The Chain bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, following an initiative by Count István Széchenyi, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark. It is a larger scale version of William Tierney Clark’s earlier Marlow Bridge, across the River Thames in Marlow, England.
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda, and only the second permanent crossing on the whole length of the river Danube. It is one of the symbolic buildings of Budapest, the most widely known bridge of the Hungarian capital.
It was funded to a considerable extent by the Greek merchant Georgios Sinas who had financial and land interests in the city and whose name is inscribed on the base of the south western foundation of the bridge on the Buda side.
The bridge was opened in 1849, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and thus became the first permanent bridge in the Hungarian capital. At the time, its centre span of 202 metres was one of the largest in the world. The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, János Marschalkó and installed in 1852. It was designed in sections and shipped from the United Kingdom to Hungary for final construction.
The chains have been led through the top part of the pillars where they rest on large iron saddles. Between the two pillars, the chains are hanging low, and outside the pillars, they lead to the riverbanks where they go underground with minor fractures. Here, deep underground you can find the so-called chain-chambers in which the descending chain-ends are being anchored by vast iron blocks leaning to the walls of the chambers.
The bridge’s cast iron structure was updated and strengthened in 1914. In World War II, the bridge was blown up on 18 January 1945 by the retreating Germans during the Siege of Budapest, with only the towers remaining. It was rebuilt, and it reopened in 1949.