50 years of János Hill Chairlift “Libegő”

For 50 years, since 1970, the Zugliget Chairlift, Hungary"s first passenger cableway, has been carrying passengers. István Hantos Jr. made the plans for the first cableway in 1933, for János Hill - the highest spot of Budapest - thanks to Erzsébet Lookout Tower is a particularly popular outleap among hikers and skiers. The idea was welcomed, but the realisation took decades, partly because of the war.
In 1967, the District XII. re-opened the issue of constructing the cableway.  Based on the previous ideas, plans were made and the site was selected. Construction began in March 1969, and a year and a half later, it was already possible to travel on the new vehicle. The domestic industry supplied the construction materials for the works, but the hanging chairs and the special wire rope were purchased in Austria.

Seventeen steel pillars were set up to hold and carry the single-rope cableway. The electric engine for operation was located at the upper station. In the event of a malfunction, a gasoline engine (Trabant 601 and later a Lada 1300) was applied to supply the energy. Passengers could board the 101 open, double-seated hanging chairs (no. 102 served as the service chair), which allowed them to travel between the two stations within 12 minutes.


On 19th of August 1970, the guests of the opening ceremony, on 20th the traveling public could use the cableway that bridged 1040-meter distance and 262 meter height. Initially it was referred to as the Zugliget or Janos Hill cableway, but later its naming was put out to tender. The result of the tender was about ten thousand proposals (e.g. Hilly-copter, Johnny-copter, Push-Pull, Duo János, János Hill Murr, Hilly Humblebee, Heavenly Cart, Armchair lift, Devil’s Chariot, Fly-seat, Bumpy hump, Mountain run, Zuglibus) and the name “Libegő” (Flickerer) is still used today. Alongside the new activity, “chairlifting" with its stunning panorama quickly became popular.


Since the beginning, the safety of passengers has been a major concern: the stretching rope is shortened regularly and minor parts are often changed; a new cableway rope is required every ten years, and a complete reconstruction is required every twenty years. Modernization of the propulsion system made it possible to extend the travel time to 15 minutes. The design also slightly was adjusted to its environment; its red pillars got a green colour. 


During the first seven years, the main constructor District XII ran this means of transport. BKV acquired it in 1977 and after a few short and long detours, it is back to the same company since 2010.  The Chairlift is still very popular among tourists; it can carry passengers throughout the year depending on the weather conditions.