Liberty Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

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Liberty Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

Thick iron beams and sturdy iron bars may seem like an unusual site to behold in a city so well known for its elegance, old world charm, and beautiful architecture. In order to cross the famed Danube, you have a couple of options if you’re looking for famed landmarks: the magnificent Chain Bridge, or, as pictured here, the industrial-age Liberty Bridge. Connecting the beautiful Gellert Hill (location of Gellert Spa and Hotel), and the bustling Fővám Tér, or Great Market Hall, Liberty Bridge is as important as it is famous. As a cantilever truss bridge with a suspended middle span, it is quite different in structure than anything already spanning Budapest’s waters, but was constructed in a (successful) effort to augment the economy by better connecting Buda and Pest. And yes, Budapest is actually a combination of several communes, including Buda and Pest, whose names and boundaries were combined to create a compound city in 1873. We’ll wrap this up with a fun fact: the final piece of the puzzle (or in this case, the bridge) was symbolically added by Emperor Franz Joseph himself.

 

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Budapest, Hungary

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Budapest, Hungary

As is so often the case, the castle offers a fantastic vantage point of the city below. From the castle terrace, one can see all of Budapest: the famous Hungarian Parliament Building, the Chain Bridge, the tower of St. Stephen’s Basilica, and of course, the Blue Danube. And on this clear, sunny Easter day, the Danube is actually blue! Budapest is one of Europe’s best-kept gems. A city with so much to offer, it is often overlooked by mass tourism travellers, though those more adventurous who wander eastward into Budapest are greatly reward for their trouble! Not only is everything a bargain in Budapest, but the city is downright gorgeous and ripe with culture, spice and tradition – especially during spring festivities!

Chain Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

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Chain Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

A months ago, I read a book about Budapest in 1990 (ironically, the book is called Prague by Arthur Phillips, despite being set primarily in Budapest) and I decided that Budapest sounded like a pretty awesome place. So, upon visiting, I felt compelled to see and do all that the characters did. I drank a shot of unicum (a thick, highly alcoholic, bitter liquid), I visited the Gerbeaud (a fancy confectionary that the characters always met at–I bought macaroons as they were the cheapest thing on the menu), and I walked down the Chain Bridge as the sun was setting (though unlike John, I did not [try] to kiss anybody on the bridge!) And…it was worth it, as, back to the Gresham Palace, the bridge was dark, allowing the city to glow softly on both banks, but as I crossed it, the bridge was suddenly alit with light and the whole bridge glowed.  Following the Fall of Communism, the 173-year old bridge symbolizes enlightenment, nationality, and progress as it traditionally links  East and West. Everything about the experience was truly magical.