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Removal of Chain Bridge's stone lions begins, Source: BKK

Budapest says ‘see you soon’ to lions of Chain Bridge

Budapest says ‘see you soon’ to lions of Chain Bridge

The iconic statues are being removed for renovation and will be reinstalled by December 2022

They weigh over 12 tons each and yet they find themselves up in the air, if for a little while. Last Thursday morning, the first of four roaring stone lions guarding the bridgeheads of Budapest’s Chain Bridge was removed from its pedestal and hoisted onto a trailer truck for rejuvenation.  

The procedure is part of the ongoing renovation of Chain Bridge carried out by contractor A-Híd Zrt. The project is overseen and funded by the Municipality of Budapest with limited additional support from the government.

Heavier than a solo bus

The limestone lion sculptures have been carved from several blocks of stone. A lion is made up of three parts, weighing 2.8, 5.5 and 4.3 tons, respectively. So, with a total weight of 12.6 tons, a stone lion is somewhat heavier than a low-floor, urban solo bus without passengers, according to the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK).

After specialists removed the cement joints connecting the sculpture elements, the stone pieces were lifted one by one with a tower crane from the three-metre granite foundation on the Pest side. The lions in Buda will undergo the same operation shortly.

Beautification procedure

All four lions will be transported to a studio in Újpest, where restorers will first assess the condition of the sculptures. Because limestone tends to accumulate dirt and its surface becomes discoloured due to environmental influences, sculptures need to be cleaned with special chemicals. Only then restorers can replace the missing pieces and make the necessary repairs on the statues.

The size and weight of the sculptures will pose additional challenges during the restoration, as their movement around the studio will require use of heavy-duty machinery. After the beautification procedure is complete, the lions will be brought back to their pedestals in December 2022, in time for the resumption of road traffic on the bridge.

Work moving ahead according to schedule

The renovation of the Chain Bridge is going ahead according to schedule, BKK assures. Following sonar surveys of the Danube river bed, clearance of the metal and ammunition debris around the bridge began in early May.

On May 25 A-Híd started the reconstruction of Clark Ádám Square including the roundabout on the Buda side that channels traffic to the bridge. Construction of the suspended scaffolding followed in early June.

On June 16, the bridge was completely shut down to traffic. The metal and ammunition clearance ended with an Ottoman-era cannonball fished out of the water, and by the beginning of July, the tower crane was assembled on the Buda side.

Demolition of the bridge’s track structure commenced in mid-July, while the first new steel track slabs arrived from Csepel at the end of July.

The renovation of Chain Bridge will be completed by 2023. You can keep abreast of all the news and announcements about the bridge’s reconstruction on the website lanchid.hu. Interesting facts about the history of the stone lions are available on this link.

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