Adam Clark Square, what on earth?
The Hungarian verison of Adam Clark Square is Clark Ádám tér, and yes it really is called that. So how did a Hungarian square, and a fairly important and central one at that, get such a name?
Actually two Brits both named Clark (though unrelated) were responsible for the construction of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. William Tierney Clark was the architect (who based this one on a smaller bridge of his over the River Thames at Marlow) and Adam Clark was the chief construction engineer, who later settled here. He did so much for the city and was such a character, that the square on the Western side of the bridge is named after him.
Adam Clark the saboteur?
He famously protected “his” bridge from destruction in 1849, when the retreating Habsburgs wanted to blow it up to slow the rebel forces. (He had been working on for 10 years, and it was only freshly completed, so he was understandably attached to it.) Apparently he flooded the chain chambers, where the ends of the great chains are secured into the rock of the hill, and also dismantled the pumps, so explosives couldn’t be laid there. Dynamite was tried on the main roadway, but this did not put the bridge out of action. Just a few weeks later, the Hungarian army announced that they would now have to blow the bridge for strategic reasons, and once again poor Clark went out on a limb. No action-hero stuff this time, but he did convince General Dembinszky to stand down.
Sights around the Square
The huge tunnel cutting right through to the other side of the Buda Castle Hill was also designed by Adam Clark. It opened for pedestrians in 1856, and for traffic in 1857. Interestingly, enough it contains several rooms and even flats at either end, one of which was planned for the home of the bridge-master. It was used as a Nazi headquarters during the war, and fitted with two floors. Being 350m long, approximately the same length as the Chain Bridge, the common joke goes that it was designed as somewhere to keep the expensive bridge when it rains. This square is also known for being the zero point from which all distances are measured in Hungary (there is even a big limestone “Zero monument” on one side). Facing the huge Crest of the country (note the pushed-over cross at the top) is the lower station of the funicular railway that goes up to the castle hill, for those who prefer queuing to walking uphill…
Adam Clark Square Info
Address: Clark Ádám tér, Budapest 1013. Map ref: 47.498373, 19.040513,
Opening hours: public square, open all the time
Cost: no charge
Find this on: Absolute Walking Tour, Evening stroll, (Segway tour, Bike tour and evening bike tour)