Symbolic buildings are defining elements of European cityscapes. Cities are often grasped and imagined through these buildings, and continue to be represented by them, even when their meanings are completely transformed. This transformation of meaning is obvious in the case of buildings with a strong political connotation. In the case of buildings that are not explicitly politically charged, it is, however, a more complex process, mobilised by different, though interwoven discourses of the city, opinions, wishes and representations, of which only a part can be explained in the strictly defined political dimension. In this article I will demonstrate how the meaning of such distinguished symbols of Budapest as the Chain Bridge and the Elisabeth Bridge have changed over the recent decades, and how the role of the ‘symbol of the city’ has drifted from one bridge to the other, according to the actual political and social context.