For months, the restorers have been working on the stone lions decorating the bridgeheads of the Lánchíd in a studio in Újpest. Experts assess the condition of the more than ten-ton sculptures, which are being cleaned first. Meanwhile, chemical wraps are made on the parts where environmental contaminants have made the surface of the lions even darker. This will be followed by another wash and disinfection, the Budapest Transport Center told MTI on Friday.
Experts will also explore where the sculptures contain foreign matter, stone inserts, or other previous replacements. A detailed fault map is created to indicate where there are cracks or parts in need of repair. The examination of the sculptures and the cleaning work involving heavy dust and spattering are still carried out outdoors. The sculptures are only then taken to the studio, where the missing pieces are replaced and the necessary repairs made.
Stone sculptor restorer Balázs Szemerey-Kiss is working on the restoration of the lions of the Lánchíd which is under renovation, the replacement of one of the broken stone tooth in the Budapest studio of AHíd Zrt. (Photo: MTI / Szilárd Koszticsák)
Minor flaws are repaired with a special mortar, and a stone complement that has matched the lions in color has already been selected. The broken elements are complemented by making carbon fiber joints as needed. Restorers only replace parts that have been proven to exist before. It is also part of the concept that not all traces of time are removed from the surface of the sculptures, for example, they retain the tiny pits that naturally formed on the surface of the limestone.
As it will be possible to continue the cleaning with water technology again in the spring, the lions in Buda will spend the winter outdoors. The limestone (coming from Sóskút) sculptures were carved from several blocks of stone, a lion is made up of three parts. The parts weigh 2.8 tonnes, 5.5 tonnes and 4.3 tonnes respectively. So a total of 12.6 tons of a stone lion, which is somewhat heavier than a low-floor city bus without passengers.
The Pest lions, broken into pieces, were transported from the site in early August, and the Buda ones in September. The statues will be returned in three parts by December 2022. The lions are assembled with the selected binder in their original location, on their pedestals, and are also provided with the final surface protection on site.
The Lánchíd and the Lion Statue (Photo: Both Balázs / pestbuda.hu)
As we wrote about it earlier, the lions made in 1849 were made of stone from Sóskút, 4.6 meters long and 2.2 meters wide. On 18 January, 1945, when the Lánchíd was blown up by the Germans, the lion statues were fortunate, and survived with only minor damage. We can practically say that during the century and a half, in addition to the figure of the Lánchíd, they also became one of the symbols of Budapest.
There are several legends about the lion statues, one of which was that the sculptor János Marschalkó, who made up the four lion statues of the Lánchíd, jumped into the Danube when it turned out that the lions had tongues. However, this is not true, as a close look shows that the lions have a tongue.
Source: MTI, pestbuda.hu
Cover photo: stone sculptor Balázs Szemerey-Kiss is working on the restoration of the Lions of the Lánchíd under renovation (Photo: MTI / Szilárd Koszticsák)