Hungary - Budapest
Buda Castle Funicular: the Shortest Railway
Buda Castle Funicular: the Shortest Railway
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Though Hungary’s shortest railway measures only 100 meters long, it was once one of the most important forms of transportation in Budapest. In 1868 the Funicular was built according to Henrik Wolfhart’s design. The builder was Ödön Széchenyi, the frivolous, extravagant son of István Széchenyi known for his standardizing and pioneering reforms.
In those days the structure was thought of as extremely modern and unique. It was a cheap and splendid form of transportation for clerks who worked in the Castle District, as horse carriages were both slow and expensive. The 48 meter vertical distance was traveled in less than a minute by the railway, which was the second Funicular in Europe after the rope-hauling railway in Lyon. Ironically, after the Funicular was opened in 1870, the area was pronounced to be a fortress zone for five years. and in times of war the builders would have to remove the Funicular from the wall immediately. Fortunately, this never happened, but in the Second World War the structure was badly damaged and the restored railway was only opened to the public again in 1986.
By that time, the Castle had no governmental function whatsoever, so the Buda Castle Funicular remained purely as a popular tourist attraction. During the short trip up in the two glass cabins (one called Gellért, the other Margaret) you can enjoy the extraordinary view of the Danube, the Chain Bridge and most of Pest. So for those for whom walking is not a priority and a simple bus ride is not enough excitement, traveling up to the Buda Castle Palace and the Alexander Palace on the funicular is recommended. If in doubt about the safety of the structure, you must know that there has only ever been one accident in its entire history. In June 1896, after a late night party at the Castle, many revelers wanted to return home at the same time. And with no mechanic on hand and the overcrowded carriages not lit up, they crashed straight into the barrier at the station, but fortunately only one person was seriously injured.
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