Budapest’s transportation system has constantly evolved since its very beginnings in the 19th century. Besides horse-drawn carts, the first form of transportation in Budapest was a floating horse railway built in 1827, PestBuda writes. Let’s see how the capital’s transportation evolved from the prototype of a horse railway in 1827 to 1874 when good quality pavement started to cover the streets of Budapest.

In the 19th century, there were no roads within Pest and Buda, only dirt roads. There were railways which lied way outside of Pest’s borders. People who owned traditional horse-drawn carriages used those, the others had to walk. People were eager to reform transportation somehow, so the following ideas came to life.

How people crossed the Danube before the Chain Bridge

Floating horse-drawn railway

190 years ago, the first prototype of a floating horse railway was constructed in Pest. Originally, its aim would have been to reform the capital’s transportation. However, the vehicle did not live up to the expectations. The railway connected Baross square and Kőbánya, it was 7.5 km-long. Unfortunately, the railway had many technical issues. First, let’s see how the railway looked like.


A wooden railway was constructed on top of wooden poles, so the rails were several meters above ground. The whole railway was covered with steel sheets. Carriages were hanging from both sides, most often carrying cargo and not people. It was horse-drawn.

This particular railway had many flaws both in terms of design and execution. Neither the wood nor the steel could handle the heavy cargo. If there was a strong wind, carriages were weaving too much and the whole railway was shut down. This horse-drawn floating railway was running only for eight months between August 1827 and March 1828.

More successful projects

There were significant developments from the 1840’s. The forefather of today’s buses and trolleys started to operate: the horse-drawn omnibus. The omnibus was the most popular form of transport in the 19th century besides the horse-drawn railway. It was basically an open carriage drawn by a horse. It could transport 8-14 people at once.

Photo: By Uploader: Ballstefl

A complete horse railway was built by 1866. Carriages were usually drawn by two horses. Basically Pest and Buda’s transportation heavily relied on horses (similarly to any other major European cities at that time). An extra third horse had to be fetched if the carriage went uphill on Margaret Bridge.

Horse Railway Stop at Margaret Island

In 1870, the city of Pest purchased its very first road roller and started to lay the first pavements which were terrible quality that decayed within two years. It was only from 1874 that good quality pavement was laid on the streets of Pest.

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