BUDA CASTLE FUNICULAR IS 150 YEARS IN 2020
The Buda Castle Funicular, previously called Buda Hill Railway, was inaugurated 150 years ago, in 1870 as the second such means of transport in the world. The construction was initiated by Count Ödön Széchenyi, son of Count István Széchenyi. The fusion of Buda and Pest, the Compromise and the subsequent urban development plans helped the realization of the initiation, which aimed a simpler approach to the ministries, offices and the Castle Theatre in the Castle.
For the location of the Hill Railway, a site at the Buda side abutment of the Chain Bridge was selected. The plans were made by Ödön Jaruszek and then modified by Henrik Wolfahrt. It was also Henrik Wolfart, who later took over the construction management, which started in the summer of 1868. At the lower end of the tracks, a large, impressive hall was built and a simpler reception building at the upper end. The length of the normal-gauge, 30-degree slope, with a 50-meter elevation, was 95 meters in the end. The steam-powered vehicles were manufactured in Vienna. The carriages consisted of three tiered cabins with the capacity of eight passengers each and they were joined together with two wire ropes and running like a pendulum, one upward, the other downward. A device called „emergency brake” ensured their safety.
Traffic started on the Buda Hill Railway on 2nd March 1870. The novelty, which at that time really served as a means of public transport, gained popularity very soon, with many well-known passengers on board. In addition to Franz Joseph and his family, the Brazilian emperor also used it, but there were many Hungarian politicians, prime ministers and ministers such as Gyula Andrássy, Kálmán Tisza, István Tisza, Kálmán Széll, Sándor Wekerle or Gyula Károlyi, who used it for going to work. Although there were many plans for its conversion and electrification, it remained essentially unchanged until 1944. During the siege of Budapest in World War II, it was badly damaged by a bomb, and after this, finally, a decision was made on its demolition.
Nevertheless, restoration of the hill tracks was never finally off the agenda, but it had to wait until 1986, when it was reconstructed on its original location, adapted to the historic environment keeping its old appearance, but according to the technical requirements of the time. The renewed, now electric-powered funicular carriages, named after Margit and Gellért, still have the three-step cabin design and pendulum-like operation. After more than forty years of hiatus, on June 4, 1986, passenger traffic restarted on the restored new means of transport, now called Buda Castle Funicular. Today BKV Zrt. operates this special means of transport. The Buda Castle Funicular, with its unique Danube panorama and being part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is of the most popular tourist attractions of Budapest today.