symbolic structure for, since it foreshadowed unification of the two cities, Buda and Pest as Budapest (which happened later, in 1873), connected across rather than divided by the river. The bridge was inaugurated in 1849 and was designed by the English engineer, William Tierney Clark and build by the Scottish engineer, Adam Clark. On the Buda side of the Chain bridge, the Adam Clark square can be found with the Zero-kilometre stone of Hungary (from where all the distances are measured in the country) and the Castle Hill funicular which takes visitors up to the top of the Castle hill with an elevation of 175 meters. The Chain Bridge, just like other bridges on the Danube in Budapest was blown up during World War 2 in January 1945. In 1949, for the 100th anniversary of the opening of the original bridge, they inaugurated the reconstructed Chain Bridge.