Mária Valéria Bridge

History of the bridge:
Before 1895
The history of today’s crossing between Esztergom and Párkány began in Roman times. During the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the conquering legions crossed the Danube here.
The two shores were connected by an ice bridge in the winter. The written records mention the first artificial crossing by certificate in 1215 was left by King Endre II. In this document, the King gave the church in Esztergom “… the royal customs that are used to be collected”.

During the Turkish subjugation, people used a ship bridge, which is also clearly visible on contemporary engravings. The bridge at that time was torn down by the fleeing Turks during the recapture of Esztergom in 1683. The next crossing was the Danube bridge originally at Nyergesújfalu, which was built in 1706 by Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II and brought it assembled for the siege of the Castle.

In 1762, Archbishop Ferenc Barkóczy built a more modern, so-called flying bridge. Párkány could be reached in 6 minutes, and the trip back to Esztergom took 8 minutes. The flying bridge operated for eighty years, it was disassembled for the winter and brought back into service only in the spring.

The new and permanent boat bridge was consecrated on March 19, 1842 by Archbishop József Kopácsy. Towards the end of the XIX century, however, the bridge no longer met the needs of the growing and accelerated ship traffic. In 1891, after modernizing the Bratislava and Komárom crossings, the government finally decided to build the iron bridge between Esztergom and Párkány.
In 1893, a state tender was issued for the construction of the bridge and its design plans. It was designed by János Feketeházy, and in February 1894 the bridge construction company of Cathry Szaléz work started.

The finished bridge was handed over on September 28, 1895, in the context of a huge ceremony, which was attended by several members of the government. The bridge was consecrated by Cardinal-Primate Kolos Vaszary. It was free to use until midnight of that day. Then, until 1918, it was necessary to pay customs at the crossing (bridge toll).
The use of the bridge has become part of everyday life on both sides, and for 24 years, there was a lot of traffic on it. However, according to the Trianon decision following the lost war, the Danube suddenly became a state border at Esztergom, and the bridge was closed.

The bridge was first blown up by accident. On July 22, 1919, after 8:30 in the evening, a huge explosion shook the area. The accident was caused by the Czechoslovak legionnaires, probably due to the careless handling of the charge by the soldiers assigned to the guard and as the result, the first hatch from the Párkány side fell into the water. The bridge structure was raised from the Danube only two years later, and the arch was replaced with a temporary footbridge.

Due to economic necessity and the encouragement of the International Danube Commission, Czechoslovakia began the restoration of the bridge structure in 1922. Traffic on the bridge started again on May 1, 1927, and car traffic was allowed on the new asphalted road from 1928.
As a result of the regular bridge inspection carried out in 1938-39, the Hungarian Wagon and Machine Factory replaced 38,000 rivets on the structure.
After the first decision in Vienna, the two bridgeheads were once again washed by the Hungarian Danube river. Thus, in relation to Párkány and Esztergom, almost everything came back to the “old times”.
The bridge was blown up for the second time on December 26, 1944 by the retreating German army, the three central arches were damaged and two pillars were significantly damaged. Then, the Danube flowed again by Esztergom as a border river in the direction of Budapest, but the destroyed bridge could no longer ensure the border crossing.

The role of the bridge was taken over by a small boat and then by a regular ferry service.
On the 100th anniversary of the bridge’s handover, the two ministers jointly applied for PHARE aid. On August 25, 1999, an agreement was reached on the reconstruction of the bridge, and on September 16, the Hungarian and Slovak prime ministers signed the agreement on the reconstruction of the Mária Valéria bridge.
Construction began in October 2000. The two shore hatches that remained intact were renovated, and the three pieces that were blown up were remanufactured. The curvature of the new bridge has changed, it has become more curved than the previous one. A new technique was used in the manufacturing, the bridge elements were assembled on the shore, then transported to the site on barges and lifted into place with hydraulics. The last 603-ton arch was placed on July 27, 2001.
The ceremonial dedication of the Mária Valéria bridge took place on October 11, 2001. The Prime Ministers of Hungary and Slovakia: Viktor Orbán and Mikuláš Dzurinda participated in the event. The guest of honor at the ceremony was Günter Verheugen from the Brussels representation.


On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the bridge’s reconstruction, a bridge history exhibition was shown on the ExKomárom dock next to the bridge in the fall of 2021.


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