Spanning the Danube between Clark Ádám tér and Széchenyi István tér, the Chain Bridge (Lánchid) was the first to permanently connect Buda and Pest. There has been a pontoon bridge on the river since the Middle Ages enabling passage from spring to autumn. During winter, the river froze making crossing possible; however, there were times when the weather changed abruptly and people got stuck on one side. In 1820, this happened to Count István Széchenyi, when he had to wait a week to get to his father’s funeral. This experience led him to decide that a permanent bridge had to be built. He became a major advocate of the project and founded a society to finance and build the bridge.
At the time of its construction, Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Chief engineer Adam Clark, a master builder from Scotland, completed the span in 1849. Legend has it that he was so proud of his masterpiece he would challenge anyone to find any fault with his work. When it was discovered that the lions at either ends of the bridge didn’t have tongues, he was so ashamed that he committed suicide. This of course is only an anecdote. The tunnel, which was built a few years later, is also the work of Adam Clark. By the way, the lions do have tongues; however, they are not visible from the street below. During World War II, the bridge was damaged and its rebuilding was completed in 1949.
It is an interesting detail that the bridge’s designer was an English engineer named William Clark, who had no relation to the Scottish engineer, Adam Clark, the builder of the bridge.