Monday, December 31, 2012

Crossing the Chain Bridge

If two out of three years makes a tradition, it is tradition on this blog to mark the passage from one year to the next with images of gates. Passage from 12 to 13, however, calls for something a little more massive, hence I bring today a landmark of my birthplace, Budapest, known as the Chain Bridge or, formally, Széchenyí Lánchíd. The bridge spans the Danube and connects high-lying Buda with low-lying Pest. The daylight view is from Buda. Parliament is on the Pest side to the north (left). The spires visible are those of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. I was born just up-river of here, on Margaret Island, between the two parts of the city (also to the left but invisible).

The perspective here is distorted by the current viewpoint (often is, come to think of it). The bridge is much wider than it looks, and the cathedral lies beyond a river-side park and then four long city-blocks inland. Another view, by night, corrects for that. Here is the same bridge ceremonially lit:

This image is taken from the Pest side, and the domed structure across the river is part of the Buda Castle.

For eastern parts of Europe, the technology always came from the West. The leadership that caused the building of this bridge came from a very famous politician and nobleman, István Széchenyí—who also founded the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The bridge was built by a Scot, Adam Clark, after a design by the Englishman William Tierney Clark (no relation). The first square the Chain Bridge touches on the Buda side is called Adam Clark Square.

So let us cross the bridge tonight and enter a new time. Will it be from the flat, industrialized Pest to the medieval  sharply rising, old-fashioned Buda—or the other way around? Time will tell. Time sometimes reverses its course.
Picture credit: Hungarian Wikipedia (link).

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