Budapest Bridge Becomes a Playground

Author’s note: This was written last summer and never published. Whoops! At least the dream still lives on…

party on the liberty bridge in budapest

Remember the power of your imagination when you were a little kid? My parents once bought a new refrigerator, and they completely overlooked the magic of that giant box it came in. They saw trash, but I saw an opportunity. A castle. A spaceship. A submarine. A ________.

Some brilliant minds in Budapest seem to still have that imagination. However, they don’t target a cardboard box. Their playhouse was a major bridge.

street performers in budapest

It all started last summer when I heard that the Szabadság híd (“Liberty Bridge”) in Budapest was closed to traffic for some kind of construction. Cars and trams had to keep off, but pedestrians were allowed. Obviously, it turned into a unique picnic and party spot with amazing views.

That green monster is my favorite bridge across the Danube, so I was pretty upset that wasn’t around Budapest at the time, and I never had the chance to join in. Fortunately, my future was full of good luck.

view of buda castle from the szabadsag hid liberty bridge

A group of people took it upon themselves to convince the local government that a few summer Saturdays should bring this pedestrian bridge back to life. Seeing as how certain bridges are often closed for marathons and other events, it seemed like a reasonable request. The government agreed, and a few weekends had an exciting event.

Finally, I got to walk in those oily tram tracks - without the fear of imminent death.

szabadsag bridge budapest closed

Some people were just sitting on the asphalt, others were leaning on the railings. Acrobatic enthusiasts were setting up swinging rings on the metal sides, and performers were dancing in the streets. Narcissists were taking selfies, and (foolish) daredevils were climbing up to the high parts of the bridge.

hanging out on szabadsag hid in budapest

A few members of our group were under 2 years old, so we left before the DJs set up their fancy speakers. But, the kids enjoyed coloring on the street with chalk, and they didn’t miss a chance to dance when a piano drove by (yeah, that one caused a double take for me, too).

I think the idea is really cool, and it makes you think about what’s happening around you. A big, boring piece of your city may same like a waste of space, but have you ever tried to turn it into more? If not, channel your inner child, and get to dreaming.


guitar player on a bridge in budapest

Hungarian Word of the Day:


Pronounced “heed” – this is the Hungarian word for bridge.