Budapest has long held a special place in my heart, more than just the home to my alma mater, Central European University. The city is incredibly beautiful and deeply creative when it comes to public space planning. It has an amazing bar scene that makes use of dilapidated buildings or unused lots, turning them into so-called ruin pubs, popular with locals and tourists. It hosts a plethora of fantastic festivals that take over streets, its Chain Bridge, the city castle and other public spaces. And Budapest has an inspirational ability to think creatively about the public realm, turning vehicular streets into pedestrian spaces, removing car traffic and parking (permanently…) to fill these spaces instead with bars, cafés, city benches and gardens. Lately though, Budapest’s mission to return public spaces to the people has moved from a focus on its city streets to its bridges.
Due to ongoing construction on at Szent Gellért Square, the nearby Liberty Bridge has been closed off to motorized traffic in recent months. But instead of just avoiding this space, locals have taken it over, turning this gorgeous bridge into a spontaneous spot for morning yoga, afternoon barbecues, bike breaks, salsa classes, or a warm summery spot to read a book, take a nap or gaze out over this fantastic city. Couples sip champagne on tram tracks, friends meet to listen to live music, families pack picnic dinners. Budapest has long been a dynamic and creative city, but this visibly demonstrates how keen residents are to take back their public spaces. After all, these bridges – namely serving a transport function for cars and trams to cross the river that splits the city – are also public spaces. And in the Summer of 2016: the Liberty Bridge is Budapest’s latest and coolest city park standing atop the mighty Danube.
I am eager to continue to follow this story from afar, if anyone is in Budapest, please let me know! In the meantime, if you want to check out more images of this great happening, see: We Love Budapest‘s Photo Essay: a spontaneous picnic on Budapest’s Liberty Bridge.
Feature photo (above) by @guczix featuring Liberty Bridge salsa evenings. Related images can be found on Instagram. Selected examples from Instagram are below, with author citations. See also Trending City.