This was the second permanent bridge over the Danube, built between 1872 and 1876, designed by the Frenchman Ernest Gouin and built by a Parisian building firm (of the famous French architect Eiffel). The bridge has a branch that leads to the Margaret Island starting out from the pier in the middle. On this bridge occurred the greatest disaster in the history of the city: in November 1944, in the broad daylight of the afternoon rush hour, when hundreds of people were crossing the bridge on foot and by tram, the charges placed by the Germans on the section of the bridge between the island and Pest went off, presumably by accident; the number of causalities will never be known, but it ran into hundreds.
The island, now one of Europe’s finest parks, was formed in the Danube over the last million years.
With a length of 2.5 kilometers and a width of 500 meters at the widest point, it can be strolled through in about 2 hours at a leisurely pace. A bridge connected the island with the Buda bank even in Roman times. The present name was given in honor of Princess Margit, daughter of King Béla IV; she lived in the nunnery on the island; she came here when she was 9, and died when she was 29. Even today you can visit the ruins of the convent where she lived. There are more than 10 thousand trees on the island, most of them plane-trees, carefully planted by various Hapsburg gardeners to counteract the ravage of floods.
You can walk on the grass everywhere, something still unusual for the citizens of Budapest. There are various amenities on the island: a swimming pool, a strand, a tennis stadium, an open air cinema and an open air theatre, a game reserve, a rose garden, a Japanese garden and a statue garden.
At the Margaret Bridge entrance to the island the visitor sees a fountain and the Centenary Monument erected on the hundredth anniversary of the union of Pest and Buda. On the Buda side of the island is the Alfréd Hajós Sports Swimming Pool, with an indoor pool and two open-air ones; further on, in the center of the island, are the Palatinus Outdoor Baths. In front of it we find the city’s most beautiful rose garden. Not far away, on the open-air stage next to the water tower, opera, operetta and ballet performances are held.