Bridge at Kossuth Square
There was a time when Batthyány Square in Buda and Kossuth Square in Pest were connected by a bridge. The Kossuth Bridge was the bridge of life; in the winter of 1945, it substituted the bridges destroyed during the war; it was built in a mere eight months and served the traffic of the capital city until 1960. Its role was taken over in part by Metro 2 Line, crossing the river Danube along the same route.
There had always been plans to build a crossing on the site of Kossuth Bridge – which had been intended to be temporary – since the 1880s until as late as the 1930s. Its construction was urged in the early 20th century primarily by the artisans, manufacturers and traders of Buda.
The plans, however, came to nothing as a public bridge requires broad bridgeheads and collector avenues, therefore it is well-nigh impossible to integrate one into an established urban structure without major demolition works. Much of the old Downtown area of Pest and the Tabán district of Buda were sacrificed for the construction of Elisabeth Bridge around 1990; restructuring the neighbourhood of Kossuth Square, however, was not – and could not be reasonably – undertaken.
Demolitions could have been avoided if a pedestrian bridge were to be constructed; this idea arose in connection with the construction of both the downtown bridge (the future Elisabeth Bridge) and the one envisaged to be built next to the Parliament.
The idea of a pedestrian bridge cropped up again towards the end of the 20th century: a temporary bridge, complete with a moving walkway, was envisaged to be constructed south of Petőfi Bridge, in relation to the World Expo that was planned to be hosted by Budapest in 1996. At the time, pedestrian bridges – intended to be signature pieces of architecture – were constructed in many major cities.
Similar ideas have been put forth ever since then; some proposed long shopping streets, others conceived public parks, over the river.
“It is truly impossible to see what this bridge would be good for, particularly as it was intended to be a mere pedestrian bridge. There is no square, no traffic hub, or collector roads in the area and if the regulation plan is adhered to, there shall be none; accordingly no prerequisite for building a bridge here is met.”
Lajos Szilágyi F., engineer, on the proposed bridge to be constructed next to the Parliament building, 1891
(Above) The Kossuth Bridge in 1955. The bridge was built from materials taken from demolished structures, in horrible circumstances immediately after the siege of Budapest; the existing wood structures of the lateral openings were replaced with steel structures in 1953.
(1) The surroundings of the bridgehead planned to be constructed next to the Parliament building inspired some peculiar solutions, including a “Y” shaped bridge with a middle pillar in the river and a pedestrian bridge with escalators, etc. This is captured in Ágost Lipthay’s draft design which appeared in the Építő Ipar periodical in 1905.
(2) The bridges of Budapest (info-graphics)
(3) Szilárd Zielinsky’s plan for the pedestrian bridge to be constructed at the current day 15 March Square.
(4) In 2016, architect József Finta envisaged a multi-decker pedestrian bridge, functioning as a shopping street, on top of Rákóczi Bridge.
(5) A pontoon bridge was constructed on two separate occasions at Kossuth Square: For the first time, on 20 August 1973 to commemorate the unification of Buda and Pest and for the second time, in 2004 when Hungary joined the European Union.