Almost as striking as the Danube, and certainly among Budapest’s greatest engineering exempla are its bridges. Although, along with many bridges in Hungary, they were destroyed by the retreating Nazis at the end of World War II, each and every one of them was rebuilt in the years that followed. Some were reconstructed from the shattered wreckage dragged from the Danube and all but one were restored exactly to their original appearance.
Arpad Hid, or the Arpad Bridge is Budapest’s northernmost public bridge. Spanning 2 kilometres, it is also Hungary’s longest. Beginning at Szentlelek Ter, near the main square of Obuda and ending in Pest on Robert Karoly Korut, it overlooks both Obuda Island and Margaret Island. It was designed by János Kossalka and construction began in 1939. However the project was suspended during World War II and the Arpad Bridge was not completed until 1950.
Margit híd or Margaret Bridge spans the Danube between Jászai Mar Ter at the Northern end of Pest’s Grand Boulevard and Germanus Gyula Park near the Király Baths on the Buda side, passing just in front of Margaret Island. It is Budapest’s second northernmost public bridge and the second oldest after the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Measuring 637.5 m in length and 25 m in width, it was designed by the French engineer Ernest Gouin in 1872 and completed by his construction company, Maison Èmile Gouin in 1876.
Soon after the bridge was opened, it became a popular spot for suicides. The wave deaths inspired renowned Hungarian poet, János Arany to compose a ballad. Illustrated with intricate and romantic pencil drawings by artist Mihaly Zichy and, printed in leaflet form, it became a best-seller in the city.
In 1944 a section of the Margaret Bridge collapsed killing 600 civilians and 40 German soldiers.
When I last crossed it, the Margaret Bridge seemed rather worn and somewhat shaky. Plans were in the air for repair or renewal