Nowadays we tend to take the beautiful bridges connecting Buda and Pest for granted. Neither the citizens of the capital nor tourists stop to appreciate or wonder about the history of the Margaret Bridge for example, which also happens to provide access to the beloved Margaret Island. But this beautiful bridge has an eventful history – in less than 150 years, it was designed after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, built in 1872-76, then severely damaged during the Second World War, then rebuilt exactly 70 years ago, Hirado.hu reports.
The original plans
The Hungarian parliament decided to build a second bridge over the Danube in 1870. The first bridge, the Chain Bridge was overburdened, and, also, a private company owned it. Not only could they impose a toll on the bridge but, according to a statute accepted in 1840, they also enjoyed a 90-year-long monopoly: new bridges were to be built further than eight kilometres away from the Chain Bridge.
Therefore the Parliament had to buy off this bridge first, and only after that could they start building the new bridge. Their goal was to encourage the development of Northern Pest and to connect it with the main road of Buda. They announced an international contest and received 43 plans. The winning application belonged to the French engineer, Ernest Goüin.
Building and naming
The building of the Margaret Bridge lasted between 1872 and 1876 and Goüin’s French company, the Societé de Construction de Batignolles, carried out the construction. The bridge was 607.12 metres long, with seven piers and has cost about five million Forints.
The extension that connects the bridge and Margaret Island was only added later and inaugurated on the 19th of August in 1900. Before that, one could only visit the island with a boat. However, today it is an essential part of the capital, offering a little break from the buzzing of the city. Check out here our list of must-see sights on Margaret Island.
Like the island, the bridge was also named after Margaret, the daughter of Béla IV of Hungary, who had lived in the convent on the island.
The Margaret Bridge was officially opened to traffic on 30th April 1876.
From 1879 a horse tramway ran on it until it was replaced by the tram in 1894, joined by buses in 1929.
Damaged in war
During WWII Margaret Bridge suffered serious damages. Its end on the side of Pest was blown up on 4th of November 1944 by Germans. The explosion occurred in the busy afternoon, so the bridge was full, and an estimated number of 600 people lost their lives. The other side was blown up next January.
After the war, there were plans for rebuilding the bridge, and the one by the Ganz factory was accepted. The new structure was lighter than the first one but had the same appearance with a few changes: six top-beams instead of eight and no customs houses.
The rebuilt bridge was opened to the public on 1st of August 1948.
The latest, complete reconstruction of Margaret Bridge occurred between 2009 and 2011. The old, dragon ornaments were restored on the columns as well as the historical arms of Hungary on the middle pier and the crown resting on the stone pillow. The finishing touch of the reconstruction took place in 2014 when the four statues of both Nike and Hercules were restored.
If you would like to test your knowledge about the Margaret bridge and read other interesting facts about it, then click here to try our quiz.
Photo: MTI Szigetváry Zsolt
Source: szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu; hirado.hu