The Szabadság híd, or Liberty Bridge connects Buda and Pest across the River Danube. The 333-metre-long bridge was built between 1894 and 1896 for the Millenium World Exhibition and opened in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph, who himself inserted the last silver rivet on the Pest abutment.
Many trams used to cross the twin road bridge, which was also heavily burdened with car traffic. There is an initiative to convert it to a pedestrian-only crossing once the fourth underground metro line is completed in Budapest in the coming decade.
Although radically different in structure, the bridge imitates the general outline of a chain-type bridge, which was considered an aesthetically preferable form at the time of construction. The tops of the four masts are decorated with large bronze statues of the Turul, a falcon-like bird, prominent in ancient Hungarian mythology.
Liberty Bridge can be classified as a three-span girder bridge with a Gerber truss built in the Art Nouveau style. The bridge was designed by János Feketeházy, chief engineer of the Hungarian Railroads at that time.
Two years after its completion and official opening by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1896, tram traffic started on the bridge. During World War II, on 16 January 1945 the bridge was blown up by retreating German troops. After the end of the war, it was the first bridge to be reconstructed.
The bridge was reopened for traffic on 20 August 1946, its new name being Liberty Bridge (previously it was known as Franz Joseph Bridge). It also meant that for the first time after the liberation of Hungary there was a tram connecting Buda and Pest.