Kossuth Bridge

The Kossuth Bridge or Kossuth híd was a bridge that stood over the river Danube in Budapest from 1945 to 1960.

After the Soviet Red Army took Budapest in early 1945, they found all the city's seven bridges had been demolished by retreating Nazi troops. Soon, a pontoon bridge was created for military logistical purposes but its capacity proved insufficient and presence of winter icepacks on the Danube made it impossible to maintain a permanent link across the 290-metre-wide river with a floating bridge.

A decision was made to build a spar-type bridge in record time. The total destruction of industry and chronic lack of raw materials in Hungary required cannibalizing several dozen oil wells in the oil fields of Zala county for the construction project. Steel piping was pulled from the depths and used as the main spars for the bridge. It is said some gunbarrels from abandoned and destroyed WWII battle tanks were also incorporated in the structure. Because of the tight schedule and design restrictions dictated by available substandard materials, the bridge was built with numerous concrete pylons, with smallish, 30 and 40-metre-wide openings between them. The construction project was entirely carried out by Soviet military engineering troops, with some 15 fatalities due to hurry and harsh work conditions.

By the time the bridge was completed, army shipping requirements had decreased and a change in Soviet foreign policy allowed its control and use to fall into the hands of the Hungarian people. The permanent link, built right at the southern corner of Budapest's vast Parliament Building, was often referred to as the "Link of Life", especially in the leftist press. Indeed, for some time it was the only connection between the two halves of the city, Buda and Pest. Officially inaugurated as the "Lajos Kossuth Bridge", it was named after the patriotic leader of Hungary's 1848-49 revolution.

Due to its hasty construction, the Kossuth bridge had several restrictions on use. It was used mainly for pedestrian crossing. Heavier trucks could cross at 20 km/h and in only one direction at a time. During sessions of parliament, it was sometimes shut down for noise and security reasons.

In the years following WWII some of the demolished Danube bridges were rebuilt, easing the traffic situation. The Kossuth Bridge gradually became a maintenance problem and its low span more of an obstacle to shipping on the River Danube. It was finally shut down and dismantled in 1960, but not replaced. Nowadays only two plaques embedded in the riverbanks remind visitors of the bridge's former location. It is thought that a bridge will be erected in the same place around 2020 as part of the long-term Budapest infrastructure modernization programme.

A photo of the Kossuth bridge with Parliament in the background can be seen here.

  • DBridges - Kossuth híd

Coordinates: 47°30′23″N 19°02′42″E / 47.506388888889°N 19.045°E / 47.506388888889; 19.045